Larry and I went to visit my brother John yesterday. John, a retired police officer, had a stroke about two years ago at age 54. He has had numerous complications since including the condition transverse myelitis. He lives with chronic pain.
Once, years ago, when we were studying the Book of Job, the priest teacher commented that the hardest suffering was the condition where a person was suffering and it wasn't going to get better. He had only one prospect, a worsening condition, with the only exit being death. John is Job. Short of a miraculous intervention, he will live the rest of his life with one side mostly paralyzed and minimal ability to walk or do much for himself.
I can only imagine the challenge his condition offers. And that's why people who live in such situations need lots and lots of support: physical support, of course, but spiritual support even more.
Have you visited a nursing home lately? Many people there are bed and wheelchair bound. Some are unaware of their condition. Others suffer not only from their physical limitations, but from the mental agony of watching their deterioration and remembering how things used to be.
I remember one lady Larry and I visited every Sunday, dead now, who bemoaned her fate every time we saw her. She lived at home until she was about 90 years old when her caregiver got sick. (She almost blamed her caregiver for getting cancer and abandoning her.) She lived in the nursing home for about six years and never accepted her situation. Her memory was sharper than mine: sometimes she asked about something we told her the week before. Sadly, she made her own life miserable and often that of those around her, including her daughter. She was angry at God and occasionally, if I chided her gently, she would order me out of the room. But she always welcomed me back. I pray she reconciled with God in the end and went to him like a little child.
Life is filled with challenges and sufferings. One of the greatest charities we can perform is to walk on the suffering road with others, praying and encouraging. Please pray for John and for all those living Job lives. This saying is so true: "Life is fragile, handle with prayer." Somebody needs your prayer today, and perhaps a visit? It's a corporal work of mercy.