I was visiting a friend last week after she had received her last treatment of chemotherapy. When I stopped in to see her, she looked so gloomy in comparison to the previous times she had received the treatment.
I asked her why she looked so downtrodden. Her answer was one I didn’t expect. She said that she feels like the more she gets her hopes up in healing, the more that she is disappointed.
I have never been in that physical position before and cannot relate to the feeling as she felt it.
This experience led me to contemplate on my drive home the disappointment that she must have felt.
When I started to think about the spiritual aspect of healing and the pains that we experience, the waters began to part.
My friend was indeed experiencing the pains of the treatment. The disease has returned to her body three times over many years.
Each time that her disease returned she has said, “I trust the Lord; it’s not going get me.” What hope she possessed. With determination she fueled her body and mind to fight off the disease and to stay focused on her life and remain pleasant.
How many times has this same thing happened to us? I am not going to drink again. I am not going to do drugs anymore. I will stop smoking or chewing. No more porn for me. I am going to study more. I am going to stop swearing.
Many times we find ourselves doing the same thing we resolved not to do. It doesn’t mean that we were not sincere. It means that we were distracted and lost focus.
After we beat ourselves up and reaffirm how unworthy we are and assure ourselves we can never accomplish what we want, we find a way to try again, only to fail again.
After that happens a few times we don’t see much use in trying and lose hope. That is exactly what we should not do.
Part of maturing is to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. When we become aware that we are part of a community we can then see that our lives have meaning to each others’.
The hope is that all of the suffering we go through can be used to better someone else and ourselves. Suffering can be an example of a hope to come.
The healing of the body in death and the healing of the soul in the resurrection are precisely what we mean when we pray for healing; that through the passion, death and resurrection of Christ we have the promise and the hope for eternal life in the joy of his presence.
The ideas that my parents are not there for me, my professor is insensitive, my friend doesn’t understand, becomes trumped by the message of God. “I will never leave you orphan.”
The real life issues that are troublesome to us can be overcome. It may not be less painful, and there may be moments when the end is not in sight, but it comes.
The illness that my friend has is one that we all have. We all have our “cancers” to fight. The battles may not make us lose our hair or make us ill physically, but they do spiritually.
The restarting of therapy after the illness that was supposed to be gone can be gut-wrenching for the sick person and the family members who watch them suffer.
The treatment is a firm commitment to be the best person we can be. We have a future that promises hope. The many hardships that we endure now will be nothing more than a memory in the near future.
The night Jesus prayed in the garden must have seemed like it would never end, and then the beating and torture was not the end, either. We hung him on a cross nailed hand and foot with a crown of thorns on his head.
The good news is that after we did all that to him, he said, “I offer you life, I forgive you and you are mine.”
If you find yourself doubting and losing hope, step inside any of our classrooms and look on the wall. The crucifix will be a reminder of the hope that is to come. Spend time in the adoration chapel and remember this; “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. . .” (Romans 5:5)
May God bless us all with his hope.