When we ask God for help with our earthly problems, we should be open to taking the help that He offers.
The problem I've always had is discerning which help is from God? I often think of the joke about the man who is stranded in a flood. He turns away three boat rides, because he believes God will save him. When he gets to heaven, he asks God why He didn't help, and God says, "What did you want? I sent three boats!"
You may remember that last Sunday we went to a Healing Service for Michael and he received the Sacrament of Anointing for his chronic eczema, asthma and allergies. On the way home, Michael asked if "it" would happen right away, and I explained that "it" would happen in God's time.
So, this past week, as a matter of coincidence, we had an appointment with his dermatologist for skin patch testing. Michael has had standard skin prick testing done at the allergist, but never anything specific for the skin, as it relates to his eczema. After a week, the doctor determined that while Michael is not allergic to much (on the outside), he is very allergic to nickel. O.k. I can deal with that, he won't wear jewelry, or be a banker. Well, I wish it were that simple.
The doctor informs me that nickel is in many foods we eat (didn't know that, did you?). And people with severe allergies to nickel (as in Michael) may react to nickel in food. Seems simple enough, I think, just eliminate the foods with nickel in them (what could they possibly be?). Well, she gave me three sheets of paper with food restrictions for a nickel-free diet. I won't bore you with all of the details, but the "highlights" are: all oils, except corn and olive, and all products made with them, all shortenings and margarine, all whole-grain wheat products (white flour in moderation is o.k.), all chocolate, all oatmeal products, all nuts (which aren't a problem because he's allergic) and seeds, all canned foods and drinks, all shellfish, all beans, including all soybean products, and a dozen or so other fruits and vegetables. Now, I don't know if you read food labels. I do, because of Michael's other food allergies, and let me tell you, there's not much left. Almost all snack foods (i.e. anything worth eating if you're a kid) have some kind of oil and it's not usually olive or corn. It's vegetable (soybean) or canola or sunflower, or peanut. Or they have chocolate, or oatmeal or wheat. I'm certain he could live without legumes (although they are very good for you) and canned goods and shellfish. But, come on.
After we left the doctor's office, in the car, Michael started looking through the list. His eyes first came to "chocolate." Since Michael is allergic to nuts, which frequently contaminate many chocolate goodies, he can't have much in that department. But, there are a few brands that are still safe and he really enjoys them. He started to get upset. "But mom, I can never have chocolate again?"
I said, "Michael, the doctor suggested a trial, just to see if removing these foods helps your skin at all. She didn't say forever. We'll see."
Well, you know how kids are -- they project into forever.
So, back to my original point. When I began thinking about this test, and what it could possibly mean, best-case scenario, I realized that this could be a gift from God. Maybe, as much a pain as it might be, the nickel-free diet will completely cure Michael of eczema. Maybe. Then again, it may have no affect at all and we'll go back to normal diet. But, I won't know until I try. And as I told Michael when we went to the Anointing, "If we don't ask God to heal us, we haven't done everything we can."
So, God, I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt on this one. And if I'm wrong, I'll be waiting for another sign.