Most of you know that I've just concluded a sixth surgery in three years. Surgery has become my middle name it seems. Many of you have called or written to encourage and tell of praying for me. Appreciated is the word from me to you.
I will admit that along the way the comments about it all have proven interesting. Among all the very caring and concerned comments there were a few, only a few, that gave me pause. It seems there are those out there who seem to assume that healing is our divine right if we'll just trust more or get more people praying. It's almost as if the NUMBER praying adds weight to an assurance that God will do so...heal that is. [I guess if I had, in fact, died on the operating table it would have been a testament to a total lack of faith or prayer.]
It is a given that so long as we're here bound to our "earth-suit" as Bill Gillham calls our body, there will be pain. The presence of sin is the basic reason for the presence of pain for sure, but, there could be other reasons for pain that we'll miss if we're not careful with our Western mindset as Christians.
In one of my blog post of long ago I wrote these words.."Someone has said that christians are the living stones of the true Temple God is preparing for eternity. That preparation, while for eternity, is done here during our sojourn on this earth. Rugged and shapeless the stones are at the beginning. But the hammer and chisel do their work. And, because these stones are living, there is always pain associated with the process." The end result is a life that fulfills His purpose NOT in spite of the presence of pain but BECAUSE of the presence of pain.
When I write this way I'm always aware that too much of the time, people have assumed that since Jesus came to give us" life and life abundantly" the presence of any pain is indication we're missing out on life. This, of course, is both sad and unscriptural. Jesus said "I've come that you might have life and life abundantly." But that "life" is not "bios" [life] but "Zoe." [Life] The difference is, one [bios] is simply the cataloging of events, [biography] while the other is an inner quality of life independent of ANY AND ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. The failure to recognize this may be the reason the Church of the third world may well know more of the power of God in their lives than does the western Church. It takes God's power to live life to it's fullest when the things around you are so painful and there is little worth celebrating. But it may be that such a painful backdrop is what will reveal whether it is "Zoe" one is living, as opposed to "Bios," which doesn't take Jesus to live at all.
Pleasure and comfort in life are not sinful. Don't hear me saying that at all. Do hear me say they may be the enemy of the best in life if we define life in their terms instead of the biblical terms of suffering. It is there [in suffering] His power is made perfect and true life can be lived beyond the circumstances that confound and confuse so many in these violent and hurtful times.
So, we can rest in His providence. If His providence brings pleasure....we shall enjoy it. If His providence brings pain....we shall embrace it. But He does not work without pattern or design. That whether pain or pleasure or a mixture of the two.
My good friend Bob Cleveland wrote me this yesterday and has become my closing illustration of it all.......Bob said..
"Had to see my family doc for followup on the liver enzymes, this past Tuesday. He said maybe we should repeat the CAT scan they did 12/2, just to see how all those enlarged lymph nodes and that shadow by the appendix are doing. Yesterday he calls and says the shadow looks like an "appendiceal mucousele" and I need to see a surgeon. And oh, by the way, you have a small abdominal aorta aneurysm; normal is 2cm, you're 3cm, we start talking surgery at 5cm so not to worry. He did concede, however, that the fact that my mother died of a ruptured abdominal aneurysm migh be somewhat disquieting for me.
Surgeon calls and says we had a cancellation so I saw him yesterday afternoon. He says yep, the appendix thing isn't dangerous but could be if we leave it there so let's get on with surgery. Well, that's fine but I'm on Plavix for the stent they put in last April so I need to be off that for 5 days before they'll carve on the body, so need clearance from the cardiologist for that.
They called him right then and guess what .. he had a cancellation .. so I see him at 11:45 this morning."
It is that final "WhoopEEEEEEEEE" that I'm talking about.