Hope For The Chronically Ill
Last week we shared the story of Janice Campbell-Paul’s descent into disability and the resulting isolation and rejection that she encountered. Today we are continuing with another excerpt from her book “The Secret Wife.” Jesus is a wonderful savior and we are so thankful for the hope He offers to those who are lonely and suffering!
… every day that I went out into the world I was keenly aware of those who helped me, who noticed my struggles and reached out, without me having to ask. I was grateful on each occasion and sometimes surprised.
I was also surprised at the negative reactions, the judgmental stares, as if, somehow, I was guilty of some terrible sin to be in a wheelchair, the ‘how dare you appear before me and upset my day’ sort of look.
The worst experience happened one day in the local grocery store. I wanted something in the deli section and it was one of those delis where you had to take a ticket with a number and wait for your number to be called. Unfortunately, the ticket machine was too high for me to reach. There was a woman standing there and I asked her if she would please get a ticket for me. She looked down at me in anger. ‘You people make me sick!’ she said. ‘Why don’t you just stay home and quit depending on normal people to help you all the time. You are leeches on society!’ I was too shocked to reply to her, but a man standing nearby suddenly came between us, grabbed me a ticket and said loudly. ‘Some people just like being assholes all the time!’ He winked at me as he gave me my ticket with a broad smile, and stayed by my side until the woman got what she needed and left.
‘I was in a car accident a few years back,’ he explained. ‘I had to be in a wheelchair for six months. I’m glad you’re not too prideful to ask for help like I was.’ He talked with me until my order came, gave it to me, and then said goodbye. I thanked him as he walked away, and thanked God for bringing that man into my day.
There was another experience in that same grocery store that baffles me to this day. I had driven myself to the store in my car because I had to do some big shopping that my little wheelchair couldn’t handle. This was always difficult because getting into my car and driving was excruciating, even with an automatic gear shift, and I had to walk with my crutches into the store. Once inside the store, there were electric shopping carts I could use, but I had to leave my crutches with an attendant while I shopped. But the pouches that my wheelchair was fitted with couldn’t hold much, so I had no choice but to use the car whenever I had any heavy shopping to do.
I gritted my teeth in pain as I got into the electric cart, wishing that someone could do the shopping for me. I was feeling a little lonely and sorry for myself. I worked my way up and down the aisles. With each item, I had to get out of the electric cart and take it down from the shelf. This meant getting up and down several times, increasing my pain levels to a maximum. Almost on the verge of tears, I prayed silently, ‘Lord, give me the strength to finish this task.’
I had just turned the corner and entered into the pet food aisle when I saw a little old woman coming around the corner at the other end of the aisle. She was talking to herself. ‘Yes, yes, don’t you think I know this?’ she said, as she shuffled towards me and stopped. She put her hand on my shoulder and said with a gentle smile on her face, ‘God has sent me here to tell you that He loves you very much and He has heard your prayers.’ She then straightened herself up and left before I could say a word.
My immediate reaction was that the lady was probably senile and was going around the store blessing people. But after she left, I realized that my pain was gone. I felt refreshed! I immediately went looking for the lady. I knew she couldn’t have gone too far. I wanted to ask her questions, to thank her for her message. I raced up and down the aisles as fast as the electric cart would go, looking everywhere, asking people if they had seen her. But she was nowhere. No one else had seen her. Had I gone mad? It all happened so fast, could I have imagined it? No, she did touch me and somehow my pain was gone, my energy level was so much better. I felt sure that I had had an angel encounter of the third kind, right in the middle of the pet food aisle.
But the loneliness still enveloped me as the days turned into months. The disease controlled every aspect of my life, with pain, fatigue, or shaking.
Some days I would wake up feeling good. I would make plans to get out of the house, but by the time I was showered and dressed (a major physical effort), I was too exhausted to go anywhere and crawled back into bed. Sometimes I slept for days.
I was completely alone, except for my nurses from the Catholic Social Services who came twice a week to help me around the house, and Varun, my online friend.
The story of Janice’s supermarket “angel” encounter is a great encouragement for those who are stepping out in everyday situations to minister to others. Keep going!
Janice bought a computer and met Varun, a young man from India, in an online chat room. She also began to develop a relationship with God and encounter his love. Then she started having visions of herself in India.
At one point, she tried to kill herself because of the pain, but her trembling hands dropped the razor blade in the drain. One Sunday during worship, she felt a tingling in her feet. She thought it was just another symptom. But it spread up her legs and a voice told her “Stand up and walk.” And she did!
Even the church where Janice was healed rejected her missionary call and shunned her. But she soon moved to India to share her story and marry a man whose culture would not accept their love. They eventually fled the country to escape an “honor killing.”
If you’d like to contact Janice, here is the link to her Facebook author page:
For the rest of her inspiring story, you can purchase the Kindle or print version of her book “The Secret Wife” by clicking below. (If you’re seeing the email you won’t see the links, but they are on the blog.)