Faithfully Yours - Their silent war


Neil Strohschein
Neepawa Banner & Press

We’ve celebrated another anniversary in our home. As I write these words, it’s 12 years since my wife had the stroke that nearly took her life. She is a survivor. Her story has inspired many others to believe that they can recover from similar setbacks (physical or emotional) in their own lives. But this column isn’t about us. It’s about the many others in this paper’s coverage area who are battling chronic illness. You might be one of them; or you probably know someone who is.

Some are recovering from a stroke, heart attack or have recently, after several months of treatment, been declared cancer free. Others are adapting to a recent diagnosis of diabetes, one of many forms of lung disease, kidney problems or difficulties with their eyes. Others have seen little relief from the arthritic pain, sciatica or headaches they have battled for years.

Theirs is a silent war. They don’t talk about it all that much. They try not to burden others with their problems—after all, most of the people they know are facing similar or worse challenges.

These valiant people know that little is to be gained from talking excessively about the pain, discomfort or inconveniences they experience. They are focused on one thing—getting better—getting their symptoms under control and ultimately getting rid of them (and the disease that has caused them) altogether. They refuse to give up. They refuse to quit fighting; and they refuse to listen to the perfectly healthy people who tell them to accept this suffering as their lot in life.

What they need—what we all need when facing life’s challenges—are allies in the fight. Not advisors—allies—people who will come alongside, take their hands and walk with them on the road to recovery. They need people who will weep with them when the pain drives them to tears, people who will let them vent their anger and frustration when they feel like doing so, people who will do for them “only” what they cannot do for themselves and people who will laugh with them at some of the hilarious things they may say or do. Those people are worth their weight in gold—just ask anyone who is fortunate to have such people in their lives.

But they are hard to find. So, as this new year begins, may I offer the following suggestion. If every person who reads this column would become an ally to just one person who is fighting a silent war, we could become the agents of radical change in our communities.

But, before you all run out and look for someone upon whom to inflict yourselves, you must read and accept the following condition. You must first seek God’s guidance and then go to the one person he brings across your path. Otherwise, little if any good will be achieved by what you do.

You see, God must be allowed to put these alliances together. He knows everything there is to know about every person on this earth. He knows the deep inner needs of those who are fighting a silent war with disease or discomfort. He knows those who are best equipped to help those who are hurting. And, most importantly, he knows which of those who are qualified to help will still be there, years later, making sure that those who suffer no longer have to suffer in silence.

Of all the gifts we could give at this time of year, no gift would be greater than this.