Norman Cousins (1915-1990), longtime editor of Saturday Review as well as an American political journalist, author and professor, once was hospitalized for a debilitating form of arthritis. Finding that the hospital environment seemed designed to immobilize both his body and his spirit, Mr. Cousins took steps to gain control over his destiny and restore his will to live. For example, he posted a sign on his door limiting blood draws to one every 3 days; and he scheduled time every day to watch old comedy films by artists like the Marx Brothers. He found that every 10 minutes of belly-laughs gave him 2 hours of pain-free sleep.
However, the first thing Norman Cousins did was to identify the obstacles facing him, ,which he delineated in his book Anatomy of an Illness (pages 153-154), cited by Phillip Yancey in Where is God When It Hurts?. Many of Mr. Cousins’ obstacles are equally applicable to ministry downsizing or position loss:
1. There was first of all a feeling of helplessness.
2. There was the desire not to add to the already great burden of apprehension felt by one’s family; this added to the isolation.
3. There was conflict between the terror of loneliness and the desire to be left alone.
4. There was the lack of self-esteem, the subconscious feeling that our illness was a manifestation of our inadequacy.
Just as Norman Cousins directed his energy to his response rather than the cause of his illness, we begin to heal when we respond to Jesus, who is with us in and through our suffering.