“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”
I just read an amazing story from Eric Metaxas‘s excellent book Miracles. It’s a story about a woman named Eva Meyer, the daughter of a brilliant physicist, Dr. C.J. Meyer. Dr. Meyer was as gentle as he was brilliant and a loving father, but unfortunately his other daughter, Eva’s sister, didn’t take after him or her mother.
In the early 1990s Eva was given her sister’s infant daughter to care for, and later, her infant son as well. Eva raised them as her own for four years. She also did her best to protect them from the destructive lifestyle of their parents’ who were ensnared in substance abuse. Eva’s sister would spontaneously take them away from time to time, but Eva had no custody rights to the children and was helpless in the situation.
About ten years passed. Eva’s sister was living in Seattle and now had six children. The oldest of them was ten. Eva’s sister said she wanted to pay Eva a visit and flew out to her home in Connecticut for Christmas. But what she really wanted Continue reading
Yes, I know. Last post I said it was the last post on suffering. But I couldn’t let the series end without a short word on prayer. Prayer and suffering are just too connected to end it without addressing the issue of prayer.
My Desperate Prayer
I walked alone into the woods of the Rogue Valley, in Oregon. I wasn’t a Christian, but I was there to pray. I was making that hike and praying like that fairly often, because I was desperate for two things. One, I needed a job. Kathy was eight months pregnant with our first son Gabe. We were living in an 8′ x 24′ travel trailer and borrowing from my parents to make the rent. The shower was so small, and Kathy was so pregnant, that she couldn’t pick up a bar of soap if she dropped it. And I was unemployed.
The second thing I prayed for was strange because I wasn’t a Christian. The second thing I prayed for was Christian friends. Peculiar, I know. But I was so intrigued by Jesus that I wanted to learn more. And I felt the need to connect with other Christians so I could find out all I could about him.
I never saw God’s answer coming. The way He answered that prayer was completely outside of my imagination. I’ll share what He did Continue reading
Continuing our series on suffering, in this post we’ll look at the lies told about you when you suffer and the potent medicine God prescribes for our suffering.
A Man-Eating Lion
I was watching National Geographic one evening and they were telling the story of a man-eating lion. This lion had killed a villager which instilled terror in the hearts of the people in the area. So what they did was form a large group, and they left their village, and they walked out into the bush, banging on drums and whatever else they could find. Their goal was to drive the man-eater out into the open where they could kill it. And I was struck by how confident the people were as they walked through the jungle, the very jungle where that man-eater was lurking. As long as they stayed together, and as long as they continued to bang on their drums, the lion would stay away.
There’s a powerful weapon God gives us to use against the lion who stalks you, the one Jesus said, Continue reading
All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away (1 Peter 1:24 NKJV)
Continuing our series on pain and suffering, in this post I want to talk about the fear of dying. Because the fear of dying is another cause of a crushed spirit and suffering.
Asleep At the Wheel And The Consequences
Today I read about a sixteen year old who was driving the family SUV during a trip to Disney World. He fell asleep. He veered off the road to the left into the median. Then he overcorrected to the right and rolled the vehicle. Tragically his mother and father, Michael and Trudi Hardman and three children Continue reading
Paul Brand had just arrived home in London after a long train ride from India where he treated patients in a leper colony. In his own words, this is his story:
I pulled off my shoes to prepare for bed, and as I did a terrible awareness hit me with the force of a wrecking ball, I had no feeling in half my foot. I sank into a chair my mind whirling, “Perhaps it’s an illusion.” I closed my eyes and pressed against my heel with the tip of a ballpoint pen. Nothing. No sensation of touch whatsoever. A dread fear worse than any nausea seized my stomach. Had it finally happened?
Every leprosy worker recognizes that insensitivity to pain is one of the disease’s first symptoms. Had I just made the wretched leap from leprosy doctor, to leprosy patient? I stood up stiffly and shifted back and forth on my unfeeling foot, then I rummaged in my suitcase for a sewing needle and sat down again. I pricked a small patch of skin below my ankle. No pain. I jabbed the needle deeper, probing for a reflex but there was none. A dark speck of blood oozed out of the whole I just made. I put my face between my hands and shuddered, longing for pain that would not come. I suppose I always feared that moment. In the early days of working with leprosy patients every time I took a bath I made a visual check for skin patches. Most leprosy workers did.
Rest did not come to me that night. I lay fully clothed on my bed, except for shoes and socks, perspiring and breathing heavily. “Welcome to the society of the accursed,” I thought. I knew all too well what to expect. My office files were filled with diagrams charting the body’s gradual march toward numbness. Ordinary pleasures in life would slip away: petting a dog, running a hand across silk, holding a child. Soon all sensations would feel alike: dead.
At last dawn came and I arose unrested and full of despair. I stared in the mirror at my unshaven face checking for patches. During the night the clinician inside of me had taken over. “I mustn’t panic,” I thought. Since I knew more about this disease than the average doctor in London it was up to me to determine a course of treatment. First I must map out the affected area of insensitivity and get some sense of how far the disease has progressed.
I sat down, took a deep breath, and jabbed the point of that sewing needle into my heel: and I yelped. Never have I felt a sensation as delicious as that live electric jolt of pain. I laughed aloud at my foolishness. Of course it all made perfect sense. As I sat hunched in that train, my body too weak for the usual restless motion that redistributes weight and pressure, I had cut off blood supply to the main branch of the sciatic nerve in my leg, causing a temporary numbness.
“Temporary,” I thought.
Overnight that nerve had renewed itself and was now faithfully spitting out messages of pain and touch and cold and heat. There was no leprosy, only a weary traveler made neurotic by illness and fatigue.
That single sleepless night became for me a defining moment. The next morning when I had learned that my foot had come back to life, I knew I had crossed a chasm back to normal life.
And I breathed a prayer, “Thank God for pain.”
The Value Of Pain
You know, pain has value. Sure it’s miserable in the short term, but ultimately there’s great power in pain and suffering, and I’m not alone in thinking that.
Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church and author of the best seller The Purpose Driven Life, recently lost his 27 year old son Matthew to suicide. But even before that happened Warren wouldn’t Continue reading
Pain and Suffering
We’ve been exploring the topic of pain and suffering and one of the worst kinds of pain and suffering is the kind caused by the loss of a child. The following is a quote from Wilma Derkson who lost her daughter at the age of 13. (You can learn more about the Derksens and their remarkable response to their daughter’s murder in this TED Talk video: TEDxManitoba – Wilma Derksen: When Polarity in Forgiveness Happens)
Losing A Child
For six and a half weeks we didn’t know what had happened to Candace. She just disappeared into thin air. But everyone knows that when a 13-year-old girl goes missing then something is terribly wrong. She was a child in a woman’s body, that moment of vulnerability when one minute they’re a child and the next a woman.
Eventually Candace’s body was found in a shack not far from our home – her hands and feet had been tied. Someone had forced her there but we lived with the mystery of not knowing who had done this for the next 22 years.
The day her body was found all our friends came to visit bringing warm food with them. There was so much love in the house that it helped us get through. Then at around 10.30 that evening, when most people had left, there was a knock on the door and this stranger stood there. He told us, “I’m the parent of a murdered child too.” He was saying we now belonged to an exclusive club that no one wants to belong to. We invited him to the kitchen table and for the next two hours he told us in vivid detail everything he’d lost – his health, his relationships, his concentration, his ability to work. He’d even lost all memory of his daughter because now he could only think of the murder, the trauma and the hate that followed. –Wilma Derksen
Losing 10 Children Continue reading