I am thinking about wishing again tonight. Life probably seemed so carefree when I was a child. I was blessed not to have big worries hanging over my head as a wee one. As I grew, there were issues but really in the big scheme of things, I had a roof over my head, food on the table at every meal, clothes on my back, and a fairly stable family around me. Yeah, I know, I said fairly stable. I am practicing my ability to fudge the truth. I could have said, I had a roof over my head, turnips that I fed to the house plants when my mother was not looking, and a wardrobe that caused the mean kids to bully me. That might be a bit more accurate but it seems undignified to share that with the whole world.
Part of being ill is trying to figure out how to respond to people who say ignorant things or want to know information that is more private. When I read the Gospel today from Matthew 5, I know I am supposed to pray for the people who are unknowingly unkind to me. I know the intent of their words are not to hurt me or that their lack of words are not to be equated with not caring. God makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good and rain on both the righteous and unrighteous. I get that. You and I may not always like it but that is why our God is a great God. No small mind or heart dwells in that massive Creator.
As I said to my counselor, good people die of cancer all the time. Being good will not save me. Having hundreds of holy people praying for me will help me on many levels–and it will help the people around me. Unfortunately, it may not change the outcome. Miracles exist for both the good and the evil and it does no harm to ask for one. Jesus clearly says to ask, seek, and knock. I believe and trust in a loving, compassionate and merciful God. I have five friends with cancer right now. We are all in various stages of our diseases and treatment. There is a chance that one of us won’t beat this disease.
I do not believe in a God who is looking down, playing eenie, meenie, minie, mo. I do not believe in a God who bases decisions on the merit system either because none of us would be worthy. I am no more worthy than some of the men that I visit in prison. This is not a scribe and tax collector moment. God is Love. I trust God to do the loving thing and to act with mercy and compassion. I believe that God has the whole picture and not just the page I have tried to rip out of the book in hopes of a different ending. I know God will use whatever happens for glory. It may be hard to believe when the going gets rough–and my recovery may still take an odd turn or twist–but I know God will always do what is best.
That afternoon in Assisi, standing in front of St. Clare’s tomb, I wept tears I did not understand. I hold lightly to what that might mean. I may well be gearing up for the next challenging leg of this journey. I suspect that the oncologist will recommend chemotherapy. Yes, that means all sorts of unpleasant side effects. I did not deserve this. I do not think I am an evil person. I am not a perfect person and I have made mistakes. However, neither am I a saint that should be spared suffering. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not jumping up and down, waving my arm, yelling out pick me! I am not going to pray for the cup to be taken away. I am going to pray that I be given enough grace to do the journey and hope that people see some reason to praise God even if the outcome is different than what was hoped for.
My faith has evolved over the years too so I do not want to sound like I am casting stones. I remember two decades ago when a dear friend received the news she had cancer, I was angry. She had an amazing marriage and two young children who I adored. I wanted someone who was not a good mom and wife to die instead. My thinking was pretty messed up back then. No one deserves cancer. All of us have days when we need a blessing. The sun should rise on everyone and the rain should fall. God does not play favourites. Each one of us is God’s beloved.
On one of the prayer cards I was given recently for Padre Pio, he says: Don’t waste energy on things that generate worry, anxiety and anguish. Only one thing is necessary: Lift up your spirit and love God. I want to do this journey with grace, love and mercy. I want to have joy and peace along the way. I want to grapple with my understanding of God and not cling to trite beliefs. I want to love God through it all and not let worry wrestle my peace from me.
What do you believe about how God should treat good and evil people? Is there room for a new understanding?