To appear normal on the outside, but be trapped inside a body that is causing indescribable discomfort must be one of the worst things anybody can bear. Afflictions such as migraines, Fibromyalgia, M.E. and the like, can send the sufferer into a depression so severe that all they want to do is die.
I know a lady who has had Parkinson’s Disease for many years. Her symptoms are far more severe than the tremors and mind-confusion: each day without warning, her body will suddenly send her head into a dizziness that is so bad she cannot describe it. While her head is spinning, her brain shuts down and cannot send the correct messages to her limbs to get them to move. Her arms and legs develop a shooting pain and in these minutes of torture all she wants is for God to take her life.
If that is not bad enough, her husband is as supportive as a spaghetti staircase. He tells her she is making it all up. He tells her he knows other people with the same disease who are full of energy. During her brain seizures, he tells her to stop play-acting and move. He tells her she doesn’t look ill, so therefore she isn’t. He tells her he is not prepared to help her around the house. He goes out 7 days a week while she remains stuck inside with nothing much to do. He leaves the house at 10am and returns home at 6. He takes his phone with him just in case she has another fall, but on the occasions she has phoned, it has gone to voicemail. If she collapsed at 11am, she would be lying there until he came home after 5pm, demanding his tea.
Her pillowcases are filthy because she doesn’t have the strength to change them. He is happy to pretend he doesn’t notice, because he doesn’t want her to think she can rely on his help. The carpet is smeared in thick dust. The bathroom sink is grimy and the bath looks like the one in ‘The Cat in The Hat Comes Back’ story. She hasn’t had a full night’s sleep for 4 years because she cannot move once laid down. Can you imagine lying on the same side all night long? She has no choice. Naturally, there are twitches and groans because of this, and in the morning, her husband complains that she kept him awake.
While the house gets dirty and the crockery piles up, she asks him to stack the dishwasher and put it on. He refuses saying, “I don’t know how to do it.” She asks him to help a little more round the house, like washing up his cup and plates when he has eaten and clearing up after his messy midnight feasts. He replies, “I don’t do cleaning.”
Unfortunately, she only qualifies for one 15 minute home-help a week, which although better than nothing, hardly covers cleaning the bathroom, let alone anywhere else.
Right now, this lady is struggling to believe God still loves her. She said she feels like he has thrown her in the corner and left her there to rot. She has slaved away for her husband all her life and in return has been rejected, treated with contempt and mocked for her illness. He cannot bear the fact that she can no longer run around after him like a puppy dog and is resentful that it is his turn to do a bit of serving.
He digs the knife in even more by ‘casually’ mentioning that somebody offered him a holiday abroad but he had to turn it down because of her. In rare moments of assertiveness when she complains about him being out of the house for so long, he tells her to be thankful he doesn’t have a mistress.
By now some of you are tutting and saying, “Man, he needs the Lord!” “He needs to read the word and find out what God thinks about all this.” Well dear folks… he has 5 bibles and he attends church each Sunday. Hold your breath for this bit…he’s even on the preaching rota. Oh yes.
What pleases God is not what we pretend to be. What pleases God is not what we say we are. What pleases God is not what we act out in front of those whom we want to impress. What pleases God is the heart, expressed in outwards acts of love, selflessness, humility, gentleness, grace and patience.
But you knew that already. Even those of you reading this who have never worshipped Jesus in your entire life.
My prayer today is that I never become so hardened that I cannot see the simple truth before me. My prayer is that I am never, ever used by the devil to cause someone else to suffer from depression and to lose their faith in the One who died for them. That is worse than cold-blooded murder and cannot be rectified by leaning on a lecturn spouting out pious platitudes in the name of ‘preaching the word.’
“What is the benefit, my fellow believers, if someone claims to have faith but has no good works as evidence? Can that [kind of] faith save him? No, a mere claim of faith is not sufficient—genuine faith produces good works.” (James 2:14)
“All the ways of a man are clean and innocent in his own eyes and he may see nothing wrong with his actions,. But the Lord weighs and examines the motives and intents of the heart and knows the truth.” (Proverbs 16:2)
Have a blessed day.