Now that I’m an adult, people no longer tell me I should abide by this rule, yet I often find myself quoting this life rule to myself. Ever since I was diagnosed with lupus, I’ve had to sidestep off-handed, callous remarks about my health more times than I can count. To be honest, the way people respond to my illness has often surprised me. When I was first diagnosed with lupus, there were many things I knew I would have to learn to deal with, but people’s responses and remarks about my health was not one of them.
Although my tendency is to respond in an unkind way, God has taught me to look at a person’s intentions rather than judge him by his words. I’ve found that most of the time, people aren’t trying to be mean. They simply don’t know what to say. Still, knowing this doesn’t make the comments easier to hear. For me, God has had to teach me to lean on His love and support when I feel misunderstood.
In Philippians 2:1-2, Paul teaches us how to maintain the unity which should exist among Christians. In verse one, Paul says we if we have any encouragement in Christ, any consolation of love, any fellowship of the Spirit, and if any affection and compassion, then we can be united in spirit. As I studied verse one, I was surprised to learn what the phrase ”encouragement in Christ” means. The phrase Paul uses literally means that when we call out to God, He will come alongside of us and come to our aid. “Consolation of love” means we know the comfort of Christ’s love, and “fellowship of the Spirit” means sharer. So in Philippians 2:1-2, Paul is saying that when people hurt or offend us, we can respond in a manner worthy of God, because Christ understands what we’re experiencing. He comes alongside of us in our pain, He shares our hurt, and He comforts us with His love.
I don’t know about you, but it amazes me that not only does God care about my big problems, but He cares about the little ones as well. He cares about the pain caused by people’s flippant remarks. He cares about the emotional pain created by healthy individuals’ discomfort with sickness. He cares about everything in our lives, and He comes alongside of us and eases our pain. Because of this, we can invoke the sick person’s version of mama’s rule which says: “I will not respond to hurtful remarks regarding my health, my situation, the way I look, and what I am able to do. I will look at a person’s heart and intentions, and not judge them for what they say. I will be kind and loving. I will respond to others in a manner worthy of Christ, because Christ is worthy of my very best.”
Although the sick person’s version of mama’s rule isn’t always easy to live by, it is worth every effort made. Not only is God honored, but we are able to move beyond the hurt which was unknowingly inflicted. People living with a chronic illness have enough physical pain. Let’s not hold on to emotional pain. Choose to turn to Christ when others hurt you, and allow Him to comfort you with His love.
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8:38-39
(c) August 20, 2012