I have even found myself relating on a whole new level to those who have suffered various kinds of deep heartache or loss, but there is a unique bond with those who have endured great physical suffering. They just get it.
Consequently, I often find it a struggle to relate (on a significant level) with those who have not experienced chronic illness or intense suffering of some sort. And it is often with these people that my cynicism is unleashed.
Someone at church complains of a headache and I think, “please! Take some ibuprofen and suck it up!” A family member has the flu and says they don’t think they can take one more minute of it. “Waaaah, try enduring pain every day for almost 4 years!” Someone says they’re so tired and I think “at least you can physically sit down and rest without feeling like a knife is stabbing you while you are on fire!”
If you struggle with chronic illness, you know what I’m talking about, and even if you don’t I’m sure you have your own cynical moments. It may not even be health related as I can quickly become cynical when I hear about someone’s vacation plans, another pregnancy, a new job, or basically anything else that someone has and I want.
This weekend my husband came down with a stomach virus –a gift from our daughter’s preschool most likely. (How I managed to be vomited on and clean up diarrhea multiple times and not get sick—yet—is a miracle!) My husband is very rarely sick and hardly ever complains when he is, but I found myself getting easily irritated with him. He serves me exceedingly well every day, but one day in bed and a couple little complaints and I felt cynical towards him.
We often feel our cynicism is justified because we are worse off than someone else. But the truth is there will always be someone in the world whose plight is worse. There’s only One who deserves to be cynical towards us, but He isn’t. Instead, God lavishes grace upon grace to us. How much more should we show grace to others?
My friends and family who have never experienced chronic pain can’t understand what life is like for me, and I don’t really want them to —well maybe some days I do, but that’s another post for another day! I sure couldn’t empathize with others’ chronic suffering before pain became my constant companion so why should I expect others to be able to empathize with me all the time? Even if someone has the exact same pain or diagnosis they cannot truly know what it is like to live one day in our body.
But thankfully, Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses and even though He is without sin, He is never cynical towards us. Oh how we need Him to battle the sin of cynicism and help us give grace to others!
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16