A Woman’s Lament The tragedy and comedy of hypochondria
Okay, so I’m a bit of a hypochondriac, but it’s only because I’m sick all of the time. In my short life I’ve suffered from chronic fatigue, irritable bowl, indigestion, severe PMS, psoriasis, gluten-intolerance, candida, headaches, and more. I won’t bore you, unless your name is ‘my husband.’ But I digress. So lately I’ve gotten tired of the continual complaints that roll around in my head. I’m sick of being more obsessed with my health than with my God. And so when I started reading Lamentations 3 a few months ago I found I identified with the writer more than I realized. (If you haven’t read Lamentations 3 lately then I encourage you to give it a look before you read any further, cuz then my lamentation will make much more sense.) His references to grinding his teeth on gravel and cowering in the ashes, to wormwood and gall didn’t make much sense to me until I replaced his suffering with my own, then suddenly I understood and related.
James 1:2 says that suffering should be considered joy. What? Who suffers and says, “LOVE THIS!?” Not me, that’s who! I’m more of a complainer. Complaining feels like action to me, so maybe that’s why this Lament connected with me so much. It’s a chance for all the complaints to get out there.
So without further ado, I present to you Lamentation 3 (edited and abridged).
Lamentations 3 for hypochondriacs
I am the woman who has seen continual suffering under the finger of my God; he has repeatedly left me to search on my own for a cure; surely against me he turns his hand again and again the whole day long.
He has made my thyroid and my immune system waste away; he has brought aches to my bones; he has oppressed and enveloped me with low libido, headaches and irritable bowel; he has left me with chronic fatigue like the dead of long ago.
He has made every elixir, every oil, every remedy fail; he has made my burden heavy; though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer; he has blocked my ways with multiple symptoms and no expert to cure me; he has made my hair brittle, my muscles cramped and my nerves weak.
He is a parasite lying in wait for me, a yeast infection in hiding; he has made my enzymes powerless and liver weak; he has made me untreatable; He released Ebola and made me a target for its attack.
He has made my teeth grind on genetically modified organisms, and made me pay more for organic; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “Nothing is working; not even my prayers.”
Remember my ulcers and my gluten intolerance, the flatulence and the psoriasis! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him over saliva tests. It is good that one should wait quietly for the healing of the Lord. It is good for a woman that she suffer without complaint.
The mass producers open their wallets against us; panic and danger have come upon us, isolation and rejection; my eyes flow with rivers of tears because of the destruction of the daughters of my people.
You have seen all the ravages, all their waxed fruit and hormone injected meat. You have heard their lies, O Lord, all their plots against healthy eating. The lips and thoughts of the corn and sugar producers are against me all the day long. Look at their corn syrup and their evaporated cane juice; I am the object of their deception.
But you will repay them, O Lord, according to the work of their hands. You will give them dullness of heart; your curse will be on them. You will pursue them in anger and destroy them from under your heavens, O Lord.” (Based on, Lamentations 3)
I hope these words made you laugh. If you are an occasionally self-aware hypochondriac like me, then I’m sure they have. I don’t blame God for all of my imagined or real suffering, but I do want to see them all through the light of his presence. And maybe this year I won’t complain so much as I remember that He works out all things for the good of those who love him, even my gluten-intolerence.