Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's easy to believe in God when life is going well.

I have found myself, since getting RSD, having a serious crisis of faith. I have always been somewhat of an Agnostic (drifting toward paganism if it must be defined), with sort of a sketchy idea of who I thought God was. Since becoming injured, and living in such pain, I'm not sure what to think about God. If God is so good and so powerful, and loves us so much, why does he allow suffering? Not just my suffering, but any suffering. It seems to me that if God could end suffering, then He's a bit mean-spirited if he doesn't. If He knows I'm on the brink of survival, hanging on to my last thread of coping, why doesn't He help me?

I've been told that "God never gives you more than you can handle." I'm not sure I buy that. Sure, that's nice in theory, but He has sure given some of us a heck of a lot more than others. And how do you account for the suicides from chronic pain? There are clearly, well-documented cases of people suffering from horrendous pain, taking their own life because they just could not cope. So God did give them more than they could handle.

Okay, I've also been told that "there's a bigger plan, we just can't see it." Well, that seems very convenient. If that's the case, and it was preordained that I would suffer, then what's the point of all of my fighting. Why battle disease if it's inevitable.

I've been told that "if I just prayed to the right God, He would help." Oh, nice one. Put the burden of my suffering square on my shoulders. That sounds like the doctors who, when they run out of ideas, blame the patient. Essentially, it's my fault. Well that's an awful small and petty God too. He could help me, but He has chosen not to because I worship Him by a different name.

Then there's "God doesn't catch every falling sparrow." The Universe is too big for God to deal with the small things. Sometimes people just have to suffer. Then why pray at all? And certainly, why do we pray at a child's football game? Why do we pray for good grades in school? These things sure seem smaller than suffering. And why can't God answer every call anyway? If He's all-knowing and all-powerful, then how can he be too busy to answer even the smallest prayer. "God doesn't catch every falling sparrow" sure sounds like "He can't do it all - There are limits to God's power" to me.

I keep getting back to, if there is a God, and he loves us so much and wants us to come to him when we are suffering, why doesn't He intervene? Why can't He give me the one day off that I've been asking for for years? I just need one day to catch my breath and get back on top of this pain. One day to remind me what it was like to live pain free. It's been so long now that I don't even remember what it was like to feel well. To be able to just run out to the store for something - now it's an ordeal of wheelchairs and crutches. Or to be able to take my nephew to the zoo? Is it too much to ask for for just one day? Apparently it is. Because I have been asking for years, and so far, nothing. Either He can't or he won't. which is it?

But more to the point, how do I keep believing in a God who has left me here? He sees all, He knows all .... then he knows my crisis. Is he incapable of helping, or is he choosing not to? I'm not sure it matters, either of those lessens God in my view.

I haven't said any of the above to be inflammatory. Believe me, the last thing I need or want is to make people angry. I say it because it is a true crisis of faith. God was very easy to believe in when things were going well. Now, when I need Him the most, I have so many unanswered, and unanswerable, questions.


  1. Ah, Judy-my-twin, this is the hard one, the big one, isn't it? Nobody wants to admit that their spiritual faith comes down, bottom line, to "let the mystery be," but you know what? It always does, whether that faith is very mainstream and regulated or a bit more. . . . individualized. If "it" -- whatever "it" is -- didn't require a certain amount of ultimate acceptance, of giving-over, it wouldn't be faith, it would be. . . .reality. It's the trying to wrap our minds around something that we can't touch, can't hold in our hands, that makes us mad -- in both the "crazy" and the "angry" meanings of that word. Maybe we can think only to the end of the map of our wee human minds and, beyond that, there be God. . . or perhaps there be dragons.

    It might be that God doesn't expect to be understood, because she realizes that is impossible. Maybe she just IS, and the best way to communicate is in silence, without questions, or requests, or anything, really, other than your beingness. Purists might call this meditation. . . . I think it is more a coming together of your soul and of Holy Spirit, which may be the soul of God.

    Perhaps God communicates with each of us differently, and Her way with you is straight to your soul. Perhaps also the way She needs you to be with this world is straight from your soul. So, perhaps, it has been necessary to strip away the physical capabilities that would get in the way of that. Surely your lovingness, your kindness, your humor, your creativity, are soul-gifts to the world, ones for which you do not need to dance, or work in an office. . . or ski.

    (Perhaps, of course, it all boils down to "shit happens". . . . but I hope not).

    What I know for sure is that John did a fine, fine day's work when he looked at you the very first time and said, "That's my lady!" and brought you into our clan. You are loved and cherished and admired and a deep, true blessing.

  2. Maggie ~

    Thank you. What lovely thoughts that I will truly meditate on. Perhaps you're right, I'm expecting God to "be" something, to "do" something, and that's *my* issue. I need to really spend some time on that.

    It is interesting that the crisis of faith doesn't come until you "need" something, and then feel abandoned. Perhaps we should contemplate these things all the time, not just when we are in crisis.

    And I agree that it is a human deficiency that we can't imagine that there is anything outside of our small understanding. I cannot understand what I cannot understand. And that is especially true for me, I am a very mathematics-minded person - I like things to be orderly and linear, with a correct answer that I can "prove in the lab." God doesn't lend Her/Himself well to that. And there is faith.

    Hmmm, things to ponder. Thank you for that.

  3. This seems trite, and I don't mean for it to be... but I am a Christian, and believe that this life is short, and we are in for an afterlife in which we are judged and rewarded for what we are now. I think you and I are part of a plan, one that is bigger than we can ever understand.
    We were given free will, and the decisions we make unfortunately or fortunately, affect others... the butterfly effect. So, unfortunately, you are suffering the effects of a quack who should stop doing what he is doing... should never have done it if he wasn't good at it! we took an oath, after all.
    Now, you are in the situation you are in. What are you doing about it? You have free will too.

    You have decided that life is worth living, despite the pain. You have NOT permanently scarred your mother, sister, and your loved ones, especially the kids! You have worked hard at staying the same caring and amazing person I met so many years ago, and have succeeded, from what I can see. Now, you are loving a wonderful man every day, and making him happy and whole. You are feeding the birds, and clothing poor kids, and becoming a support system for others who are in pain and may not have your determination and strength.
    From your point of view, I can see how you feel all those things about God. But from the outside, from my point of view, anyway, I can see how God is using you to affect soooooo many people's lives, and who knows who you may reach? You will someday, unbeknownst to you, reach someone who will live and be strong and do what they were meant to do, which will be amazing.

    Your job is to live, and not just exist. Your job is to live the life you are living, and take care of yourself. You are helping countless others, and you deserve your income, and you don't have to justify to those who can't see the bigger picture. Just do what you do, and be kind and patient with them, for they do not know what they do. But you do.
    I love and miss you, Judy!


  4. Wow my friend, what a beautiful, heartfelt thing to say. I have spent a lot of time thinking about God lately. Faith is difficult in suffering, but that doesn't mean it isn't still there. I do believe that there is a bigger plan, a reason for all this pain. John and I were just discussing tonight that perhaps the purpose of my suffering is to help others understand suffering better. I've learned a lot in the years that I have battled this horrible disease. It's why I started this blog. I know the depression and anger that I went through. I really want to help even one person learn coping mechanisms before they spiral down into the kind of depression I faced. I am beginning to believe that that may be part of my purpose.

    I'm still pondering all of this. I love that you shared your thoughts with me. I hope you will continue to do that, and I hope that others will share their thoughts on the crisis of faith that comes with suffering.

    Thank you so much Judy,