Friday, November 14, 2014

Growing through Storms

When storms come they usually leave a mess behind. Some well built structures get thrown around and carefully constructed items can lose their shape and purpose completely. How we deal with the shock, sadness and disappointment caused by all this determines whether we grow through the storm or are diminished by it. Certainly the equivalent of surges and storm force weather in my life have recently caused me quite a lot of pain and not a little disappointment too. The amazing pain control system placed surgically within my spine nearly four years ago and then renewed this July has lost its effectiveness completely. I am being told stuff about the nerves of the body growing tolerant or getting scarred so that they no longer pass the pain-relieving current as they did at first.

A month ago I had a stent fitted to my pancreatic duct to try and bridge a stricture and relieve the pressure and pain. There followed two or three weeks of relative calm.  I really thought this was it!  They have cracked it at last! Then the symptoms returned big time. Now it appears that the stent is blocked and so I must return to UCLH in London to have it removed and replaced with a larger one. The disarray in my life is great though not complete. My carefully constructed plans are once again thrown into a mess. I have to cancel a visit to the Lake District next week to attend a writer's retreat and put off a friend who was coming to eat with us over this weekend.  Grrrr!  Frustration and pain.

But it is so good to know that I have a shelter in these storms, in fact, in every kind of upheaval that life throws at us. Peace in a time of storm, hope when despair threatens, the assurance of eternal life in Christ, the comfort given by knowing that I am loved, the constant reassurance I find in my precious wife and her amazing support of me, the fellowship of praying friends - WOW! Like mid-Western Americans slowly climbing out of their hurricane shelters to witness the devastation that the storm has brought, I am saddened and shocked - but I know this damage is only temporary.  It will be repaired because ultimately my life is not a series of accidents and storms, but is held by a hand greater than my own. You can read more about this in my first book Braving the Storm.

I recall that, whilst gazing on desolation in the deserted streets of the destroyed city of Jerusalem a few hundred years ago, Jeremiah the prophet wrote "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." (Lamentations 3:22-23). That perspective gives me hope. God is not finished with me yet. His mercies are new each morning and He still has a plan for my life. Well, maybe we'll get this mess cleared up soon eh?