(part of what is turning out to be an ongoing series)
Another thing that helps me “deal with” seeing so many people suffering is realising that they, in fact, are offering a great service to our society, and in particular to me. They may not realise they are doing so, of course, and they certainly didn’t elect to be offering this service, but they are.
What service is this? Is is the ministry of helplessness. As I said to one patient today, who was wondering how her life could have meaning given her disability, “sometimes the way we are called to serve is in letting ourselves be served”. It helped her (in fact, she wrote it down), and it helped me, too. Ever have words out of your mouth that surprised even you, but in a good way? It was one of those moments.
Reflecting on this moment, I see even more clearly that when I ministry to a sick person, in fact I am touching Jesus, as he identified himself with the sick and suffering. Since I happen to love Jesus, seeing Him in the sick is a great blessing for me. In their illness they are giving me (and others) the chance to love God and neighbour, which I find (obviously) to be of great spiritual benefit.
Do I want the sick to be sick? Of course not. But when it is possible to see past to the sick person to the One who cried out “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” it is in fact a great consolation. Something beautiful is happening for God in such moments.