Lately I've been thinking about the theology of chronic illness; that is, the spiritual side of chronic mental and/or physical illnesses.
Two years ago I married someone who has lived with a (non life-threatening, noncommunicable) chronic physical illness for about a decade now. In many ways we're very fortunate: Drew has a mild form of this disease, he's able to work full-time, and so far his condition hasn't worsened over time. But we still live with restrictions on how much Drew is able to do over the course of a day; some days or weeks there's only enough energy for him to go to work. Other days or weeks are better, of course, although we don't know today how he'll feel tomorrow or the day after tomorrow or next week.
When I was a kid my mom struggled with the spiritual ramifications of her using her asthma medication; for a time she believed that doing so would prove her lack of faith in God, that if she managed to acquire enough faith she would be healed. It never happened and she's since moved on from that belief. Years later, someone who shared similar beliefs told me that I'd be cured of a fairly serious (though not life-threatening) allergy I have if I had enough faith. I didn't believe him, but that conversation has aroused some questions that I still grapple with in my mind.
I don't wonder why people develop chronic illnesses, but I do wonder what our response to the issues surrounding chronic illness should be as Christians. While I believe that God can and does heal, it has been my experience that most of the time humans are left to muddle through both mental and physical illness without divine intervention in the matter. It seems to be a luck of the draw more than anything else.
I'm particularly curious to hear from anyone who has personal experience with this issue, although of course all comments will be appreciated . :)
Labels: Church, Emerging Church, Theology