Friday, February 25, 2011

How long, O Lord?

As I know you may well be one of my readers who takes time to pray for Diane and myself I just want to bring you up to date on the latest situation regarding our on-going war with pancreatitis and pain.  Last week's surgery in Guys Hospital London went well, although the journey home with my 3 stitched wounds was quite an ordeal.  The weekend saw me holding my belly and gritting my teeth as infection set in to the wound on my front, and it seemed a long time till Monday when we could get some antibiotic help.  Thankfully they have worked and the infection is subsiding.

As you may know, the surgical team have a new policy from the start of this year (one which they failed to tell me about until I was in the recovery room!) in which they delay programming the spinal stimulator for at least a week or so after the operation. Previously this had been done the day after the op, as I had experienced during the trial procedure last December. This means that we will be hauling my s.a. (if you don't get that don't ask!) once again back through Gatwick Airport on this coming Tuesday, not a pretty prospect. On Wednesday they will programme the kit and switch me on. If you get a moment to pray, please ask for strength to undertake this journey feeling as sore as I do from the surgery, and still battling strong pancreatic pain daily!

We are both so grateful that I have been chosen for this treatment and that the surgical part is now behind me. It offers the prospect of real benefit in terms of pain relief if it works as well as in the trial, and the hope of much better days to come.  We still hold on to the promise of 1 Peter 5:10 'The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good.' (The Message).

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Headache Cure for All.

Oh boy - all this deep thinking gives me a headache. When I start thinking about my problems and the sufferings in the world - life often doesn't seem fair does it?  When you look at the Beckhams of this world, or maybe even just your neighbours, and they seem to have so much money and possessions yet care so little about God, or the needs of others, and then I think about my lot in life - ouch time! That's what the writer of Psalm 73 said (in The Message version).  'What’s going on here? Is God out to lunch? Nobody’s tending the store.The wicked get by with everything; they have it made, piling up riches. I’ve been stupid to play by the rules; what has it gotten me? Still, when I tried to figure it out, all I got was a splitting headache…'.

Do you feel that way sometimes?  Oh maybe not today but you know what I mean, what the Psalm writer meant.  What's the answer to this life induced pressure on the mind? Well, it's not to deny the reality of how hard life can be.  Nearly two thirds of the whole of the book of Psalms is made up by what is called 'lament' - a kind of religious poem or song designed to describe how bad things are.  No denial there then.  Yet, in many of these very honest declarations there are also found statements that turn back our faith and confidence towards God.  Like here in Psalm 73.  The very next line to the one quoted above says this: 'Until I entered the sanctuary of God. Then I saw the whole picture: The slippery road you’ve put them on, with a final crash in a ditch of delusions.'  So what we see today is not the end of the story.  The writer went in to the place of prayer 'the sanctuary of God' he or she calls it, and was granted there a revelation of the end of all humanity without Christ.  Suddenly the eyes of their heart were opened, and they understood the bigger picture.

This world is not all there is.  In fact, the Bible describes what we have today as being as brief as the falling of a leaf, like a tale that is told or a breath that is breathed momentarily and then is gone forever.  None of the trinkets that society might envy as the signs of success really matter to God.  At the end of the day He reads the thoughts and intentions of every heart - and holds our allotted number of breaths like a loan ready to be called.

There's only one cure to that kind of headache.  It's trust in Christ as saviour and Lord.  Only in truly following Him can we be ready for the day when that most vital of all loans is recalled.  'Because He lives, I shall live also' is a great reminder that our values need to reflect eternity if they are to be properly balanced on earth.  Any other approach is fertile headache country.