Friday? Is that you?
A miserable cold has struck some various members of my household. The big kids are complaining about their terribly unfair lives. The little girls are moping around, appalled that their noses are running and yet I still want them to make some vague effort in the direction of their own academic careers. I finally gave up yesterday, when they stared back at me from limpid pools of their pathetic streaming eyes, unable to remember the sound of any letter or the value of any number. And I, I lay back in my own chair and took a big fat ibuprofen to relieve the throbbing of my own temple. Did I sin, I wonder, or was it my parents?
Probably not my parents. They arrived in abundant good humor and immediately took over the conundrum of luncheon and there not being enough milk, ever. Their cheerful good health is alarming to me, and obviously the sign of God’s benedictant good favor toward them. Clearly it is I who have sinned, and not they.
Though what I have done I cannot imagine. I have wracked my brain trying to think in what manner I might have offended God to deserve such a cold, and all I can do is enumerate to myself the sage good works and charitable acts that are unimpeachably the substance of my very self. I washed all the dishes by hand, for example, when the dishwasher refused to drain. I did the laundry of the child who brought it down but didn’t bother to put it into the actual machine. I ran the vacuum instead of screaming like a lunatic. I ushered children through their lessons with calm good grace. When one child failed a science test I responded with good humored Ecclesiastesesque wisdom instead of cataloguing the life of failure most assuredly the lot of every minor failure. I Am Good and Not Evil was the direction of my inner discourse as I stumbled along through the inexorable progress of this illness.
Which led me, of course, to wonder if perhaps it is God Himself who is so wrong. Clearly I am the good one, and yet I suffer so poorly. Perhaps it is God who is evil. He isn’t, for one, noticing my afflictions or doing anything about them. And, in some sense, I feel he can be blamed for not halting the inevitable progression of germs through a house this size. He must not love me because he is not making me well or happy at this critical moment and therefore, he must not be good. Because who could not love one so lovable as I?
Perhaps, then, I have misconstrued the very nature of God. Maybe God is waiting in a corner for me to discover some special spiritual device that will unlock the healing I so obviously deserve and which must be in his gift to grant, if only I aligned myself with his beneficent good will, and properly divined his whispering voice. Perhaps there is some incantation I could say, or some scripture, when spoken in the right tone and spirit, that will unlock my deserved and rightful healing. God may not be bad, but perhaps he is not very strong, or is in some way limited by the mighty faith which must certainly be found on the recesses of my person if I search hard enough through all my Kleenex stuffed pockets.
Or maybe God isn’t even there. Maybe God is a construct of my own imagination, who, though of course I blame him for everything, and, in some perverse way still expect him to do me good, though, as I said, he does not exist, if I exert my mind and will over the categories of time and space, which, as I said, are not in anyway affected by any imaginary divinity, I may conjure up health from the universe, or the earth, which, though I am acting like it itself is a godlike personality, who can be hurt in some way by me, though by me I really mean others, like you, is nevertheless without feelings, except those feelings that I impart to it, which are really my own, but if I honor it with my good feelings and not my bad ones, which of course can’t be bad, because I am good and all my feelings are good, I will be healed.
The one thing that must not be true, beyond any shadow or shade of doubt, is that I, an ordinary creature, might fall sick as a result of the general state of sin which has broken the universe and myself beyond any human capacity for repair. And, though my body suffers and, worse, my mind, when I cry out to the creator of the universe, he will save me by his very own self by coming to stand in the place of my dying flesh and take on himself the penalty due to me by my own sinful actions and inclinations. And that, lest I cease to trust him in the smallest and most mundane circumstances, he afflicts me with the providence of tribulation, by letting me gently fail myself and others, so that I am always turning back in repentant hope, to be forgiven from true sin, and comforted in every small evil by the goodness of an abundant though troubling mercy. That must not be what’s happening here. Where’s my blessing? Someone get me some NyQuil.
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