Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Election Fever

On April 23rd the good citizens of Guernsey go to the polls to elect their new government. The general election takes place every four years and each candidate stands as an indepenedent, there being no political parties. Election fever is all around us now, with hustings and manifestos making bold promises and grand statements, so different from the record of achievement during the last administration. It is a bit of a big yawn, really, but it has to be done.

Sadly, in this election the turnout will not be high. I say sadly because the privilege of casting your vote is one that was dearly won by our predecessors. In Britain women chained themselves to lamposts and threw themselves under racehorses, just to win the right to vote. Elsewhere in the world the ballot box has only just replaced the bullet as the way of deciding political outcomes. The turnout in Iraqi elections was nothing hort of staggering given the amount of danger and intimidation.

So, I shall cast my vote and believe that I am making a difference - and even if not I will be honouring those who have paid the price. And speaking of paying the price - I am really praying that in another so-called election, Mugabe will go!

Now that would cure any election fever!

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Gift of Pain

London was crazy! Every time we go there (and there have been a lot of times in the last four years) we come away amazed at the stress it must put on its inhabitants. Never are we more grateful to arrive back in Guernsey than we are when we have been in Central London for medical treatment. But things went well, and London is where the expertise is, so that's where we go for help.

My battle now is to overcome exhaustion and other symptoms of pancreatitis but that will be so much easier without the dreadful pain, at least for the next while. While we pray for the procedure to keep working for as long as possible, what we really long for, of course, is the healing and eradication of the underlying disease. We know God can do this, and we await His touch and timing.

In a sense there is another lesson here. Extreme pain can become your whole focus, making it diffiult to pray, to write and to even think straight. Yet the pain itself is only a symptom. Sometimes it is a very important signal that all is not well within. Leprosy sufferers lose their fingers and toes because they have no nerve endings in them to warn them of the danger caused by heat or injury. Pain can be a gift - though one that I certainly don't enjoy!

If your life is marked by pain, physical, mental, emotional, or family pain, try to look beyond it and see what God is saying about underlying issues like your relationship with Him and His love for you. I have written more about this in my book Braving the Storm, and will come to it again in the follow-up Storm Force due out later this year or early next. This is not an easy process, and one which cannot be achieved alone. But let's try to look beyond our pain and address the issues that lie within.

We may be able to see pain as a gift then. Maybe!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Relief on the Horizon

Apparently the joy of banging your head against a brick wall is the relief it gives you when you stop! Relief can be exquisite and I am really praying for some. I will travel next week to the University College Hospital in London where the doctors will perform a celiac plexus block in an attempt to give me some relief from pancreatic pain. I am looking forward to it with great anticipation, as you can imagine.

My relief, however, will be as nothing compared to the great sigh of relief that would go up from millions of Zimbabweans if Mr Mugabe should actually stand down this week. After 28 years of misrule he has finally reduced his country to ruin. Despite the riches of the goldmines and the millions of acres of lush arable land that now stand idle, Zimbabwe has been transformed from being the bread basket of Southern Africa to being its begging bowl. We pray for relief for that land and for its people. It will take generations to undo the damage that he and his cronies have done.

I can only speak for the Shona people, never having worked among the Matabele (though they have suffered even more under Mr Mugabe who is a Shona). They are a wonderfully warm and kind people, well-mannered and not easily provoked, who deserve so much better than the rulers they have had in the past. We must pray that the new government, if it is gven a chance, will show a new face in African politics and turn away from the choking stench of corruption and hypocrisy that has sullied the leadership so far.

Now that would be a relief.