It has never bothered me to serve an invisible God, one whom modern science cannot prove with any computer or test tube. Why should it? I live each day believing in so much else that I can't see--the earth's rotation and position in the universe, the very air my lungs pull in and push out, the electrical currents that run through black snakes overhead to bring man-made sunshine indoors.
With the naked eye, I can see none of this in the natural world; yet, I believe in it all without question because of what I witness firsthand in the cycle of day and night, in my breath on frost, in a downed power line's epileptic dance in fire. I also believe because of what I read and see in photographs secondhand.
To live even a secular life devoid of questions concerning the existence of a Creator, one must walk by a certain degree of faith.
The problem comes when I find myself called upon to prove the invisible. Many times, I can't. I can only offer up my own personal experiences, my knowledge gleaned from wafer thin pages or from the invisible information superhighway running right through my seemingly impenetrable walls.
It is then that the person has a choice--to accept what I say as truth or to question me, my motives, my conclusions...to treat me as wise or a loon, as trustworthy or as one with ulterior motives.
My children are still at the age where they accept mommy's version of truth. Adults? They are usually more hesitant to accept what they cannot see, especially if they have been burned by lies before.
Such has been my case over the past few months.
God has granted me an unrequested front-row seat to learn how poorly people are treated when they have health issues that are completely invisible, especially if the medication used to treat such an invisible malady is often abused.
I tried last fall to get help, went to a small satellite office located about a mile from my house, one used mostly by Medicaid patients. I had insurance and could have driven a half hour to the main office, but this was close and I was saddled with three children, so "why not."
An hour later, I called my husband almost in tears at how I had been treated like a drug addict looking for her next hit. The doctor had brushed off my concerns of increasing headaches, told me the only thing I'd get from a certain pain medication was a short trip to opium addiction. He gave me four pills for migraines. As expected, they didn't work. I didn't return. The only thing I gained was sympathy for those on government health care who must get this sort of treatment all the time.
Since January, the pain has been getting worse--the headaches, the wrist pain all stemming from an invisible shoulder nerve that has ached slowly down my right arm and, at times, shot like bursts of electricity out my fingers. I reached the point where I couldn't lift the milk carton, but still no one besides my husband knew. If a physician who had taken the Hippocratic Oath didn't believe me, who would?
Husband suggested I try another doctor. I did. After two solid weeks of waiting to be granted an appointment, I finally got the call, only to be told I'd need to wait another three weeks. Again--the tone was one of suspicion at the invisible.
The pain only increasing, my ability to sleep diminishing by the day, this time I did cry. Husband gave me another number, asked me to try a third doctor. This time, I wasn't automatically assumed to be a liar.
Last Tuesday, I went to see her. She listened, asked questions, and listened some more, concluding it was likely a pinched nerve and bursitis or arthritis. She didn't give me any pain medication, but she did take me seriously. Two days later, I lay in a tube twenty minutes for an MRI, stood for X-rays, looking for proof.
The x-ray showed no arthritis. But the MRI validated my words, showed what my physician believes is the cause of my invisible pinched nerve.
It's not fixable, and there's no telling the cause, but the inflammation causing the pain is treatable, manageable. One week after my first visit to see her, I'm starting physical therapy, something that should have happened months ago, if only a doctor would have seen through his preconceptions and believed in what he couldn't see.
What I'm learning through all this? Is a lesson in mercy.
Yes, I need to use Godly discernment in my interactions with others. Always. But just because the situation isn't neatly printed out in black and white or doesn't reflect my own experience isn't a reason to shut the door in someone's face even if others have been known to take advantage of generosity.
I would much rather err on the side of mercy and be called a fool than to err on the side of judgment and be called unmerciful.