Anyone can feel despair and hope for someone who is suffering from chronic illness. It is much more for the sick person who experiences all sorts of feelings from despair, emotional and physical pain, frustration, and loneliness to hope, acceptance, patience, and perseverance.
There are stories of children and adults, who despite their illness, find themselves smiling and being patient in suffering. It is pathetic and unimaginable to see such people have the guts to rise above suffering. Suffering without grumbling or complaining is, indeed, personal heroism, taking after Christ who suffered in silence. God, knowing the finiteness of man, has given this extraordinary grace to turn suffering into a blessing. It is the acceptance on the part of the sick person that God’s blessing is manifested.
The sick is able to call on the Healer for healing and offering his suffering for a spiritual purpose, his own purification, and salvation. He finds meaning in suffering because he accepted it, especially when there is no hope of a cure, even after a series of treatments. He awaits his death with joyful hope that all pain will be gone and he will be eternally blissful in the next life.
Acceptance means submitting to God’s will. It is not surrendering to despair or hopelessness. It does not mean giving up on the will to live. It is living in the midst of suffering knowing that he is loved by God, although he may not understand His ways of loving. Suffering has become an opportunity for him to have a foretaste of heavenly happiness. He may suffer but find himself transformed into a new being, refined and purified. This entails, of course, extraordinary faith and humility. One may be helpless and, yet, finding strength from a force beyond himself.
The process of acceptance depends on how well rooted a person is in his spiritual life. For a person without a strong faith foundation, acceptance is a no-no. He would be bitter and blaming everybody for his suffering. He would be grieving and lamenting for lost time and dreams. He would be afraid to meet his fate. It is not so with the one who has resigned himself to the outcome of his suffering.
With his acceptance of the seeming loss of all life’s material offers and opportunities, he turns the loss into a rewarding experience. He may go out of his way and inspire other sick people to have the strength to go on living until the time when life is snuffed out. He does not mope or become a burden to his carers. He is fired with the enthusiasm to move forward, to hope and to dream.
When healing is experienced, then his life becomes more meaningful. He now can turn his new life around, gaining back the momentum, but this time life is to be lived differently than before. He can pursue advocacies that will support the sick and the dying. He can live his life with a new meaning and purpose.