Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 29, 2009
Pain can be the pathway to spiritual healing
While miracles can happen, God the potter often keeps our flaws
My Glass is Half Full
By MARK PICKUP
There are opportunities to serve God in every situation in which we find ourselves. We may have to look for the opportunities but even the most mundane of circumstances can provide opportunities to serve God or humanity in the Lord's name.
No circumstances are too small or too big that we are unable to be of service to the kingdom of God.
Mother Teresa said this: "It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving."
If you are a police officer, a firefighter, a bookkeeper or a janitor, remember that God desires that we be peaceful, safe and orderly. Give your vocation your best as though you are doing your job for God, not just the salary. Offer your work to God's service.
Simple housework or making supper for your family can be offered up to God.
When I take my grandchildren to a playground, invariably I encounter a frazzled parent of an energetic pre-schooler. I try to encourage them through conversation. Sometimes they want to "vent" and so I practise my listening skills.
Even in degenerative disability, many opportunities for service arise. They come in the oddest forms and at the oddest times. I know in my heart they are not random - God sends me the opportunities to serve him by serving people.
About 15 years ago, I was asked to visit a young man who had a terrible version of the disease I suffer from: multiple sclerosis. His name was Derek. Back then, there were no effective drugs to stop or slow the progress of MS.
Derek's career as an engineer was destroyed just as it was beginning. His wife left him. I found Derek wheelchair-bound in a dingy apartment. He wanted to die.
He allowed me to enter his anguished reality because our common disease gave me entrance into his world. My wheelchair and pain spoke to his pain.
I was able to tell him with authority: "Derek, we are not alone in this fire. There is another with us. Jesus Christ is here. I feel his presence."
Derek looked at me through blood-shot eyes, tears streaming down his cheeks, and he said, "He is? I don't feel him."
Of course he didn't. His shock was too new; his pain and sorrow were too fresh. He felt deserted by God, but that did not mean his perception was accurate. It's impossible to see clearly when tears blur your vision.
Derek was a terrified and frantic man. His wild desperation made him incapable of receiving comfort from the Comforter.
Derek reminded me of a hungry infant so ravenous and upset it will not accept the bottle of milk at its lips.
He could not be helped because he was too frantic for assistance. Derek was like a drowning man wildly flailing, clutching, kicking and grabbing.
Derek would not accept God without divine physical deliverance from multiple sclerosis. He wanted nothing other than his old life back.
He only wanted God on Derek's terms, not God's terms.
The spiritual stakes of Derek's grief were horribly high. With time he would either surrender his predicament to the will of God's wisdom or he would rebel and become bitter and angry.
After Derek's panic and shock subsided from acquiring a catastrophic disease and losing his wife and career, he would have the opportunity to ask (not demand) "Why?"
Only in surrender do we become pliable in the hands of God. He is the potter; we are the clay. Only in surrender to the will of God can we discover the reason for which we were created.
Rebellion spawns disdain for the reason we were created. At the core of the human soul rests a desire to love perfectly and to be loved perfectly. That is only possible by knowing Christ. Only in Christ are we able to receive perfect love and begin to love perfectly. This is the reason we were created.
Was Derek ever delivered from his multiple sclerosis? I don't know, I did not see him again.
Miracles happen. But by the nature of miracles, they are rare. Jesus cured one paralytic at the pool of Bethesda. The Gospel account leaves us to conclude many others were left uncured. More often than not people need adversity or pain in order to discover their abject need for God.
C.S. Lewis said, "God whispers in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world." Many of us need to remain uncured of physical affliction in order to be roused to God's call for spiritual healing.
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