Physical illness, especially when it’s long-term, can unsettle your world. It saps your energy and possibly your finances. It throws your vulnerable mortality right in your face. And it can make you question God: His goodness, His power, His caring, and whether He ever intervenes in our lives today. You feel abandoned by God.
I remember Geraldine who came to see me for some gynecologic problems. She wanted to be pregnant, but dealing with her bleeding problems became the most important initial concern. Humanly speaking, it was unlikely she would ever give birth to a child. Geraldine also struggled with a large load of guilt and fear; ongoing abuse as a teenager had prompted her to engage in a number of unhealthy relationships for several years. She worried that her promiscuous lifestyle in the past was causing her problems now, and that God would have nothing to do with her.
When you’ve caused your own problems, at least in part, it may be even harder to believe that God will do anything for you:
- Infertility caused by a previous sexually-transmitted disease
- Lung disease caused by smoking
- Diabetes caused by being overweight
- Mental challenges after years of substance abuse
- Serious head injury caused by taking a foolish risk
At least if you did something to cause your own problems, you might not blame God for not wanting to help. But what about those times when the person suffering had nothing at all to do with causing their problems: