I was approached by a teenager in a shopping centre the other day, boy who wanted to pray for me so I could be healed.
Now, I put that up there with "if you had enough faith, you'd be healed", or the non-religious version that says "a positive attitude, more exercise, etc, is all you need." What both the religious (and it's not just Christians, I have to say in defence of my own faith), and the non-religious versions are both basically saying is that if you're sick, it's your fault.
I don't buy into that. I told the kid I'd been a hospital chaplain for over a decade and was well aware that lots of people could be healed, and most often, God chose to work through doctors.
The kid said he knew doctors were great for people who didn't have faith. (He also told me he'd already cured one person, he prayed for her and then she could see without her glasses.)
Do you see something here that looks like waving a red flag in front of a bull?
No, I didn't rip the kid apart. I told him he could pray all he liked, but already knew the answer would be no. God's not a puppet, and if God really wanted to miraculously cure me, God could just do it.
Before I managed to ditch the kid, who hung on like a limpet, he did ask one sensible question: "Why would God say no?"
Actually, you've got to turn the question around a bit to make it sensible: "Why would God say yes?" Why would God create a complicated set of natural laws and then just throw them out the window for me? Well, God didn't, hasn't and won't. And if I had to be honest, that's fine by me. If God kept suspending the rules of nature here and there, for one person or another, can you imagine what the world would be like? Oh we'll just interrupt gravity so this person falling off a cliff won't get hurt. We'll run time backwards for a while in response to that person's prayer. We'll cancel all disease, and then there'll be no reason for people on this already-overcrowded planet to die.
Really, I like the laws of nature, just as designed. They work. (OK, climate change is showing us we can mess them up, but in that case it really is our fault. I'm pretty sure that verse in Genesis that gets translated as "subdue" the earth, meant "I'm putting humans in charge, you're responsible for this world," not "Go and destroy everything.")
For a healthy teenaged kid, being sick, old, or disabled must seem like the worst thing that could possibly happen. Of course the kid would have to have limited imagination and pay no attention whatsoever to the news.
Sure I have bad days. I can be in varying amounts of pain. I can go through varying amounts of fatigue. I can have scary bouts of confusion and forgetfulness.
But even with all of that, there are good things.
The best thing is I have lived long enough to see my children become adults, that's all I really asked for and hoped for. There's lots of amazing, incredibly strong, wonderful people all around the world I've come to know because we share this battle. And all of those people are well worth knowing. I have time to write, to sew, to do art, to drink coffee with friends, and play nonsense games with my granddaughter. I have a home that's perfect for my needs, and my family's needs. I have a doofy dog who makes me laugh, and a smoochy soft rag doll cat. When all else fails, I have quite a comfortable couch to sleep on in front of the TV and try to sleep off the worst of the fatigue.
And I have good days. On good days I can do absolutely anything, even tolerate a kid who thinks he can heal the sick in the marketplace.