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The Lord Loves Us in Our Weaknesses

For 7 years, I have lived with a chronic medical condition called bile reflux disease. My gall bladder stopped working, and I had it removed in 2017. Unlike many people who have their gall bladder removed, my issues worsened rather than getting better. The medications I take aren’t working very well, and I haven’t always been strict enough with my diet, although diet doesn’t seem to fix it either. This has caused chronic, debilitatingly, painful gastritis, esophagitis, and a severe motility disorder.

The bile is destroying the tissue of my esophagus, and I now have a pre-cancerous condition known as Barrett’s. For someone with bile reflux—not acid reflux—and a severe motility disorder, I am at high risk for esophageal cancer—an extremely deadly form of cancer and a horrific way to die. My priest-cousin watched two priests he knew die from it within a few short months of each other and described some of their last days to me a few years ago.

I live with this hanging over me. I do not know if the severe pain I am in is a sign that my illness has progressed to cancer because esophageal cancer is a silent killer. Every year I go in for an endoscopy so the doctor can monitor me and try to catch it as quickly as possible should cancer develop. This year the Lord led me to confront the very real terror I carry every year before this test.

Last week, before my endoscopy, I became paralyzed by fear, frustration, anger, and a desire to flee into worldly pleasures to avoid my suffering. I watched television to keep my mind preoccupied. I pushed the Lord away, and the deep-seated fears from years of repeated suffering came roaring to the surface. All of this was building up to encountering the Lord in a deeper way.

During Holy Week each year, we witness the weaknesses of various people throughout Our Lord’s Passion. These narratives we relive every year should not be distant texts far removed from our own experiences. Instead, they are an invitation to see our own weaknesses. As one example, it is easy to judge the weakness of St. Peter in his arrogance at the Last Supper when he claims he will never deny the Lord. Every single one of us says this until some major tragedy strikes. St. Peter fails in Our Lord’s greatest hour of need, and if we are humble enough to acknowledge it, so do we when suffering or challenges arise.

I felt like St. Peter during the Passion leading up to my endoscopy. I ran away—but still stayed within view of the Lord—to warm myself by the charcoal fire. I didn’t want to be out in the cold in my fear and in the face of my own crucifixion. I didn’t want to surrender all of my terror to Him. I realized all of this when I did finally bring it back to Him at Adoration, Confession, Mass, and Anointing of the Sick the night before my procedure.

Read more at Catholic Exchange 

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