Very good post, 4EverHis. This “sharing the Cross” is something many Protestants don’t learn that much about, in general. It is a strong emphasis in Catholicism, but something that in my experience tends to be largely misunderstood and/or ignored and deemphasized outside of Catholicism. Non-Catholics don’t tend to see the value of suffering as Catholics have, and as the Catholic Church does. God does use sickness to achieve His own glory. Just this morning I was reading from Isaiah how He would put a “wasting sickness” in the Assyrians (a brutal empire of the past) to bring Himself glory. When asked why a man was sick, Jesus said this was done so God’s glory might be revealed in his life. Which implies again that God can have a hand in using sickness to His glory.
It’s worth remembering that the Gospel of Luke was written by a doctor. In the Catholic Church, we did not strip the canon of the Bible of 7 books like the Protestant Reformers did, so we still have the Book of Sirach, which has a full chapter devoted to praising how God uses physicians and medical science. This doesn’t mean God doesn’t also heal through miracles at times, but it does mean there is absolutely no reason to turn away from medical science (unless it has failed), for He uses this to heal as well.
One of my uncles tried faith healing for 7 years, not using glasses because he was trusting God to heal his near-sightedness. People around him told him that the reason he wasn’t being healed for all that time was because he lacked sufficient faith, but he kept waiting in hope until finally he gave up.
The mother of a friend of mine trusted in faith healing for her eyes throughout the last probably ten years of her life. She died without ever receiving back her sight.
I’ve heard of parents who refused to provide medical attention to their sick children because they were trusting in faith healing, in God alone to provide the healing, and the sick children died because of illnesses a doctor could easily have cured.
On the other hand, my grandmother has had experiences with faith healing and trusts in it, and she’s hale and healthy into her old age when all other people in her senior home are on prescription drugs and using walkers to get around. Also, this grandmother has witnessed great miracles performed through faith healing, such as people with disorders of having mismatched leg lengths have one leg grow to match the length of the other, or one leg shrink to match the other’s size. So she’s seen and been through a lot and relies on faith healing. Though I believe in the last year she’s started to consider medical help.
I had a period in my life for about five or six years where I never got sick at all, but I think this was because I wasn’t in contact with many people that would pass on germs. The Lord is in charge of all I experience in life and I seek to accept whatever He gives me, so of course He’s responsible for my having been well that long, but I don’t think this was a supernatural miracle. I’m not saying He isn’t protecting your health. I don’t know if He is or not. I’m just saying the fact that you haven’t been sick for two years isn’t necessarily proof that faith healing is at work, though certainly it might be. And whether it is or not, you can rightly thank God :).
I’ve tried faith healing before for myself, and in my experience, God has given it to me when I need it, especially when it would be useful to His Body. For instance, there was a time when I was responsible for speaking at a youth group and had a severe cold, so I prayed and the Lord healed me immediately so that I could do His work. And for several days He cured my allergies while I was at Mass, so that the faithful could pray and meditate in peace. However, after that initial period of grace (which He granted me on my request), it dawned on me that there was a lot I could do to control my noise level on my own, and since then He’s allowed me to experience the allergies again. The reason I asked Him for that grace in the first place, which is that the faithful may experience God in peace, is still fulfilled.
On other occasions, when it would simply be a convenience to me to have the healing but wouldn’t bless His Body in any way, He allows me to just have the cold or flu. I don’t pray for healing much at all anymore, because I’ve increasingly come to see the value of offering any sufferings I receive up to God. I am more blessed when I am sick than when I am healthy.
United with His Sacrifice on the Cross, illness can achieve the same merits that fasting does (and I do all through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for maximum impact), healing other people through my sufferings, especially their souls, which is far more important than whatever God sees fit to happen to my body.
Fasting is built on this very idea, the idea that through our willingness to suffer for others’ sake, God may unleash great graces upon Earth.