Monday, March 29, 2010

Familiar with Suffering

I find myself at a loss to know how to explain my situation at this time.  If you know me you will already be aware of my 14 year battle with chronic pancreatitis and recurring acute pancreatitis. Until last year I was also being admitted to hospital every month or so with a nasty illness called cholangitis - the inflammation or infection of the bile tree - quite a dangerous condition leading to septic shock and more!  I had a huge operation in London last July to overcome this.  It appeared to have worked.  The cholangitis attacks stopped, but then we fought a renewed outbreak of pancreatitis.  Now I am booked to go into the University Hospital in London at the end of April to commence between 6 weeks and 4 months of total pancreatic rest with nil by mouth.  Would you credit it?  On the cusp of this difficult and rigorous treatment - the cholangitis attacks have started again!

Please pardon my being a bit stuck for words to say. I am gutted.  I have just got home after 5 days in the local hospital with this latest attack.  So - here we go again.  Is there to be no oasis in this desert?  Are my tears in vain?  Does my cry get any higher than the ceiling?

Oh I know that is not true, but it does feel like it.  Still, it must have felt pretty rotten for our parents to endure the Second World War.  It must be pretty foul to have MS like a young Christian friend of mine.  There must be thousands of decent people whose situation is a zillion times worse.  And then - how did Jesus feel, brutally beaten and flogged at 33 years of age, hung on a cruel cross and for what?  'He had done no wrong, no violence, neither was there any deception in his mouth.  Yet, it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer' (Isaiah 53:10).

So - it's Holy Week and I for one don't feel very holy.  If it wasn't for that cross - for those hands - for those drops of blood - for that glorious first Sunday morning!  I'd be finished.  Sometimes I feel as though I am.  'Lord, please give me the strength to go on'.

Friday, March 05, 2010

A Call to Prayer

I read this report today on the website of the Barnabas Fund 'The situation for Christians in Iraq has steadily got worse over recent years. Baghdad and Mosul appear to be particularly dangerous places for Christians, with numerous examples of horrendous anti-Christian atrocities including rape, kidnapping and murder. Women and church leaders are particularly targeted. Car bomb attacks occur on churches, especially at times when there will be worshippers present.'

It just seems so sad and wrong that the Christian community in Iraq has gained so little from the so-called 'Iraq War' and are far worse off now than they were under Saddam's terrible regime.  It really does help me to put my own little cup of suffering into perspective when I read this, and remember that we are not promised a bed of roses on which we will be wafted to heaven straight from the point of our commitment to Christ!  Life is tough, and the Christian life is really tough.  Thankfully the One who calls us is faithful and will be with us in all our trials.  The blood of the martyrs is still the seed of the church in 2010.

Let's pray for the Church in Iraq and do all we can to support it practically too.