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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

When Unexpected Illness Intrudes.

Last Saturday when I took my wife Tricia to the ER, Jesus gave me the following verse early in the morning:

"He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD."
Little did I know bad news was fixin' to show up at my doorstep in a few hours. God gave me a heads-up. Hindsight let me realize it. I'm grateful.

The entire week prior I was texting Scriptures on trusting God to Tricia, my kids, and a few others I have committed to. Here was another one one:

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever for the LORD God is an everlasting rock."
It seems God was laying spiritual groundwork for what we are going through now. He was saying illness was about to forcefully intrude and I must stay focused on trusting him period. He would get us through no matter the outcome.

Tricia and I have been interrupted by illness many times in our life together, whether it was with our kids, our parents, or ourselves. We commented on the number of hospital stays we have had over the years. Each time it happens I'm always reminded of how intrusive they are. Normal life radically interrupts. The focus switches from getting on with things to stopping and getting better.

Here are some patterns I notice:

1. Because we have been self-employed for most of our lives together, when illness interrupts, work is interrupted and we experience financial stress sometimes lasting well beyond the actual illness. Chaos intrudes.

2. Fear always tries to settle in and make things worse. Worry wants to take hold and drag us into despair or doubting God's attention, power to deliver, and goodness toward us.

3. I really hate watching those I love suffer. I passionately death in all its forms. I wish I could take their suffering and bear it for them.

4. The rhythms of illness, care-giving and recuperation take center stage until healing is complete. There's no getting around it. You just have to get through. Waiting seems to be a common feature with illness: waiting for news of what is happening and what needs to be done to get better. Waiting for test results. Waiting for docs to weigh-in. Waiting for healing and recovery to take place.

5. The depth of my love for the people God grants me to share life with is manifested in ways different from other seasons and activities of life. It reminds me how much I love and appreciate them.

6. Illness brings out the best in people who interrupt their daily lives to pray, show up at the hospital, take care of needs and offer all sorts of support. Church happens.

7. God demonstrates his faithfulness in ways distinct from ordinary life. It seems his Presence manifests in remarkably revealing a creativity and breadth of resourcefulness I don't often notice in other areas of my life. I always have stories to tell of what God did in our weakest moments. Sometimes they are breath-taking.

Illness will always feel an enemy to me. It steals time, money and strength from us. But God shows up to confront this enemy on our behalf. Illness and injury cause life to take unexpected turns which we must endure as God walks us through them. He has the way forward.

In the end, I have seen healing and care. I've also seen death result. All of it can beckon us to see the need for fundamental change whether it's slowing down, taking better care of ourselves, or appreciating our seasons of "normalcy."

I would rather not go through these intrusions, but I have and will again. May they keep me nearer Jesus and those who are gifts to me beyond understanding.

Now its back to the hospital and my beloved.
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