Setbacks are hard. Post-COVID has been annoying, with one day being good and the next being bad. For instance, Sunday was great. I experienced a bountiful amount energy I hadn’t had for weeks. Mentally, I was clear. And lastly, I experienced little to no residual pain. In fact, I was damn well ready to call COVID a day, “I am so done with this. Good riddance.” Then Tuesday arrived.

I awoke uncomfortable. I felt physically weak. This sled me to being spiritually bereft. My existence at work was just that, ‘existence.’ So much so that I questioned how I could have been inspirational to anyone. Striding into to the hospital chapel, I kneeled. “God? If I must accept setbacks, then you already know my hidden symptoms. As you know God, I laid on the ground but found myself too weak to push myself up. Thankfully, someone came along and assisted my in getting upright. My legs have tremors when bending over and last week, I experienced a fifteen minute period when I could not swallow. I always said I would never bug you too much about my health, for there are so many others significantly worse than I. Also, I kind of thought that if you wanted to remove this burden, you would have done by now. But if you would allow me the ability to be unwearable, I would appreciate it.” I got zip. Nada. Nutt’n.

Everyone with rare rare diseases knows the routine of explaining one’s condition. For someone like me, explaining Parkinson’s, a tumor, and osteoarthritis will glaze the eyes of most. For such folks, check out occurs just after Parkinson’s and just midway through the work tumor. After that, osteoarthritis is rarely heard. Sometimes I simply joke, “I have hip dysplasia, so that disqualifies me from the Westminster dog show.” Still, through all the jokes, I openly wonder out loud to God, “Where the hell are you when it hurts?”

The question alone reminds me of Phillip Yancey’s book by a similar title. An argument proposed by Yancey is that God wants us to cleave to him, as Job did, even when we have every reason to deny Him. The other comment is that in Gethsemane, Jesus pled desperately for an escape. And when he received none, He willingly underwent the suffering. Maybe, in his own way, Jesus left the hard questions to God and trusted God. However, when one is deep in life’s pits, it’s hard to trust.

As of late, I am battered by fatigue. And it’s within this daily barrage that I fear I’ll lose sight of how God has blessed me. Deep down, I know the current battle is lost. Physical death will be the only victor. Like so many others, I am just trying stay alive in the batter’s box, that the best achievement is one where the batter continually ‘fouls off’ pitch after pitch.

Throughout all my questions, God has remained stoically silent on ‘why.’ Sometimes, God and I have a weird back and forth that can be both funny and maddening.

“Trust me,” God exclaimes.

“What? Seriously?” I snicker.

“Yeah. Trust Me.”

“F*** me.”

“I don’t do that.”

So, yeah, the answer is there, but it’s not quite as detailed as preferred. “Why me? Not Others?” Don’t know. I am clueless. I have witnessed the deepest levels of human caring. “And, why can’t others exhibit the same level of humanity?” Hard to say. As such, each experience humbles me and compels me to become better. I experienced great love and suffered deeply from the loss. “Why did I suffer so greatly?

In the past several months, I’ve sometimes looked at God and said, Fuck hope! For someone in chronic pain, it’s heresy, especially for those who believe hope and God as one. Prior to her death, blogger Julie Williams noted, “Hope and fear are two sides of the same coin. When there are expectations, dreams and hopes, fear always tags along, fear that the hopes will never be realized, fear that the heart will be broken, fear that death is close at hand.”

Regardless of all the setbacks, I know I will eventually die from my ailments. Maybe not this year. Maybe not next year. However, ‘eventually,’ is my destination. Yet, through it all, God has always … always … always made time for me. And I presume He does the same for you.