Homo Infirmitus


Science divides humanity into various hominid species including:

Homo Habilis – “handy man,” user of tools
Homo Erectus – “to put up, set upright”
Homo Sapien – “knowing man”

Let me suggest another:

Homo Infirmitus – “weakness, ailment”

From minor aches to terminal diseases, infirmities are part of being finite. Is there an intrinsic reason why this has to be so? We are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made,” but were we created with all these design flaws?

Every religion and philosophy has an explanation for suffering. Judeo-Christianity ascribes it to sin. A moral choice is said to have triggered physical decay; doing to the body what fermentation does to the grape—set it to rotting.

Humans have an innate sense that something’s wrong; this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. Hence the almost universal belief in an afterlife where we will be fixed. Pain will be eliminated and pleasure will be maximized (or the locus of both—the body—jettisoned altogether).

In the mean time our theology helps us cope by giving meaning to the madness. The Incarnation sends the message that God loves us and has undertaken our rescue. But even he can’t avoid the price of admission into the game of life—suffering and death.

As if enduring our own pain weren’t enough, we can experience the pain of others. The emotional connection to those we love is a nerve bundle through which we enjoy the most exquisite ecstasies and agonies.

Pain and suffering take up far too much of life if you ask me.

But then, nobody asked me.

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3 thoughts on “Homo Infirmitus

  1. As always, thank you so much for your interesting, inquisitive, and insightful writing — greatly appreciated. I would add an exclamation point, but that would incorrectly imply I’m happy. For days now I have been reading and re-reading Romans 8:18-27. In this particularly “real” Scripture passage we read how the the triune God willingly suffered, and continues to suffer, to bring about our deliverance from this world of suffering. Yet our sufferings in this life, we’re assured half a verse earlier in Romans 8:17b, somehow is a necessary prerequisite for us to share in the Lord’s glory. Yet who actually ever “sees” or “feels” this in his or her bones? I’m asking God to help me understand it, but that may or may not be possible this side of heaven. After all, not even God can put His deep groanings into words. “Pain and suffering take up far too much of life if you ask me.” It certainly feels that way.

  2. You are an amazing writer. My heart aches for the pain your family is enduring now and you have such a great way of expressing it. I am a family friend of the Briggs and happened upon your FB page when I clicked on your name from Julie’s page. My mom is Linda Loscalzo….I lost my dad to a brutal battle with cancer last year. I’ve asked many of those questions you’re asking too.

    My dad’s death and suffering has been life changing for my family in so many ways. The sadness is immeasurable and knowing that my daughters will never get to experience my dad’s love leaves me feeling resentful and angry. I feel like I lost my mom when he died – she’s a different person, and that’s been hard to accept too…..as you know, death is life changing in every way.

    My dad’s early death is what brought me back to Christ. It’s taken me a year to really think about what that could mean – God wouldn’t take him from all of us just to change my stubborn ways? That is way too self-centered of a thought, right? And God wouldn’t really do that anyway, right? Ironically as I wrestle with those questions, my faith in the Lord grows stronger each day. And I realize the promise I made to may dad during his last days, to re-commit my life to Christ, is not undermined. If my life was saved (and in turn my husbands and daughters), as my dad’s life was taken….oh, to even think those thoughts and now to write them out for the first time is so difficult.

    In the meantime I will make sure my dad’s legacy lives on. That the example he set for me will not be wasted. I will make sure my kids know the amazing love of Christ personally. I will be grateful for God’s mercies each day. I am forever thankful that my dad taught me the love of Christ.

    You too are providing that same legacy to your children, and their children, and on. I can tell you are a spirited fighter. I would love to have met you while you were here in Arizona – but it sounds like you are out of here today! I will continue to pray for endurance and healing for you.

    Love your sister in Christ,
    Jill Knight

    p.s. Have you heard the song Blessings by Laura Story? She wrote it while her husband battled his brain tumor. These are my favorite lines from it:

    Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops?
    What if your healing comes through tears?
    What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?
    What if my greatest disappointments, or the aching of this life;
    Is a revealing of greater thirst that a world can’t satisfy?
    And what if trials of this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest nights;
    Are Your mercies in disguise?

  3. You ask the question’s that most of us don’t have the ball’s to say out loud mike. Thank God for you.
    Keep em coming:-) Just asking you;-)

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