The Struggle For Women to Be Believed

I watched the entire Oprah interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry a few weeks back. I have learned the hard way that just because someone seems believable doesn’t mean they are telling the truth. But it surely still means something when someone comes across as believable and sincere. Both Meghan and Harry came across that way to me.

Oprah's Prince Harry & Meghan Markle Interview: First Clips From CBS -  Variety
Photo Credit: Variety.com

Their most explosive revelation was that someone high up in the royal family had expressed concern over whether their baby’s skin would be too dark. This was said to Harry, and then repeated to Meghan. For their part, they refused to reveal who in the royal house had raised the racist concern. Though I’m sure damage was done to the reputation of the monarchy, they could have named names. They appeared to be taking the high road.

Honestly, I would have taken no further note of it except the next day was full of high profile (mostly British) celebrities claiming Meghan was lying. Piers Morgan became so angry in his accusation that he ended up resigning from “Good Morning Britain.” There were many others making similar accusations, who had no way of knowing that what Meghan claimed was true or not.

Let’s back up a moment. Who made the claim? Meghan was only repeating what Harry told her. Harry confirmed the story to Oprah (the first part of the interview was just with Meghan), but no one was calling him a liar. Why was Meghan the target and not Harry. If Meghan was lying then so was Harry (or even maybe just Harry). Why were so few people willing to name him the liar?

It could be that Meghan drew fire because she is an American, but it could also be, in part, because she is a woman. Why I am writing about royal intrigue on a blog about chronic pain and illness? Because I have heard again and again from women who are not believed by medical professionals and others concerning the pain they are experiencing. The same experience certainly happens to men, but it is much more likely to happen to women. This conclusion is not just based on a hunch. Studies back it up.

The reasons for this bias against women are varied, complex, and go beyond the scope of this post. And I know Meghan Markle’s story isn’t the same as being doubted by a doctor. But whether it is a story like Meghan’s, victims of sexual abuse, or disbelieving someone’s experience with physical pain, it seems harder for women to be believed than men.

Today, is Easter. The first witnesses of the empty tomb were women. A woman’s testimony was not even allowable in a court of law. Yet, God purposely chose women to be the first witnesses of the resurrection. He chose those who would be doubted simply because of their gender. Jesus’ own apostles rejected their testimony:

An empty tomb. A gateway to resurrection life! – Insights Magazine
Women at the empty tomb via insights.uca.org.au

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.

Luke 24:9-11 (Biblegateway.com, NIV)

Nonsense. But that’s who Jesus wanted telling his story first. God places a premium value on the word of women.

It isn’t that we need to believe the word of a woman more than a man. A good starting point would be that we believe the word of a woman as much as the word of a man. One of the most powerful gifts Broken and Mended can give women is to let them know that in this ministry you will be believed. Men and women owe that much to one another. And it is for that kind of culture we will strive.

We hear you. We believe you. We support you.

Posted in Resurrection, Women and Chronic Pain | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is Your Illness God’s Plan?

Someone recently told me that they had been told all their life that “God’s plan is always the mitigating factor in one’s life.” I heard someone else claim that her life-altering stroke was God’s plan for her. I know many others who would recoil at this kind of suggestion. How could it be God’s plan for me to suffer? They may even decide, “If that is who God is, then I don’t want anything to do with him.”

Some draw great comfort from the idea that God has everything planned out. Not everyone in this category is necessarily a five-point Calvinist, but they likely have a robust view of God’s sovereignty. These people can deal better with tragedy and setback by emphasizing God’s plan in all things. They don’t necessarily think God causes all things, but for them, God wouldn’t allow it if it wasn’t part of the plan.

Image result for is your illness God's will
God DOES have a plan, but how does your illness fit into that plan?

Others are comforted by the idea of God entering into our suffering, the one who empathically hurts with us. They are likely to see many things in our world that are not the will of God. They aren’t trying to doubt God’s sovereignty, but they are not comforted by the thought of their pain being part of the grand design.

Where you fit into this spectrum is greatly influenced by many factors, including your faith upbringing, personality, and experiences. I am not sure that the Bible gives us a clear answer. There are some examples of someone’s suffering serving a greater divine plan like Job and obviously Jesus. But when you read the Psalms you encounter a great many people who simply do not believe their suffering makes sense at all. Psalm 10:1 opens with “Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”

The Bible is fairly resistance to giving answers as to why something terrible has happened. What is modeled is crying out to God in our distress and resolving to trust him when we don’t have answers. Clearly, not everything that happens in this world or in your life is God’s will. Why else would Jesus teach us to pray, “…your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The prayer recognizes a gap between God’s heavenly will and what is happening on earth. The prayer seeks to close that gap.

I make it a point not to challenge someone if they tell me what has happened to them is God’s will. After all, how would I know? I also never tell someone what has happened to them IS God’s will. Again, how would I know that? The tension between the sovereignty of God and the various happening on earth, good and bad, remain in tension until the reign of God is fulfilled in a new heaven and a new earth.

Image result for why god
Do we trust God when we don’t get an answer?

I know it is not God’s ultimate will for any of us to hurt or be sick. And that one day we will be in a new heaven and a new earth where “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:4). I can’t figure out why this thing or that thing happens to me or to you, but I know that God is good, and his will ultimately prevails. And I will trust him as we await that glorious day!

Posted in Character of God, Chronic Illness and Spirituality, Theodicy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Post-Covid Future

That’s what we are all looking forward to; isn’t it? Covid-19 might not ever be fully gone, but, at least, the pandemic will be behind some time this year. Right now, things are still very bad. Some 4,000 people are dying every day. We just passed 400,000 deaths overall, and that is just in the States. The tragedies compound with every hospitalization, funeral, or loss of a business or dream. The pandemic has been the nightmare of our lifetimes. But it does not get the last word.

Before Christmas I was planning some words apropos to the season with a few words about the future of Broken and Mended. Then I got Covid. That put a stop to everything for a while. I recovered, but was behind. Christmas and New Year’s was upon us, and I never got around to this post.

Covid has interrupted everything, including Broken and Mended. We have not had an in-person meeting since last Spring. I have not been able to help other groups get started.

However, not all was lost during this time. We had many wonderful virtual meetings with people from all over the country. I was able to finish drafts of both a leader’s guide (to be used in new groups) along with a participant’s guide with reflections and Scripture for every lesson. I am currently seeking out professional assistance for book design and layout, but they should be ready by the Summer. This means it is very likely that we will have other local Broken and Mended groups some time in 2021!

This also the year that I anticipate recruiting a board and forming a non-profit. This will open up the gates to not only starting new groups, but eventually creating many new resources/materials to help others in the struggle with chronic pain/illness. We will be able to raise funds that will go directly to these efforts.

The Best Kept Financial Secret for Non-Profit Organizations | by Ryan  Griggs | Medium

As with all such visions, there are many curves in the road. We can only go a step at a time. I have a modest goal of starting three new Broken and Mended groups this year, publishing/printing the books, and forming the non-profit. If all that happens in 2021, I will be thrilled!

Covid-19 has robbed us many things but not our future. Vision allows us to see beyond the suffering of the present moment. All Christians need eyes trained with eschatological vision. No matter what happens, we can always see how God will sum up everything in the end. None of the horrors of this world will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. “No, in all these things we are more than victorious
through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37, HCSB).

Living with vision for a ministry or a church or your family is not the horizon of your vision. We see those things with our eyes cast to the final horizon of time itself, the end of time, the end of all that wars against us. Eph. 1:10 (NIV) says these things are “to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” What is Covid compared to unity of all things in creation under Christ? Indeed, not much at all!

Posted in Covid-19, Covid-19, Eschatology | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Wrong With Us?

A couple of weeks ago, I had intended to write a blog on the issue of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) and its impact on the chronically ill community. The issue was before the supreme court again. I am bothered by the political conversations that so often leave out the ones who will suffer the most if the courts were to strike down the ACA.

11 Things You Need to Know About ACA Open Enrollment

When my wife left full-time teaching, we no longer had guaranteed insurance. When we signed up for “Obama Care,” it wasn’t a political decision but a survival one. I’ve talked to others who are covered by the ACA, and the consequences of it being struck down suddenly would be dire. Regardless of your political position on government subsidized healthcare, to callously not care what would happen to hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people with pre-existing conditions just so your “team” could get a political win is strong evidence that there’s something wrong with you. Yes, you.

I’m sorry if that stings, but it is disturbing to witness the lack of empathy being demonstrated in our political mudslinging. I couldn’t just write about ACA to emphasize the need to care about those who need it to survive because I’ve been too stunned by the heartless rhetoric being shouted across the graves of more than a quarter million Americans who have died of Covid!

The worst–other than the outlandish conspiracy theories that treat the whole thing as a hoax–is the callous and ill-informed mantra of the 99% that will get the disease and be okay. It as if millions of people can completely tune out the tearful pleas of our doctors and nurses, who are begging us to take this serious as they have had to hold the hand of another patient dying in isolation, or have seen another semi-truck arrive at their hospital to be a makeshift morgue.

First of all, followers of Jesus might remember the pastoral example of his own parable in Luke 15. Jesus is the shepherd who leaves the 99 to rescue the 1. Even if only 1% die from COVID, we should care about every one of those people. But keep in mind, that many people suffer greatly who do not die. Either their lives were irrevocably changed by a long stay in ICU and/or they become COVID long haulers.

Second, it has never been about the percentage of people dying. That percentage is contextually dependent upon the availability of care at the time of their medical crisis. As we continue to deplete our medical resources and ICU availability, that number will go up. Millions will die while myopic people rant about it affecting only 1%. This 1% (though again, I dispute that characterization) are the most vulnerable, those we Christians are most called to care for.

I have listened to many who struggle with chronic illness for years tell stories of not being believed by doctors. This is an unacceptable wrong, and we all know how valuable it is to find a doctor who will believe us. How strange is it now that we are not believing our doctors (and other healthcare professionals). I’ve seen an ICU nurse called a liar by several people on Twitter just for saying his hospital morgue was full.

New York City Mass Graves On Island Are Increasing Because Of COVID-19 :  Coronavirus Updates : NPR
Mass grave in New York (Yes, in this nation!)

I’ve also seen this notion circulated that we should let the medically vulnerable stay at home and the rest of us get on with our lives. This is such a callous attitude for so many reasons, but let’s start with the assumption that it is an option for all medically vulnerable people to stay at home! Many of us would lose our livelihoods if we did that. Many of us have school children. We can’t just withdraw from society! But that you would desire it means there’s something wrong with you. Yes, you.

Do I seem angry? You bet I am. I am angered nearly every day by the layers of disinformation and the daily merciless dismissal of so much humanity. Sometimes I can’t believe this is how we are not as a society. I ask all the time, “What is wrong with us?”

But the truth is most people don’t think there’s anything wrong. Or they just see their political opponents as having all the problems. Just be careful you don’t trip over any bodies on your way to throwing your next political punch. God, have mercy.

Posted in COVID-19 and Empathy, Ethics, Imago Dei | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

For the Undiagnosed

Tips to Thrive When You Have an Undiagnosed Chronic Illness – Pain Resource
Photo Credit: painresource.com

One of the more frustrating tales you will hear from those in the chronically ill community is an all too common story of being undiagnosed, sometimes for years, sometimes forever. This leads to confusion regarding treatment plans and accusations of being overdramatic. Frustrated doctors might turn on their own patients and imply or even directly state that the problem is all in the head of the patient. Meanwhile, the one who is desperate for help is made to feel like he or she is the problem instead of someone with a legitimate medical problem.

I experienced a little of this at the beginning of my medical problems. After I injured both of my hips, I had no shortage of well-meaning people telling me I just had something out of alignment and just needed to see a chiropractor. I did eventually see one, who did not help at all. It amazed me how difficult it was for someone just to take my word for it that I had hurt my hips.

My GP didn’t help much either. When I tried to explain why I felt her theory did not match up with my experience, she became agitated and said, “Well, thankfully we have a great sport’s doctor right here in town.” She was dismissing me to go see him. So, I did. Long story short, he eventually suggested that it “might” be in my head and that seeing an orthopedic surgeon wouldn’t make any difference.

Well, I did see an orthopedic surgeon, thankfully. And then I saw another one, who eventually did surgery on both of my hips because of extensive injuries. I also saw a rheumatologist who gave me a diagnosis on the first visit. Since those early days, my experience with doctors has been mostly positive. Getting the right diagnosis was key to an understanding of what I had to deal with and allowed me to partner with my medical professionals with a successful plan of treatment.

It took me about a year and a half to go from the initial injury to diagnosis, but I know that I was lucky. And I have heard many of your stories about it taking years, even decades to get an accurate diagnosis. I can’t imagine how difficult that is. Some have had doctors give up on them leaving them desperate with no solutions on the horizon to even make their life liveable.

Recent conversations have reminded me of this struggle. I was also reminded by our unsuccessful attempts to diagnose a leak in our basement. One contractor and two plumbing companies have already tried. We still don’t know the problem, and it could turn into a financially ruinous situation. Sound familiar?

One day I was praying about our situation with the basement, I started thanking God that at least it wasn’t my body that we couldn’t understand why it was falling apart. And it reminded me of you…the undiagnosed.

There is no diminishing your struggle. I know you need answers. The only encouragement I can give you is to not give up. Meet with yet another doctor. Maybe the next one will finally commit to finding out what is wrong no matter what.

And find some people who will believe you. I will believe you. The good folks in the Broken and Mended ministry are committed to believing you, and even more…we will pray for you and not give up on you and your journey.

Take a little comfort today that God understands what is happening to you. Like the persistent widow (Lk. 18:1-8) of Jesus’ parable, keep petitioning the ruler of heaven and earth. The point of the parable is not to say that God is like the unrighteous judge, but rather that if even such a person will reward persistence, then how much more will our righteous God?

I can’t promise any answers or the timing of those answers, but I can promise that God will be with you no matter what is ahead. For that is his promise to all his disciples, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Doctors, friends, and even family may give up on you and leave you, but not Jesus, not ever.

Posted in Undiagnosed Chronic Illness | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Practical Theism In the Midst of Chronic Pain

Though Broken and Mended is a Christian support ministry for those dealing with chronic illness and pain, I desire to create a culture that is welcoming to all. The question is will people who do not believe in God or have an active commitment to Jesus Christ want to be a part of a ministry that can’t help but reference belief in divine help and redemptive hope in Christ?

Obviously, people who are hostile toward Christian faith are not likely to be attracted or hang around this ministry very long. But perhaps, someone who is undecided about matters of faith will stick around long enough to see what Christian faith offers to people in the throes of chronic illness.

Allow me an important clarification: If God is not real, then he cannot help you. God cannot be just a crutch to get us through life. If God does not exist, then I would not advise anyone to seek help from him anymore than I would tell someone to go to the Tooth Fairy for financial advise. My conviction is that there is a God, and therefore, who better to help us through life’s trials?

There are a lot of other convictions behind that rhetorical question. To name a few: God is able to help us. God wants to help us. God is able to be known, etc. I don’t want to have to defend each conviction today, but I do want to explain why I believe that faith in God is vital to successfully living with chronic pain.

If there is no God, then there can no redemptive purpose for your pain. Your pain is simply a physiological response hardwired into your body and mind through millions of years of evolution. It would not be in itself evil (just unlucky) because moral categories of good and evil would be mere contrivances. Further, your fate is simply to hurt until you die and then oblivion.

I realize that some atheist who is striving to live a meaningful life might not like that. I am not trying to discourage anyone. I’m just saying that from my perspective any other coping method without God is simply kicking the can down the road until there is no more road. In such a scenario, every person with chronic illness/pain is distinctly disadvantaged to their healthier peers (though we should note that oblivion is their fate as well). There is no transcendent One to help anyone. We just have to get by as best we can.

I don’t hurt any less because of my faith than those who don’t share in my faith or any faith. And I certainly have some rotten days where it is hard for me to appreciate the point of living. But faith in God as revealed through Jesus Christ always calls me back to trust and hope. I absolutely believe that there will be a day when the pain will end–not by oblivion–but by immortality. That hope gives me a horizon that does not stare directly down into the grave. That, in itself, is of immeasurable value.

How to Use the Three Horizons for Future Sensemaking - Disruptor League
What’s on your horizon? Photo Credit: Disrputorleague.com

But my hope is not relegated only to hope of heavenly bliss with God (though it is hard to diminish what that means). I will leave you with one of my favorite passages that describes how God redeems pain and suffering in this life to shape me into a person of greater character than I would be without suffering. Suffering itself may not be good, but God is still working good in my suffering (Rom. 8:28).

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:1-5
Posted in Theodicy | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

At the Intersection of Grief, Depression, and Illness

Elizabeth Township supervisors add 2 stop signs to 3-way intersection |  News | lancasteronline.com

I was disheartened last week to witness what transpired on Skip Bayless’ show on Fox Sports called “Undisputed.” Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback, Dak Prescott, had recently shared in an interview his struggle with depression in the wake of his brother’s suicide in April. Bayless, who is known for his shock jock hot-takes, went too far when he offered his view on Dak’s admission:

“He’s the quarterback of America’s team. The sport that he plays is dog-eat-dog. It is no compassion, no quarter given on the football field. If you reveal publicly any little weakness, it can affect your team’s ability to believe in you in the toughest spot.”

Bayless had also said that he had no sympathy for Dak and was seemingly unmoved by the contrary words of his co-host, former NFL star, Shannon Sharpe. Here’s the video that summarizes the exchange and the response of Bayless’ employer.

I suppose I ought to be encouraged by the nearly unanimous condemnation of Bayless’ comments. However, I know there are still many people out there who feel like Skip. When you are a leader, you should never show any sign of weakness.

This is the very opposite of the approach we are taking with “Broken and Mended.” We believe that brokenness is where the precious metal of God’s refinement shines through. When we are transparent with our suffering, not only are we freed from the pressure of keeping up appearances, but others discover they are not alone because of the one who spoke up.

The Japanese are of Kintsugi–where precious metal shines through brokenness.

It is, of course, ridiculous to think that someone like Dak Prescott suffers any less from the death of a loved one because he is rich and famous. Grief and depression may not be the same things, but it is easy to see how grief leads to depression.

Likewise, the loss of dreams, comfort, productivity, or an abled-body can lead to crippling grief. Over time, this grief has a numbing effect, but not in a good way. Depression begins to set in as you feel hopeless for any change in your circumstances or reclaiming anything that has been lost because of chronic illness.

Please do not try to suffer through this deadly intersection of grief, depression, and illness alone. Please do not try to keep silent in order to keep up appearances. There is a greater occurrence of suicide in those who suffer with chronic pain. This is an intersection, when it must be crossed, we do so vigilantly.

It is advisable to seek the help of a licensed counselor and your doctor. Feel free to reach out to me at brokenandmended18@gmail.com. Here are ways you can get connected to the Broken and Mended as a ministry.

Don’t listen to Skip Bayless. Don’t be like him either! Be like Dak.

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Should We Look Forward to Death?

Last time I wrote (it has been a while!), I discussed the “Sacredness of Life.” If life is inherently sacred, then doesn’t it follow that death is the thief that robs us of what is most precious? Logically, life and death are opposite ends of the spectrum, not only from a physiological perspective but a theological one as well.

Yet, you can hear confusing messages about death all the time. Far from viewing death as an enemy to be defeated, many Christians talk about death as “no big deal.” “We are all going to die anyway.” Lately, these kinds of glib comments have been used to diminish our need to be concerned with the Coronavirus. We are all going to die anyway, so what’s the big deal? Why should we care?

Even before these troubling days, I have often heard Christians describe death as an escape from suffering. There is some truth to that. People suffering with intractable pain, may agree with the apostle Paul who once said, “…to die is gain…I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far…” (Phil. 1:21, 23). Paul had suffered much. He was not afraid of death. He knew that his reward lay beyond death, but please do not think that Paul thought death itself was the reward.

Today, you hear people throwing caution to the wind because, “I am not afraid of death!” But if you are, “You should stay home!” Such comments are full of false piety and completely devoid of real life situations. They aren’t saying these comments from the solemn ground of a freshly dug grave or as their final words from their deathbed. Rather, they speak them out of the selfish hubris that has consumed a nation.

My comments here are not meant to be political, though politically outraged people will take them that way. I am making a theological point that is also thoroughly biblical. Death is the enemy. The same Paul we heard from earlier said so. At the return of Jesus, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:26).

Death: The last enemy
I’ve seen a lot of memes/captions attributing this quote to J.K. Rowling. Hmm, no, the apostle Paul was first by about 1,965 years!

Yes, death can be a passageway to heavenly reward. And no, Christians should not fear death, because Jesus has defeated it. But treating death flippantly and acting as if there are no consequences diminishes the victory that Jesus has won over death. When I stand on that sacred ground in which we lay a loved one to rest, I know death will not have the last word. That is why I can face it, not because “we’re all going to die anyway.”

When I think of death as an escape from the pain, I understand the sentiment. But it is our culture, not Scripture, that treats death as an ally and suffering as an enemy. While suffering will ultimately not have a place in God’s new creation, it does have a sanctifying role to play in this death-marred world (e.g. Rom. 5:1-5).

I choose to keep living, even when it hurts, because that is the way I honor my Creator and the sacredness of the life he gave me. And though pain is no small matter, God can use it to increase my nearness to Jesus, and through faithful living, I can glorify him. I care about my life; I care about yours too, and so does God. Let’s try to honor the life God has given each of us!

Posted in Imago Dei, Theodicy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Sacredness of Life

A few years ago, I paid Right On Mission to help me develop a personal mission statement. I had never been big on such things, but I had a previous relationship with the professor (Dr. Sarah Sumner), and she offered me a good deal. It also came with another class that helped me develop a plan for the Broken and Mended ministry.

Basically, I shared my whole life story with Sarah. She asked me a series of questions that ranged from my hobbies to what made me angry. But it was her job to craft the mission statement. After about three hours, she came up with this: “To acknowledge the stardom of every person’s life.”

Star - Wikipedia
Everyone’s a “star” in God’s eyes

“Stardom” is connected to my love for the stars in God’s heavens. It had nothing to do with the celebrity of someone’s life or even their accomplishments. The word was chosen to convey the personal sacredness of every human being bestowed on them by a God who makes us all in his image.

It is a meaningful mission statement, but I soon discovered that it was not chosen for me because I had mastered it. Rather, it took intentional effort to regard each person I met as sacred. I had made my own distinctions between people and had catered to my own favorites. My mission statement was an ideal that needed a lot of repentance to take shape in my life.

Let me confess that though I have made substantial progress, I believe I will always be in need of repentance. The moment I think less of a person just because they are different than me is yet another opportunity for me to hear my own mission statement calling me back to a God’s eye view of every human. But the passion that Sarah helped me unearth is blossoming unto fruitfulness for me and with others God places before me.

That’s the backstory to what I have found so upsetting in the midst of this pandemic. I have been shocked at how easily others have dismissed the sacredness of human life. I have heard or read countless dismissals of the 100,000 people who have died in our country alone. They “were on their last legs” anyway. They were elderly. They had preexisting conditions. As if any of these factors could somehow lessen the tragedy of a life prematurely snuffed out.

Do people dying in nursing homes isolated from their families matter less because they were no longer “productive” members of society? Do their survivors mourn them less because they didn’t have long to live anyway? My maternal grandparents are both still living. When my grandpa turns ninety in June, they will both have arrived in their nineties. I know that I won’t have them much longer. Whenever they die, I will mourn them deeply, because I love them. If they happened to get COVID and die even sooner, I would advise you to stay away from me with “well, they were elderly anyway” garbage.

Another disparity has been the reality that this virus has impacted minorities at a disproportionate rate. The virus itself does not regard race or any other human distinction, but communities with greater poverty tend to have greater health risks with less access to healthcare. And then during this time, we have had the reprehensible stories of the slayings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and now, George Floyd.

George Floyd Murder: Twitter Left 'Disgusted' as Video of 3 Cops ...
Photo Credit: India.com

The killings are the worst, of course. But then there are stories like a white woman lying to a 911 operator that an African American man was threatening her, a black delivery driver detained in a predominantly white neighborhood–for no apparent good reason–and I am sure a host of others that I’ve either forgotten or didn’t make the national radar.

It is past time for white people like me to listen to what black people and other minorities are saying about what it is like to be a person of color in this nation. But the distressing truth is that most people don’t have the appetite for it. They will excuse, justify, and deny the real problem of racism and white privilege in this country. They will be more passionate and angry over protests that draw attention to the problem than people dying for no good reason other than the color of their skin.

Or maybe we can talk about those kids separated from their parents at our border. I’ve actually read where a Christian brother suggested the kids deserved what happened to them because their parents were criminals. I wonder if that same brother is so readily willing to call his fellow citizens criminals who broke the law when they ignored shut-down orders to open up their businesses. But they were desperate, you say? They had to feed their family, you say? Right. But struggling families trying to flee dangerous situations from other countries are the real criminals?

This is a blog for those who struggle with chronic pain, and as I mentioned above, those who have preexisting conditions are being spoken about as if their lives are less valuable because they are physically compromised. But it is also part of a larger human problem.

Either you believe that God has created everyone in his image or not. You don’t get to choose by race, health, or immigrant status. You can’t wave a flag for the unborn and dehumanize the immigrant, the disabled, or people of color. My mission is and remains “to acknowledge the stardom of every person’s life.” It is also my lifelong challenge. Will you join me?

Posted in Ethics, Imago Dei | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

My Review of Walking By Faith

Chronic Illness: Walking by Faith by Esther Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I was invited to read an advanced copy of this book, and this work is so needed in the chronically ill community. It is written for Christians, who have an invested interest in pursuing discipleship even in the midst of chronic pain/illness.

The book is grounded in solid theological reflection on relevant scriptural texts that are grouped together by large themes. One of the best things about the book is how grace-centered and empathetic it is without giving in to our inclination for self-pity and false identity (i.e. my disease is the most important thing about me).

I felt understood by the author, but also encouraged and even inspired to a deeper walk with God. It could be read several times a year, and the reader would identify with it (and the individual devotionals) differently each time depending on his/her current struggle.

There are also helpful reflection questions and suggested actions that are not overwhelming at the end of each day. I definitely intend to read it again and will encourage others with similar struggles to get Esther’s book. It is a much needed breath of fresh air targeted for an often neglected demographic.

See more about Esther’s ministry on her website: https://www.lifeinslowmotionblog.com/


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