Marriage, Ministry and MS Part IV

Part IV – What’s been the most painful about MS?

Having a chronic illness in the family isn’t anything I’d wish on someone; at least it’s not something I’d wish on most people.

As I mentioned in my last blog about it, there actually have been some ways that we’ve benefited.

I was surprised that the greatest pain didn’t really come from the illness but the reactions of some people close to us. Here are some of the ways I’ve struggled with Chrysty’s illness.

• Watching her hurt and mourn.  Explanation – She’s always positive, always cheering, always encouraging. It’s tough to see her down periodically.

• Bad theology turned into personal attacks. “Don’t you believe what Jesus says in Matt 21:21 about telling the mountain to be moved into the sea? Maybe if you just had enough faith she’d be healed.”

My response – If a “lack of faith” is the reason my wife isn’t healed, then exercise some of your own amazing faith for us. Also, is it possible that this false teaching causes us to judge those that are most in need of our compassion?

• Our church was sympathetic but helped less than we assumed they would.

Explanation— During the first year of diagnosis, some great friends helped with food and transportation. Thank you so much! Most others were sympathetic, wanting to know the details but not actually helping. We expressed (when asked) two specific needs: 1) transportation help to get kids to practice, games etc… (five kids and Chrysty not able to drive) and 2) Money. That’s really it. Sympathy doesn’t pay the bills.

• Some in the church actually strongly opposed the church supporting us.

Explanation—After serving the same congregation for a number of years, working a job and having a reasonable amount of success and growth, our salary was less than 50% of the average for churches our size. We approached the church with our need for more income. One family we thought close to us expressed then (and now when given the opportunity) the following position: 1) Greed is causing you to ask for more. 2) If you can’t take care of your family and the church, resign. 3) We knew you were in this for the money.

Eventually they left the church. I’m not sure if their comments were more painful or the fact that other friends didn’t come to our defense.

I hope I’ve learned some things about dealing with people in crisis. What people need is practical support and a listening ear, on their terms.

“Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress. He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.” Psalm 107:6-8