A recent doctor’s visit launched my family into an unexpected whirlwind of questions. Further testing is necessary, but we are very likely looking at a life-long disease for my twin sons. These first-born of mine—ambitious, fine young men in their prime—are now wondering if life as we know it will cease. What will the disease look like in a year? What if there’s already irreparable damage to the heart? What if their life will be cut short? I have no answers.
Ignatius of Loyola was a vivacious, determined soldier who had his sights set on winning fame and honor. He was far from God until his leg was shattered in battle and, along with it, his dreams. He endured the excruciating procedure of re-breaking and re-setting his leg because he was vain and did not want to face life with physical imperfection. Inevitably, however, he was left with both a limp and wounded pride. As he convalesced, God won his heart and set him on fire. He became as ambitious for winning souls as he once was for winning battles. His affliction was the catalyst God used to transform Ignatius into a saint.
In my own life, I’ve seen God bring good out of the sufferings I have endured. Therefore, I’m certain it would be easier for me to surrender to God’s will if I was the one infirm, but looking into the worried eyes of my boys is heavy. How can a mother prepare her child for the grief of shattered dreams or the uncertainty of illness? St. Ignatius’ story inspires me to have hope and faith. Had Ignatius’ mother known the end result, would she have feared? Would she have tried to protect him from the pain? Let us, then, be not afraid! In sickness and in health, we can trust our God completely because his ways are above ours, and his plan is for our eternal good and for that of our children, for sainthood.