Mercy Heals Your Soul When You’re Chronically Ill

Hallelujah Anyway Rediscovering Mercy

Chapter One Discussion Point

The truth in transformative grace received by faith is built on the foundation of love propelled by justice, mercy, compassion, and humility. In order to find the meaning of life, Anne Lamott in her book Hallelujah Anyway Rediscovering Mercy opines that we’ll have to face the great big mess especially the great big mess of ourselves. And in so doing, it’s up to each of us “to recognize the presence and importance of mercy everywhere – inside and outside of us, all around us. And use it to forge a deeper understanding of ourselves and honest connections with each other.”

I will not downplay the hardship I usually endure from the combined and overlapping symptoms of fibromyalgia, intermittent migraines with aura and nausea, episodes of a Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), digestive flares, and PMS.

Downplaying the challenges and effects of the aforementioned symptoms especially during episodes of a flare-up is shaming and providing a disservice to fellow chronic disease sufferers. The suffering is real. The struggle we face is real.

Last week was supposedly physically terrible for me, all evidence point to that inevitability. It was bad, physiologically. Mentally and spiritually, however, I was alright. By alright I don’t mean it in a self-righteous or unreal representation of handling chronic pains. I’m well informed of the pains and discomfort.

In some cases, certain medications used to treat the chronic illness may trigger depression. Be your informed wellness advocate. Check with your medical team and ensure that your doctors and medical support group are truly advocating for your healthcare and general well-being.

What I’m saying is that I am grateful that the full effect of the physical stress on the mental, spiritual, and social areas in my life was softened by the mercy I found in and around me. It’s not an easy process to develop this mercy and compassion awareness and skill.

What were the examples of mercy, you may ask? Three sessions of acupuncture spread through seven days, mentoring and coaching resources for my homeschooled 7th grader, household help provided by my 10th grader, Peanut M&Ms from hubby, excellent customer service from the car rental staff (my caravan’s ABS system had to be replaced), enriching book club discussion with kind women, text messages and phone calls from friends in my small Bible talk family group, phone conversations from my college kids, facial appointment, funny conversation with a new acquaintance, finishing two books, writing and publishing an article despite a slight cognitive issue, and etcetera.

The huge challenge in digging deeper into the heart of compassion and mercy is not just on the question of consistency but also in expanding the scope of mercy, compassion, and forgiveness that comes from the inner-self while holding on to the virtues of truth and justice. I’m getting the understanding now that the only way to get this right is by way of the faith I claim that received God’s gift of transformative grace. Faith that manifests a continuing journey of loving everyone everywhere and a complete understanding that this is the only acceptable offering to God. And as a consequent result of this manifested faith, I have also pushed myself to forge a whole new meaning to overall wellness and healing.

In desperation if not because of false comprehension of God’s divinity, our prayers lean towards childish cyclical requests.

Stay with me.

At some point in our mortal human existence, we all will get sick and we all will die. It’s not a matter of if, it’s when. So why then are we devoting too much of our prayer time to petitions and cries for a healthy physiology and beggings for a delay on the inevitable?

It’s a waste of time and effort when the answer to our prayer for physiological and psychological vitality lies already in each of us: mercy, justice, hospitality, friendship, generosity, intelligence, fortitude, peace, and justice. In one word it’s called love. Here’s what Romans 12:9-19 (MSG),

“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

Mercy is the child-like love that’s lies beneath the cluttered drawer of a grown life.

I found proofs of mercy abound everywhere – from within and outside of myself. From the genius of science to the unexpected compassion of the person next to me. From witnessing the voice of reason to the blind eye of Lady Justice. From M&Ms to a brand new sink. From decaf espresso to an old man’s corny jokes. From a book on mercy to women’s compassionate exchange of viewpoints. From accepting my physical vulnerabilities to cooking dinner with my 7th grader.

Our physical body will age. It will get sick. It will face a trauma it can’t escape. Death will come upon us. Hence praying for physical immortality or longevity is pointless. Instead, why don’t we work on the love that’s planted inside of us? Why not enrich each other’s short existence on earth by loving on each other instead of asking God for something that’s obviously not His (or Her) priority for us? God has already provided us an answer to every petition we’ll ever ask of Him (or Her). Didn’t He (or She) say to Paul that His grace should be sufficient?

God’s grace is sufficient. God’s grace is evidenced by the life of Christ. It is directed by the greatest and second commandments rooted in love (Matthew 22:37-40). God’s grace cannot be earned but it can be received by faith alone. Faith in God is founded and grown in shared love. It’s described in the Book of Micah as the only acceptable offering God requires, ”…to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

The vision is to love everyone everywhere and the radical goal is to develop an attitude of “Hallelujah anyway.” This is where healing and overall wellness will come from.

Mercy. Recognizing the presence and importance of mercy everywhere – inside and outside of us, all around us. And use it to forge a deeper understanding of ourselves and honest connections with each other. From the genius of science to celebrating each other’s uniqueness to the radical demonstration of compassion and justice for all.

Hallelujah anyway. Today is the only right time to rediscover the miracle and the healing power of mercy.

Share

Leave a Reply