October 26, 2016: A Contest of Suffering

~by Louis Templeman


My God do not stay afar off, Make haste and come to my help. Through your anger all my body is sick . . . My guilt towers higher than my head . . . O Lord, you know all my longing; my groans are not hidden from you . . . My God do not stay afar off! Make haste and come to my help. ~Psalms 38: 4-10

When you are suffering you want help quick. “Make haste!” cries the psalmist in his pain. When Mary heard from the angel that her old cousin was pregnant she knew Elizabeth was in for some suffering. So she made haste to go help.

Suffering easily motivates us to pray. And in prayer we ask God to make haste. It would be nice if prayer was equivalent to calling 911. A person is hurt at home or on the road, call 911 and here comes the emergency vehicles with flashing lights. That is the human conception of haste.

Hebrews 10: 32f speaks of a “great contest of suffering.” It even refers to the joyful acceptance of this suffering. St. Therese said “if we are to know God’s love we cannot avoid suffering. The standard for haste in this walk of faith is not an emergency vehicle. It is patience endurance with confidence that help is on the way. It will be enough and it will not be late.”

“For after just a brief moment, he who is to come will come he shall not delay. But my just one shall live by faith.” This “brief moment” in regard to one human lifespan is often a long slow ride. However from a perspective of eternity haste is an appropriate term. The writer of Hebrews continues: “We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life.”

As I write this journal I am reminded of a daily rosary I made for over a month. I offered up four intentions; one of the four was my health specifically my trembling left hand. Since I made my prayer the tremor has only gotten progressively worse. For a Parkinson’s patient the word “progressive” is one daunting term. I don’t like it. But what can I do? Bitch and complain?

Suffering can feel like the enemy. My enemies whisper against me. They all weigh up the evil which is on me (Ps 41). I know with this Parkinson’s I am dealing with, it is indeed like I am besieged by an enemy. I will fight but, I will always be in a long slow retreat.

I have to adjust my life style and lower my expectation of what my body is capable of. I am in a contest of suffering and I want Jesus, the Healer, by my side (even if he is only like a doctor comforting me as I slowly deteriorate.)

It was our infirmities that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole; by his stripes we were healed. Isaiah 53: 4 – 6.

So I trust he has carried this problem I have. Evidently he has chosen not to lift it from me but to carry it with me. Whether or not I acknowledge Christ in this time of need, I will endure this disease. So the choice is, I can embrace his presence in this trouble or I can walk this difficult road by myself. I can have his presence through this problem or I can just have the problem.

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Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D. Louis has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is fighting the good fight. Much of what he writes these days he is sharing his journey with us. Please keep Louis and his wife Joy in your prayers.

CLICK HERE to visit Louis’ Catholic Journeyman Archive

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