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Posts Tagged ‘suffering’

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

We can recover.

The sun rises every morning and one day follows another.

We can be confident in that.

And as time moves forward, so things change.

Slowly at first, imperceptibly, until we gradually realise that we are changing too.

And hope appears on the horizon.

Norman Wright outlines 3 stages of recovery:

  • The Thinking Stage: This is when you face the facts. You put the pieces of your jig-saw puzzle together to try to make sense of the picture. You go over what has happened in minute detail, alone and with friends. You are a detached observer rather than an emotional participant. For me this was hours and hours searching the internet to learn all I could about breast cancer. I wanted to know every detail and I wanted to understand the numbers and the risks.
  • The Emotional Stage: This is when you feel the pain. Your emotions well up from deep within you and spill out in a stream, a river, a waterfall. There will be anger, anxiety, grief, fear, sadness. For me this was a constant leaking. I cried almost every day, many times a day, for three months. Tears welled up as I recognised the layers of consequences of what was happening to me. I stopped crying when I started the blog.
  • The Stage of Mastery: At the beginning you cannot believe this stage will happen but it does. Your perspective changes, you find value in your experience. You have learned things you could not have learned in any other way. You become a survivor rather than a victim, taking control of the direction of your life again. Your outer journey may still be very challenging, but you have found a strength for the inner journey which transforms your experience. Laughter can reappear, with all its healing power.

The stages vary in length for each person, and they can overlap.

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

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Life can take its toll on us.

My bible reading plan is taking me through Mark – and last week I met again the woman who touched the edge of Jesus’ cloak.

What Jesus said to her moves me deeply.

She had a tough life. She was suffering physically and emotionally. Despite spending all of her money on trying to find a cure for her twelve years of pain, she was getting worse rather than better.

She heard about this man, Jesus. She knew he cared about others who suffered: he noticed them and he touched them.

And his touch could heal.

He was radical and powerful.

She was resourceful and believing.

She pushed through the crowd and stretched out her hand to touch the man she believed could heal her. With every grain of her being she engaged in changing her future.

Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

Jesus said to her . .

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Click here to read some more about the Afghan woman in the picture above. Life has taken a heavy toll on her.

We can engage in changing. And we can pray for healing, peace, and freedom from suffering for ourselves and for others.

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Treatment 2/18 today and no problems. Same staff, minimal delay, fish more relaxed.

Retail therapy on the way home.

I could get used to this. I could congratulate myself on coping well with the outer journey. And you might look on and say “Isn’t she strong!”

Well of course I am . . . until I am not.

Now that the physical suffering of chemotherapy is fading, the inner journey takes my attention. And the main driver is fear.

Who would’nt be fearful when you are told you have cancer?

C.H. Spurgeon, commenting on Psalm 119 when King David pleaded with God for deliverance from his troubles, wrote:

He who has been with God in the closet will find God with him in the furnace

If we expect to recognise God’s presence with us when we are in trouble, we need to have spent time getting to know him when things are going well. In fact, we need to set aside time to make sure we know HIM and not some teddy-bear God we construct to suit our needs.

I am learning a lot about anxiety and fear – what they mean to me and how to manage them.

My radiotherapy treatment is all about adding years to my life. With this in mind, what Jesus says about worry hits home

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life . . .  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ?

Clearly worry is not a constructive part of my treatment plan.

Jeremiah spoke of God’s compassion and faithfulness, in the midst of his severe suffering. He had a very mature knowledge and experience of God. I can learn a lot from him.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Both passages refer to God’s love and provision being given one day at a time, fresh for the day’s needs and not to be stored in advance.

Now we do need to plan ahead for business, for agriculture, for education etc.

This challenge is about the stuff we construct and then worry about – the what if’ scenarios. You can reflect on your own what if’ scenarios, or you can imagine what mine might be in relation to cancer.

We want tomorrow’s blessings today. We want to store up certainty today so that we do not need to worry tomorrow. And yet chances are we will worry again tomorrow about the next day.

God says trust me for today’s resources today and tomorrow’s resources tomorrow.

Maybe your worry is not about the length of your life – but there is a principle here that covers worry in general.

I can see the benefit of going to bed ’empty’ and yet free from worry, knowing that in the morning God will fill me up again. To do this I need to spend time in the closet getting to know the God that Jesus shows me and learning to trust him.

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. . . all the time.

Can you believe it?

How ironic that this should be my scheduled blog, part 2 of the apprentice series, after yesterday’s news.

Some events shake you at your core. Your whole body responds – physically, emotionally and intellectually. As you try to make sense of the mess that is life, you refer to the narrative you hold about God and suffering.

James Bryan Smith wrote the chapter God is Good from the heart. His second child, Madeline, was born with severe chromosomal abnormalities. Doctors told him and his wife that she would not survive birth, yet she lived for two years. Through these years they explored their own narrative about God and suffering. And they suffered on the receiving end of comments from well-meaning friends who spoke from the belief that Madeline’s deformity was in some way a punishment. People can have a strong need to be in control – to have a set of cause-and-effect rules that explain everything.

Christians and non christians commonly hold to the narrative that

God is an angry judge. If you do well, you will be blessed; if you sin, you will be punished

I hear it all the time from people around me.  And this was the dominant narrative about God held by the people Jesus associated with. You can hear the ‘punishing God’ belief behind the question when Jesus was asked to explain two horrific events – one caused by human wickedness and the other a natural disaster. Jesus answered:

Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

Jesus unequivocally rejects any link between suffering and personal sin. And then he uses the opportunity to warn that there is a bigger issue at stake, a fate worse than death. What a challenge to pay close attention and lift our thoughts beyond immediate issues.

Elsewhere Jesus shows that God treats all people the same

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous

You do not get what you deserve – and you get what you do not deserve. Wonderful things happen to evil people and dreadful things happen to wonderful people.

So what narrative does Jesus teach us about God?

Jesus boldly proclaims that his heavenly Father is good – good like no other. God is the benchmark for what is GOOD. The dictionary defines this as possessing or displaying moral virtue. For there to be a benchmark for what is good, there must also be a benchmark for what is evil – we can explore that later.

God reaches out to show us his goodness. He takes the initiative in making himself known to us.

And in the end it is the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience . . that lead us to him.

If you believe God is an angry judge, then you are likely to respond to him by being angry when things do not work out as you think they should. Our experience of disappointment with God says more about us and our expectations than it does about God.

James Bryan Smith’s experience, and my own, challenge me to check out the narrative I hold about God to see if it is consistent with the God Jesus revealed.

Check out your narrative of God . . . and share some thoughts or experiences with us. Is God GOOD – all the time?

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