No-one likes being sick – whether in body or in soul. It’s a reminder of our frailty and mortality. It stops us doing the things that give us identity. Even in short bursts, it can be isolating, depressing, wearying. But when it goes on for a long time – that’s a real killer.
To start with, it’s not so bad. There are options. Doctors to see, remedies to try. But the days turn into months. Months turn into years. As the avenues of hope close off, we too can close down. Our world becomes smaller. Perhaps it’s now just one room. A bed. The drawn curtains. A cold cup of tea, sitting by the side.
It’s just too painful to keep fighting the same battles – physically and mentally. Like being prodded in an open wound. Just when you think it’s closing, when you start to let out your breath – it starts, worse than before. Mentally and physically, you shut down and you shut out. People, God, life. They’re a reminder of what should be, of what’s been taken. You’ve got nothing to say to them. Instead, you retreat into a little space, where it doesn’t hurt so much. You simply exist.
In a million different ways, I’ve got it good – really good. But I’ve been in some dark places. Times when I’ve thought, ‘is it worth it?’ Times when I’ve felt too numb to speak, let alone pick up the Bible or the phone. Times when no-one and nothing could reach me. Times when, like Paul, I despaired of life itself.
I’m telling you this, because one of the worst things about being in that place is feeling so utterly alone. You can be surrounded by friends and loved ones and nothing gets through. But you’re not alone, I promise. And even in the darkest, blackest pits, there is a little light.
I don’t have answers about the why or how long of suffering. Nor have I got neat solutions. But I know, I know that Jesus is faithful. That He loves me and He loves you and He is with us and will never leave us. That He can trusted. That He makes ‘it’ worthwhile. That in the darkness, He promises to meet us and to speak hope, even when all earthly help has failed. That He has hold of us, even when we let go of Him. And that nothing in heaven or earth can separate us from Him.