Write

02/10/2008

I’m spending the day at home today, waiting, and it seems the Lord keeps prompting me to write, but I keep telling Him I don’t have anything to write about. I still want to be obedient, so here I am. It’s not that I’m ever short on words; I just don’t usually pick up my laptop to write without a subject, a theme, an idea, a clue as to what I will put down on “paper.”

Another reason I don’t want to write today is because I’m trying not to be angry, and I’m trying to be patient, and if I write, will I write out of anger? Will I write out of impatience? I want the Holy Spirit within me to be my strength, and to control what’s not so pretty in me right now, but maybe this is how God will use His Spirit to work this out in me today. I will watch Him work, as my fingers type….

So, I’m angry. Angry about what, you might ask? Angry with the seemingly lack of understanding of the uniqueness in each person that is dealt with by the medical profession, and the realization that patients are not a chart number, not a case, but a person with a family, with emotions, with fears, with plans and ideas—and not wanting to be anymore a part of the medical system than the next guy, but sometimes ending up there anyway.

We need the medical system, the doctors and nurses and all the others who care for those who are sick—but it’s not fun, and it’s time-consuming, and we’d just rather not. And if the doctors don’t seem to love the people they treat as much as they love the medicine they practice, it can bring on anger…which is what I don’t want to write about today. But, I will…

What do I mean by loving the people as much as the medicine? Well, I would hope most doctors are doctors and nurses are nurses because it’s what they’ve always wanted to do. Since they were a small child, perhaps they knew they would go into medicine, and they have. They labored long and hard learning everything they would need to know to practice medicine—to get to the bottom of what ails a person and prescribe the necessary treatment to cure it. Aren’t we thankful when they can do that…relieve the pain, stop the itch, set the bone, stitch up the cut, etc… We need a place to go to get some help when we are ill, and because some have taken the time and energy to learn these things, they are now there for us, and we are grateful! I wouldn’t want to have to persevere through all that schooling…so I appreciate those who do, and who love medicine that much.

Now, onto the side of loving the people they treat…it can be a lot harder to love, than to prescribe medications or do surgery, or to listen to ailments. People are messy, they are confusing, and we all have our different complaints at different times. What is a doctor to make of it? What is their office staff to make of it? Some patients will call when there’s barely been a whimper and insist on some attention; some patients won’t call until it’s a life or death situation, and still not want to seek help. Most people probably land in the middle somewhere, but how is a medical professional to know who is who and what is what? And what do we do when we’re the ones waiting on their response, as I am today? I guess I write about it, while praying about it and sorting through it, and trusting that God is God, and God knows, and let it be well with my soul. Easier said than done!!

We also pray that you will be strengthened with his
glorious power so that you will have all the patience
and endurance you need. Colossians 1:11 (NLT)

We have to pray for one another because we need God’s glorious power, otherwise our patience and endurance will be lacking! It’s just not in us! We can try, we can go looking for it, but it’s not there! It vanishes quickly as troubles mount and we’re not feeling well, and phone calls don’t come, and answers aren’t given, and the clock ticks away as our lives are put on hold until someone else is available to “take our call.”

Why do we get so frustrated and angry? I was thinking about it last night, and I thought it’s probably because we are not in control, and we want to be. We want to be able to call the doctor and say, “This is what’s happening, here’s what I think you should do,” and that’s that. But no! We call and make an appointment at their convenience, go in for tests we’d rather not have to endure, feel pain we’d rather not feel, wait a long time for results—almost having to remind them sometimes that it really does matter to us, yes, please call with the results when you get them. No, I don’t want to wait through the weekend. Then there’s more waiting on our insurance companies to figure out the game plan, and set a date that’s convenient for them, and live with our condition until that date. And if something should happen to our health in the meantime, it better not be on the weekend, or on the doctor’s day off…I called the doctor this morning, glad that it was finally Monday and we could get some things moving forward with my “case.” It turned out it’s his day off, and I was told they would put a note on his desk so he’d see to it tomorrow morning…other than that, just go into the ER if you’re having problems.

Where’s the tenderness, the kindness, the love…? It seemed to be missing.

Do you see why we need God’s glorious power so that we can have all the patience and endurance needed along the way? God wasn’t writing a children’s book when He wrote the Bible, He was writing our manual for the life of adults who need His help, His care, His concern, and His love every single day—not just Monday through Friday, 8-5. God doesn’t take a day off, and He’s available 24-7, aren’t we glad?

I’m dealing with something right now that’s very common among women my age, and yet, even in that there are many different directions it could go, and many different remedies for the situation. I am thankful that my doctor has decided I’m a good candidate for a hysterectomy, and that my insurance company has agreed with that conclusion. Soon, I will be having surgery, and I’m more than ready to proceed. Some, I have heard, wait and endure many other treatments on their journeys through this time of life, and it seems many times we do not get to be the judge and jury about what will or won’t be done to our own bodies. We sort of get put back into that child’s role of being good, being quiet, waiting, and then eventually being told what to do and when. And we’re not very good at it, are we? Not after we’ve grown up and are used to making our own decisions about most things.

We ask God to give you a complete understanding of what
he wants to do in your lives, and we ask him to make you
wise with spiritual wisdom. Colossians 1:9 (NLT)

There are many things in life that we just don’t get to decide, and many times our health is one of them. Oh sure, we can take good care of ourselves, get regular check-ups, and all that, but sometimes our body just runs away with us and we have to deal with what is. It could be cancer, high blood pressure, glaucoma, hearing loss, you name it…our bodies wear out, and we need a doctor to help fix us up from time to time.

We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long for
the day when we will put on our heavenly bodies like new
clothing…Our dying bodies make us groan and sigh…
2 Corinthians 5:2&4 (NLT)

Many times it has been asked, what age will we be in Heaven? I’ve heard it said we’ll be around 30. I think that would be a good age…if we’re healthy, 30 is an age when most things are still working quite well, and we’re past the age of all those adjustments being made through our teen years when everything felt pretty uncomfortable. Being on the other end of that now, at age 50, everything is feeling pretty uncomfortable again. Thirty sounds good to me for a Heavenly age!

God didn’t design us this way, to grow weary in our present bodies, and then to get angry and impatient about all that it entails when we do. Those things came with the fall in the Garden, when Adam and Eve ate what they shouldn’t have eaten, and quickly grabbed for the fig leaves to cover what was no longer comfortable being exposed. Sort of like being in the doctor’s office, exposing what’s not very comfortable. Oh, we tell ourselves they’re a doctor, after all, but we also realize they’re a human being just like we are, and it’s not a whole lot of fun.

What must it be like to be a doctor? To have to work with people who are sick all the time—who usually only seek you out when something is hurting, or doesn’t feel right, or needs repair? Not that we should drop in and visit our doctor when we’re in the neighborhood, and take time out of their day for a friendly chat, but think about it from their side, it can’t be easy. My doctor first saw me in the hospital, after I’d received two units of blood. I was better, but not great, and he had to discuss options with me about what to do next. The next time he saw me was in his office, as I sat in a chair, my head leaned back against the wall, and I was telling him I just wasn’t doing well…I was exhausted, I was still dizzy. He said, “Give it some time.” Then for my third visit, I was more myself. That was, until he had to perform a test that was very uncomfortable for me…he walked in to a smiling patient, he left the room with one not so pleased. It seems doctors can’t win for losing…even when we enter feeling good we could leave feeling bad. It’s definitely not an easy profession to be in.

And neither is human life…an easy profession to be in. Although Paul says:

I am glad when I suffer for you in my body,
for I am completing what remains of Christ’s
suffering for his body, the church.
Colossians 1:4 (NLT)

Glad? To suffer? That’s being truly dedicated to his life of being a servant for the body of Christ isn’t it? I was suffering the other night, lying in my bed. I didn’t know if it was physical, spiritual, emotional, or what…I just knew I wanted to crawl out of my skin and escape this world if I possibly could. Looking back now, it was probably very physical, tied in with all that my body is going through leading up to the surgery I need. I remember talking to God about it, and truly feeling that He was telling me He was working on some things in me, to hang in there. I can attest to the fact that it certainly did feel a bit like going through the “Refiner’s fire.”

What God showed me the next day was so beautiful. It was the embrace of my grandchildren, the love of my daughter-in-law, of my husband, of a friend…when I wanted to crawl out of my skin and escape this world, God loved me through His Body of believers here on earth, and I could truly sense His care and His comfort. To know and feel His love through others started to make the fire worth it, because it once more helped me to know that the God of the Universe sees our suffering and has not left us alone in it. He’s in each detail. Sometimes we forget that and need to be reminded. We can feel so alone, especially in the dark of the night when we are hurting.

Let your roots grow down into him and draw up
nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong
and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives
overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done.
Colossians 2:7 (NLT)

I drew nourishment from God after a night of suffering by seeing His loving care from those He has placed in my life. We can see God work in many different ways, if we will watch for Him in all things. Just recently, I had to have an ultrasound done in preparation for surgery. The doctor’s office called to schedule the appointment with radiology, and the young woman at the front desk was surprised at the ease of getting through to the radiology department and making the appointment. She said it never goes that fast! I said, “Well, I have people praying that it goes smoothly and quickly today.” The other young woman there said, “It’s working!” Then what should happen, but I lost my paper work for the ultrasound! And, my scheduled appointment was too early in the morning to be able to get the doctor to rewrite it. I showed up on time for the ultrasound, no paperwork in hand, as my husband went upstairs to see what he could do at the doctor’s office. When the women who worked in the doctor’s office showed up, and the situation was explained, she said, “I don’t think we have a copy of that.” (And the doctor would not be in for an hour or more.) I seemed to remember that she had made a copy, so she looked for it, and sure enough, she had made one. When she placed it on the counter, she had a sweet smile on her face, and I asked her, “Do you normally make copies of this?” She said, “No.” I said, “Well, God was taking care of it wasn’t He?” She just smiled again as I left.

“Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him”…what else can we do in this life to keep us moving forward? The things of life are not always easy, that’s why the Bible is full of ways to help get us through the tough stuff, to help us not feel so alone in it, and to let us know that through it all, God does love us. He has not abandoned us, and there is Hope!

Dwight L. Moody wrote:

“I think it takes a great deal more grace to suffer God’s will than it does to do God’s will. If a person lies in a bed of sickness and suffers cheerfully and is putting hope to practice, that person is as acceptable to God as if they were out working in His vineyard.”

This makes me think of a woman I know who is awaiting word from her doctor after many extensive tests have been done. Each time she gets ready to go hear the results, she is told the doctor is out. He has a fever, he won’t be in today. Come back after the weekend, and then on Monday she’s told, come back tomorrow. As this woman wrestles with the emotions we all would be feeling, the wonderings and the thoughts of those in her family who have already succumbed to illnesses and what might be in store for her…I think how much easier it is sometimes to go out and do God’s will, than it is for her to suffer God’s will of waiting right now as the Refiner’s fire burns away the chaff that might be there in her life. She has been offered other ways to speed this process up, but her answer is, “No, God has me waiting for a reason.” That’s suffering cheerfully and putting hope into practice—even if the smiles disappear, her “work” is acceptable to God as she suffers while resting in His grace.

It seems lately God is teaching me about Paul’s teaching, “boasting about his weakness.” But I wonder, “Lord, what’s the difference between boasting about our weaknesses and complaining about our lives?” I haven’t as yet gotten a clear answer about that, but I do know that last night as I went to bed, dealing with my own health issues, I was feeling like a scared child…and I thought about how that’s okay with our Father in Heaven. When we admit our fears to Him we’re not telling Him anything He doesn’t already know, and what He really wants us to know through it all is that we’re welcome to curl up with Him and He will comfort us. He comforted me last night, as I drew close to Him in my weakness. “Boasting about our weakness”—admitting we can’t, but God can.

O Lord, I am calling to you.
Please hurry!
Listen when I cry to you for help!
Psalm 141:1 (NLT)

We don’t need big tragedies in life to draw us close to God. Our every day can do that for us, because our every day can be a real challenge. Sometimes, sure, we’ll have tougher stuff to deal with, health issues, grief, job challenges, teenagers that aren’t communicating, but hopefully most days we’re just doing life…and dealing with the busyness of it that starts to wear us down and leads us to our Father’s arms for some comforting reassurances that everything will be all right.

Sometimes, the doctor doesn’t call us right back, and sometimes when he does, the test results aren’t good. And sometimes our work day was hard, or the kids were fussy, or the car broke down, or we had a fight with our friend...but most times, the things we have to go through help us to know that we are weak and that we’re not meant to live on this earth without the help of our Father in Heaven, without His Words of instruction. What we’re supposed to do is set our “sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power.” (Colossians 3:1 NLT)

If we’re setting our sights on this world, on our job to be perfect, on our friend to apologize, on the kids to stop crying, or even for the phone to ring and our doctor to be on the other end offering us words of comfort and understanding, telling us to come right in and everything will be done just the way we’d like it to be…then we’ll probably be disappointed in this life. Doctors probably aren’t taught in medical school how to “love their patients as themselves”…just as we’re not taught how to really love one another in the schools we went to…that lesson is taught to us by the Greatest Teacher of all, Jesus Christ.

Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves
you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness,
humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for
each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you.
Colossians 3:12-13 (NLT)

Our Father is tenderhearted, caring and forgiving at all times, but we’re not. Many times we’ll try to operate without the Holy Spirit’s power and then when life gets frustrating, or we are called to wait, we can get angry and impatient and scared and feel forgotten by those who we think should care for us more. But with the Holy Spirit guiding our every step, we can at least know that Someone understands our uniqueness; that we’re not just a case number to our Father. He knows what’s best for us. He listens to our every thought and loves us with an unconditional love.

I don’t know about your life on this day, but I needed God’s guidance to keep me from falling into the pit that the devil had set before me…I was on the path leading to fear and feeling alone and abandoned by those who I sought help from. I understand now why my Father instructed me to “Write” today, so that I would again be reminded that He is always with me… When we call on God to help us, our thoughts can begin to rest in His Words of Truth for our answer. Our Father’s care can be immediate; we don’t have to wait out the weekend or for Him to get back from His day off…as impatient children, God knows we like that!

Until we meet again after surgery,

Diane
(Surgery was performed on Jan. 31st, I’m on the mend now and all is well!)