Ten days since I posted a blog–until yesterday. Where have I been? (Please, don’t dent my ego by saying you didn’t notice!) I’ve not felt well enough to write.
Maybe I shouldn’t explain. Might sound like I’m looking for pity. I’m really not. I’m telling my story, because it’s on my mind. But more, because my experience may help you sometime.
In the last ten days, my weakness/numbness, always below my waist, seemed on occasion to climb into my head—bad enough to make serious thinking impossible. But something else blocked my writing. Unconsciously, I think I shied away from God’s Word because he seemed silent to my pleas for help and some healing.
I was acting like our dog. A few days ago, I was about to give her a treat, when I must have unknowingly pinched her leg or paw under my wheelchair. Whatever happened, she yelped. Ever since, she won’t come close to get a treat. I’ve been acting like her. God is sovereign, therefore he either sent or at least allowed my illness. So unconsciously, I’ve shied away from his Word. If I had to reason it out, I’d say I had little interest in the One who caused me to suffer.
That I can’t see any good in this just exacerbated my disinterest. God works for the good in all things? This suffering produces perseverance which produces proven character which enlarges my capacity to hope for coming glory? My weakness increases my reliance on the Lord? I didn’t see any of that. In my heart, none of it seemed true. And when someone suggested that maybe I, in my finiteness, wasn’t able to see the good the infinite God saw, I waved it off. Convenient rationalization!
If God was, in effect, taking my writing (and serious reading) away . . . well, I couldn’t handle that! I’ll just go sulk in my corner.
It didn’t help that I was reading a book on spiritual gifts, in which one of four authors argued that miraculous gifts ceased with the apostles’ deaths. He pointed out that Jesus’ miracles were signs of his messiahship, signs of his kingdom breaking in. Miracles for then, for that unique period of salvation-history, but not for now. His words dampened my hope for a miracle.
Then I recalled two Scripture texts. (Was it the Holy Spirit?) The first was John 6:53-68. Jesus had just told the Jews they had to “eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood; otherwise they would have no life in them. “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So, Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life . . . ‘” .
“Lord, to whom shall we go?” A provocative question. If I turn away from Jesus because the all-loving, all-powerful God allows so much suffering, to whom shall I go? If suffering disproves the existence of an all-loving, all-powerful God, I have nowhere else to turn. Either I keep faith in this God who’s run his wheelchair over my paw, or I have no one, nothing.
I recalled a second Scripture–about Jesus having compassion on the sick. I found it—Matthew 14:13,14 . . .
“When Jesus heard [that John had been beheaded], he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”
Matthew goes on to report how Jesus miraculously fed 5000. The feeding was a sign, but healing the sick is described as an act of compassion. So, I started whispering this prayer . . .
“Jesus, look on me with compassion. Take pity on me and heal me.”
Do you see what was happening? I dismissed the idea that my illness came so I’d learn to lean more on the Lord. But that’s exactly what was happening! Unconsciously I was shying away from him who allowed me hurt. Consciously I realized I had no one else to turn to. So, I went to him–without any plea but for his pity and power. To him who held power to protect me–or heal me–but hadn’t. To him who allowed my hurt. To him who I unconsciously shied away from. I turned to him–as if drawn by a silent power greater than mine.
How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33b). Or as these worshippers sang it , , ,
Now for the last two days, I’ve felt better. Not great, but better. And, more importantly, I’ve felt closer to him–or him closer to me. It may become more difficult to write. But I’ll keep on as long as he enables me. And I’ll stop acting like our dog, because . . .
“if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (1 Timothy 2:13).
“If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31b-39).