Longcamp: Good health and our fallen nature
Ryan Summerlin September 3, 2013
Jeffery Bergeron’s uplifting column in Sunday’s SDN made many good points. Specifically, I found it refreshing to hear someone expound on the positive side of what we often consider to be misfortune and handicaps. As a former pediatrician who retired in the last millennium, I can attest to how children and adults with such conditions as Down syndrome, and my former patients in particular, did seem to focus on the simple but important things in life without being burdened with the weighty complexities we have inflicted on ourselves. None of the families I served, in spite of the extra attention and care required of them, saw these children as burdens but as sources of cheerful happiness and love.
From the vantage of my second career, that of Vicar of St. Dunstan’s Anglican Church in Dillon, I would question whether it is accurate to assume, as we are wont to do in today’s secular society, that “a heavenly entity” would “burden the innocent.” Some with psychological and physical problems say, “God made me this way.” However, the Judeo-Christian understanding is that God created an ideal world in which mankind was without the physical or psychological problems that became mankind’s lot only after the human race, using what free will they had been given, rebelled and defiantly asserted full independence from God. The Judeo-Christian understanding, once more, is that God honored that assertion of free will but allowed the natural consequences of that behavior to fall on us.
Now we have physical and psychological infirmities, not caused by God, but permitted to occur as natural consequences. We have brought these infirmities upon ourselves, not directly, one-on-one, this affliction for that sin, but in general by our collective rebellion, and, yes, sin.
As mankind suffers the seemingly indiscriminate natural consequences of rebellion, God’s blessings, nevertheless, continue to flow. As Mr. Bergeron so aptly expressed it, he is able to respond first with sympathy, and then with gratitude for his blessing of health. If I may go a bit further than Mr. Bergeron: Since we all rebel against God to varying ways, and thus all are unworthy of perfect health, it is an expression of God’s love when we do enjoy good health, and even mental and physical infirmities can bring out compassion in others and can show us that the simplicities of life can be sufficient.
It is not the Judeo-Christian God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who “burden(s) the innocent.” If it were, those so burdened wouldn’t find joy in the simple things of life, and they wouldn’t bring out happy moments, like the one so beautifully described and shared. God brings joy in spite of the ugly consequences of our rebellion against him. Thanks, Jeffrey, for reminding us of the positive side.
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