Tom’s mobility challenges continue to increase and he is aware of subtle “glitches” in his communication. But in his own words, “I’ll do whatever God enables me to do. He requires no more than that!” Thankfully, Tom continues to have a good attitude and makes the best of a difficult daily life. We’re at a point where getting out, even for a ride in the car, is a major undertaking. Not impossible, but he’s not up to going out for unimportant excursions. As much as he likes a change in scenery, going out to eat isn’t worth the distress to get there. So, he says he is saving his strength for really important stuff—like church on Sunday and a last Hummer ride off-road today. (smile) We had planned to go yesterday, but ended up with too many unexpected events—like a large rodent in the house.
Hugo barked it into a corner and was able to pounce and grab it, which absolutely freaked me out big time as I stood on the couch. Meanwhile, Tom calmly gave instructions from his chair while his dog wildly displayed his catch, during which time I was closing my eyes and not calmly telling him to take it outside. Which he did. Thankfully. When the boys got home they examined the not yet dead but severely injured giant rodent, which turned out to be a young possum, and they dispatched it properly. Needless to say, it was enough excitement for one day and the Hummer trip was postponed until today.
We have grandkids here, so we took the boys with us, and a geo-cache they prepared to hide near Lytle Creek. It was a bit of a challenge getting Tom UP into the truck with one leg not working, but he was a trooper and a good 4 wheeling coach. I must say, he was very happy to get back home, however!
It’s hard to watch Tom suffer the indignities of sickness, and of course, I find myself praying a great deal about it. If I could choose a way to enter Heaven it would be the rapture first, then falling asleep in my bed and waking up in Heaven. Given the choice, I’d remove all suffering and make every day filled to the brim with nothing but comfort and joy. But of course, that’s not an option. Still, from a human standpoint, it’s what I’d like if I think from a purely human perspective without considering an eternal perspective.
All human beings like to be comfortable and avoid suffering. It’s not just a problem with spoiled Americans who live in the lap of luxury in comparison to the rest of the world! When people are sick, they want to be well, even in the far corners of poverty stricken Sudan. When people suffer persecution, they naturally want justice. When they work hard and plan well, they want to be rewarded for it. Human beings are wired to want relief, and will go to great lengths to get it! If you doubt this, just attend any prayer meeting in any Bible believing church anywhere in the world and pay attention to the requests that are heaviest on the hearts of most Christians.
The majority of requests are for physical healing and relief of some kind. It is certainly right to come to the Lord when we or a loved one is suffering. We are invited to come to our God when we are in any trouble and urged to pray for those who are are sick or suffering. But what is troubling to me is that these kinds of requests seem to take priority over requests for spiritual needs. We sometimes think we have suffered for Christ’s sake when we endure a sickness, and forget that most references in the Bible to suffering Christians revolve around the sacrifices and hardships that were incurred by believers who were focused on investing their lives and resources for the cause of Christ. It’s a different life focus.
I find myself needing to realign my thinking when my prayer life starts to revolve around a desire for physical relief or comfort of some kind for myself or a loved one to the exclusion of spiritual needs. Jesus encountered this human tendency often during His earthly ministry. He came to seek and to save that which was lost and bring the light of the Gospel to a world barreling toward destruction. While He had the utmost compassion for those who suffered physically, He continually pointed suffering people to that which is of much greater importance and consequence–the needs of the heart. Our problem is that we often don’t recognize just how spiritually needy we really are, or how profitable it is for us to grow spiritually. May we pray more for spiritual blessings and recognize their worth so we aren’t overwhelmed by their cost in terms of physical suffering.
For the believer, not one shred of suffering is purposeless. We can be sure that there’s more going on at a much deeper level than we are able to comprehend. Which is why David could say, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” (Psalms 119:71) He didn’t like afflictions or pain and suffering any more than you or I. He just understood that pain and suffering wasn’t the biggest of our problems or a meaningless exercise with no benefit. If afflictions open our eyes to what matters most and gives us an greater understanding of Gods truth, or builds something that lasts for eternity, its good. Suffering serves a purpose we don’t always comprehend, but we know that God our Creator is at work, and one day His work in our lives will be complete. The unbeliever sees the end of life as the end of joys, but the believer who has understanding sees the end of life as the end of all suffering, and the beginning of joys.
Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:19)