For the past six months or so, the chemotherapy I’ve been receiving for a blood disease has caused what is known as “peripheral neuropathy.” In short, my hands and feet are numb. I tingle when I walk, which sounds a little like a line from a Broadway musical, but it’s less entertaining.
All in all, it’s a pretty small price to pay for all the work these killer-chemicals are doing to beat the disease into remission, so I’m not really complaining. But nevertheless this numbness is a strange and constant sort of reminder of the whole kit and caboodle—disease and treatment rolled into one unique experience.
I was at church not long ago feeling like I’d really rather be home, watching the game, putting my tingling feet up on the ottoman and allowing my peripheral neuropathy to ooze in from the edges and take over the rest of body and soul. I was numb all over—inside and out—and wasn’t in the mood to feel much of anything.
And this is what I believe: it’s a good thing that my faith, however fragile it can be from time to time, doesn’t rely on how I feel. My faith in God takes me further and deeper and closer to the truth than any feelings I might have on any given day.
The scripture reading that day (from the Book of Wisdom), grabbed me like an old mother cat grabs a newborn kitten—seemingly rough but actually gently and by the scruff of the neck. “Who can know God’s counsel,” it began, “or who can conceive what the Lord intends?” I swallowed hard. Who knows, indeed? It continued: “For the corruptible body burdens the soul…”
And even as the words about my corruptible body were spoken (for surely, I thought, these words were meant for me alone), I felt the lightening of my burden. At that instant, I recognized my “condition” for what it was—God’s intention for me. As I accepted (and even rejoiced) in that, I felt the numbness lift itself from my soul and mind, even as it stayed on the tips of my fingers and the balls of my feet.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not surrendering to the disease or blaming God; I am surrendering to God and learning what it means to trust and accept God’s will for my life. I don’t yet know how this disease and its treatment fit into the plans God has for me and my life. The disease is well on its way into “remission,” which is still a somewhat scary word because it doesn’t quite mean the same thing as “cured.” But I’ll take it.
I’ll take it and I’ll run with it. I will not be numb to God and His meaning and presence and intention for my life. I will not be numb to those around me. I will not be numb to the rest of my life. This I believe.
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