Thursday, January 11, 2018

Waiting on News from the Doctor

Waiting on the Doctor
Barbara Henderson

There it is… the doctor has given you potentially bad or even fatal news.  You have to wait for results that will tell you what is going on, or you have the news and are waiting for treatment.  No one knows except the Lord what is going to happen.  Are you or a loved one going to live or die?  Will treatment work?  Is there any hope of a normal life again?

Experience tells me this is what you need to do.

First, thank God for heaven and that saved people go there when they leave this life.  The worst thing that can happen for believers is they will ultimately go to heaven.  But, there is what happens in between heaven and right now that matters.  Second, here is what you do.

Read the Bible.  Especially Genesis and the book of Psalms.  You are not reading to tell the future or to get insight into your own situation.  You are reading for comfort and distraction.  The time you are spending concentrating on the story told in the Bible you are not thinking about your situation.  You are getting to know God better, and you are getting to know the people in the Bible and their stories.  You are getting to know your brothers and sisters in Christ and the mistakes they made in their lives, and the trials they went through.  Sometimes something you read will seem to resonate with what you are going through, but that is not the main purpose of reading.  Your purpose is to put your trouble in the hands of God, and learn something useful. I find this works better in Genesis and the other story books of the Bible.  I confess to skipping a lot of genealogy and tabernacle building and ark building instructions.  Those are definitely important, but my mind is usually not able to get into this as much as what people did and probably wished they hadn’t done.  You may read about the tabernacle and be inspired to build a scale model.  Whatever causes you to concentrate on something of the Lord instead of your own problem is good.

I find Psalms the most comforting.  I tend to pray each verse – or word it in my own way.  This is between my and God, so it isn’t scripture twisting.  I am praying for understanding and comfort.  I don’t necessarily mean understanding in my own situation, but understanding in general as well as for mu situation.  This is very comforting to me.

Psalm 107: 23-31 is a perfect picture of what happens when dire troubles come.

‘They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
24 These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.
25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end.
28 Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
31 Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!’

First, we live in the world.  We see the works of the Lord on a daily basis.  He gives us our daily benefits!
Then the Lord raises a great stormy wind, and the ship is tossed up and down in the waves.  Those on the ship are terrified.  Their soul seems to melt.  They stagger like a drunk, and are at their wits end. Their daily lives are sorely disrupted!
THEN they cry to the Lord.  Their prayer probably goes something like, ‘HELP!’
The Lord calms them down.  (This is my favorite part.)  God calms the waves of turmoil in our hearts. 
We relax and cast all our burdens on the Lord.  What a relief.
Then the Lord brings them to their desired haven.
Those on the ship give praise to the Lord for His goodness and His wonderful works to the children of men.

It is almost (almost) worth the storm to get to the calm.  It feels sort of like going on a great adventure and being saved from disaster by the hand of the Lord. 

When facing a trial, this Psalm seems to play itself out a number of times. But with lessening intensity each time.  Just keep doing the same thing.  Throw yourself into the word of the Lord.  Reading the Bible, getting to know the Lord better and the people He wrote about, is going to do you good emotionally. It will just do you good. 

To all those facing a storm – or a cyclone/tsunami – cast your burdens on the Lord.  Throw yourself into His book.  Read what He says.  It all applies to each of us.  Don’t look for a ‘yes’ I will get well, or a ‘no’ that isn’t going to happen.  Just read, pray, study and learn.

And he said, If the Syrians be too strong for me, then thou shalt help me: but if the children of Ammon be too strong for thee, then I will help thee.

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

There is Always Something that Deserves Thanks in Your Life

In Everything Give Thanks
Barbara Henderson

‘Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.’    Philippines 4:6

It was a dark and stormy night.  The little child was actually alone in the house.  He was an only child.  He was at that awkward age when society was no longer definite regarding the proper age to be left alone.  Some people felt as young as eight was fine to be left alone for lengthy periods of time, but probably not over night.  Others felt as young as ten was a proper age to be left alone even for overnight.  Others felt that twelve was a proper age.  Others felt that fourteen was old enough.  And then people with good sense understood that even at twenty one years old children were seldom capable of taking care of themselves on a dark and stormy night.

In addition to age there is also the question regarding what evil lurks that a child or adult should cause anxiety in a child or adult.  For children there seldom has to be a real reason to be anxious. OR – real from an adult’s perspective.  Dreadful and fearsome things of the imagination are often very real to a child. The tiniest thing can set off a sensitive child.  As the mother of a child prone to nightmares (some time back of course) I can tell you a great deal of time was spent in trying to avoid anything with the slightest hint of something that would bring on night terrors.  Who knew that the cartoon ‘Grape Ape’ could be fun to watch Saturday morning and cause screaming terror the following night?  To my little one it was a very big deal.  As the adults our view was something else entirely.  We knew beyond any doubt what so ever that Grape Ape was not going to come to the house during the night and terrorize the family and crush the house into splinters.

To grown ups the fear was groundless.  But our child’s fear was something we paid attention to.  We KNEW there was nothing real in her nightmares to fear.  But our child didn’t know.  So we developed things we did at bed time to help sleep to come while good thoughts were being poured over the room.  We sang happy songs and Jesus Loves Me until we lost our voice or simply wore out and fell asleep.  Eventually childish nightmares passed into oblivion and real adult fears took their place.  Our sweet little one is now concerned with paying bills, health problems, world peace, liberality in the church, job security, wars and rumors of wars, economic disaster, and other things of equal importance.

But, just how big are these worries?  The answer is starring us in the face, but just as hard to believe sometimes as it was for our child to believe that Grape Ape was not coming to destroy the house.  Let’s put it very simply.  As born again children of God we are looking at our problems through the eyes of a child.  I don’t believe we have the capacity to fully understand just how small they really are.  We are dreading things that just aren’t that bad once they happen.  From our limited view death is the ultimate horror most of the time, but for believers it is just a move from a place of imperfection to a place of perfection.  In my current situation – stage 4 ovarian cancer – moving on to heaven involves two very dreadful things. 
The first is to leave my family and the sorrow they will have to go through. 
The second is the suffering that goes along with getting sick enough to actually die.  I have seen people linger, and it is very hard on everyone.  See the end of this article for a short article on the benefits of a lingering illness.  Within my limited capacity I do know and understand that the sorrow and worry of this life are temporary.  Death of a loved one who is in Christ is just the shadow of death.  I often consider that shadow of death, and it causes me to consider how horrible beyond description is the second death which is to be separated from God and all goodness in a place of torment for eternity.  Having faced the death of close loved ones and friends I know the horror of losing someone.  I have only lost professing believers, so I expect to see my loved ones in heaven.  But I sometimes can’t get it out of my head that their loss is only the shadow of death.  It is beyond comprehension.

However, as adults, we are still anxious or ‘careful’ for the future.  We don’t know what is coming or how we are going to handle it.  We don’t have a way to pay the future bills. We don’t have a way to cure that illness or get a better job or anything else for that matter.  We have things we can do such as give everything out best efforts.  Beyond that, the outcome is in the Lord’s hands.  How are we as adults supposed to cope with the hardships that are coming tomorrow?  It is it really possible to both lay me down in peace and sleep? 

    I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.
    Psalm 4:8

With some effort and determination on your part it is possible.  As usual the Bible has instructions on how to proceed.  If you want to make a slightly belated New Year’s Resoluction let it be to become a person who is thankful to the core of you being.

The key word here is ‘in’. The Bible says to give thanks in every situation.  It doesn’t say give thanks ‘for’ every situation. There are those who argue that we should be thankful for the sorrow and hardships, and I will admit that some very difficult times bring about blessings that you would have missed otherwise.  But, when at the beginning of a sorrow or difficulty it is most important to just be thankful for the things that are going right and for the good things God does for us daily.  In other words, count your blessings.  Name them one by one. 

‘Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.’    Philippines 4:6

When my 33 year old sister died unexpectedly I was immediately thankful that she was saved.  I know that heaven sometimes seems like it is a million years away, but never the less, heaven is real, and it is there with room for all believers.  There will be a real and literal reunion with Christ our Savior and all our saved friends and loved ones.

But there are daily benefits for which we should be sincerely thankful.  In thankfulness we overcome fear and anxiety.

If you are having trouble finding things that should bring about thanksgiving on your part, you may be depressed.  (I am not talking about during the immediate aftermath of a death or tragedy.)  If you have given yourself at least a little time to recover from a disaster – whether a sudden or lengthy disaster, then you likely are depressed to some extent.  Personally, I have been dealing with stage 4 cancer for nearly four years now.  I find that an anti-depressant helps me physically.  I am not really emotionally depressed.  In fact, I am for the most part pretty cheerful.  I would rather joke around than cry.  I learned from my sister’s death.  You never know who is going to live the longest, or who will have the best health.  Never-the-less, I am so fatigued most of the time it is difficult to get out of bed.  Believe it or not – the anti-depressant makes the difference.  So, my body is physically depressed, and the anti-depressant helps me.  If you think you need one see a doctor and ask.  The one I am on is very mild, and easy to get off of.  I was actually off it for a year, but then the cancer overcame the anti-cancer drug I was taking.  Now I am on a strong new anti-cancer drug that is as bad as chemo for causing fatigue and nausea.  (No hair loss – Lynparza)

I do not think everyone who is sad or in a bad mood is depressed, but because it is a real and treatable issue I did want to mention it.

Most of the time choosing a cheerful attitude is what you need.  And in choosing cheerfulness you ultimately choose to be thankful.  Think on the following.
Reasonably clean air to breath, water to drink, and food to eat.
Very healthy to still alive and kicking – there are usually some people far worse off than you.  It is just a comparison of misery.  Once you choose cheerfulness you have pity for all who suffer (including yourself) and you pray for them.
Most important – somewhere in the midst of the blessings of food, shelter, and health, you have heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  You are saved.  You are going to heaven.  It is really funny that while we cling to this life as so precious, we also look forward to the life of perfection awaiting us in heaven.

 If that doesn’t help you cheer up regardless of your circumstances then you probably have one of two problems.  You are likely either depressed or sporting a bad attitude.  (I’m sorry – I know that is blunt.  Believe me – I talk to my own self the same way.  I say ‘Barbara,….blah blah blah – and I can usually adjust my thinking  That is something I have learned to do over time.  I am still working on perfecting it.  But you have to start somewhere.) 

I am sure that I read a couple of books several years ago regarding dealing with Chronic Fatigue.  The author said if all the healthy life changes and vitamin pills aren’t working then you have to take an anti-depressant.  I paid him no mind – but I wish I would have.  I don’t have symptoms of depression that I normally think of when I think of depressed.  Anyway, I think the author was Jacob Teitelbaum, but please don’t quote me on that.  I want to give proper credit, but I just can’t remember for sure.

Personally, I thank God for whatever is going on as I go through my day.  I thank Him for the chemo like pills, and all the prescription drugs, and all the vitamin pills, and especially for the anti-acids, and on and on and on. I thank Him for indoor plumbing several times a day, as I have been in places where that was not available.  I than Him for running water, since I have been where hauling water was a way of life.  My grandparents had running water by the time Jerry and I got married, but no indoor plumbing until my husband and my other grandad and quite a few other family members got together and but in an indoor bathroom.  Electricity?  We have that too, and I am very thankful. 

Please don’t think I am letting you know how thankful I am.  What you are thankful for as you go through your day will probably be different.  I am thankful when the car starts.  I am thankful when the heater and AC work! My husband is a certified master mechanic – and I have basically had dependable transportation my entire life. But in our auto repair business I saw so many people that were struggling to just keep good brakes on a car that started most of the time.  (Let me give a buzz word for those not mechanically inclined – ‘preventative maintenance’.  Necessary car repair comes before everything except beans and rice and the mortgage payment.  That will put you on the road to dependable transportation as a norm in your own life.)

Developing a thankful attitude will be a blessing to you personally. Do you like yourself better when you are thankful or whiney?   It will also be a blessing to those around you.  Would you rather be around a whiney or thankful person.

When I write an article like this I always want to avoid hurting those who are in the middle of a heart break.  I am not taking your hurt lightly.  I do understand that are times when just being thankful for heaven is all we can manage.  If you are at a place where a flood of tears is necessary ten times a day then cry as needed.  If in the midst of grief you have moments where you feel semi-normal and are able to enjoy something even for a minute, then go ahead and do that.  Don’t get stuck in the miry clay of eternal grief.  Moving forward as you are able is the right thing to do.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.  Colossians 3:15

Make peace with God.  Repent of what is bothering God in your life, and then tell Him about what is bothering you.  This will make a thankful heart much easier.

 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. 
Psalm 100

Memorize this Pslam and apply it’s teaching to your life.  Remember to present music to the Lord that pleases Him and praises Him – not music and singing that pleases you or makes you ‘feel good’ although a by product of music and singing pleasing to God will likely make you feel good.  Just don’t make praising the Lord about yourself.

Second article - it is short

The Benefits of a Lingering Illness
Barbara Henderson

The bible says our God loads us with daily benefits. 

Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.
Psalm 68:19

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
Pslam 103:2

What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?
Psalm 116:12

The daily benefits do not stop because of a prolonged illness in a loved one, a friend, or even our own self.  God doesn’t stop caring for us, and He does not stop being in control.  There are benefits that go along with illness. 

It gives the sick person time to get their affairs in order.
They may recover or not.  Their affairs will still be in order.  They have time to consider heaven and get rid of any doubts about their own salvation.

It gives the family time to accept what is happening.
It is not a pleasant experience, but it is no better or worse than an unexpected loss.  IF someone has a lingering illness it gives the family time to adjust to some extent.  The final loss is still a shock, but it is somewhat better prepared for, at least from my experience.

It gives family time to consider their own eternal destination.
Lost family members cannot escape their own mortality while looking at someone they love facing a possibly terminal illness.

It gives an example to those you come in contact with regarding your own Christian faith and possibly point them to Christ.
Through an illness you meet people you would not have otherwise met.  The examples of the sick person and the family can be a witness to professional care givers and medical staff.

What you do matters in sickness or in health.
What a family does in a time of crises matters.  As Christians we are still supposed to be more like Christ.  How we face our own mortality or that of a family member matters.  Some people, family or others, will be affected by our actions and attitude.