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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close (Psalm 27:10)”.

Francis Phelan is a bum. That’s what he calls himself and his comrades on the streets of Albany, New York. Today, we call people like Francis homeless.

Francis is the lead character in the book “Ironweed” by William Kennedy. The book won a Pulitzer Prize.

In addition, the story was made into a movie by the same name. Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep were both nominated for Academy Awards for their roles as Francis and his girlfriend Helen.

The story is a moving and troubling one. It’s 1939 and Francis has been running from his past since 1910, when he dropped his infant son, resulting in his death.

His life had once been promising. Francis had even played Major League baseball.

Now he goes from place to place in Albany, trying to find a place to sleep for himself and Helen. Francis scrounges a dollar  or two out of odd jobs mainly to buy booze.

Helen is seemingly the more responsible of the two. She is better with money anyway, and chastizes Francis for his free ways with a buck.

Yet, she is also haunted by her past. Helen came from a good family and appeared to have a career as a singer or pianist in view.

However, she was eventually abandoned by her married piano teacher, a man who also seduced her. Helen, like Francis, ended up on the street.

“Ironweed” portrays the plight of the homeless from day to day. If it is true, as F. Scott Fitgerald wrote, that the rich are not like you and I,  then you could say the same about the homeless.

Out on the streets, it’s open season.  The hobos of Ironweed have a tough existence.

Before he returned to Albany, Francis rode the rails, a common occurrence in the Depression. During one episode in a boxcar, a man who admires his shoes tells Francis”I’m gonna cut off your feet” and proceeds to go after him with a meat cleaver.

Helen has her purse snatched on Halloween by a group of masked urchins. She had what amounted to her life savings in the bag -15 dollars.

Helen also suffers indignities no woman should have to face. Francis, seeking a place for her to sleep, puts her up in a car with a bum who spends his nights in an old wreck of a car.

Francis knows Helen will have to do more for the man than just be pleasant. However, in his mind he doesn’t have many options for her.

Both Francis and Helen are subject to incidents of mental illness. Francis hallucinates that the men he has killed in his travels, including the meat cleaver bearer, are in his presence taunting him.

Helen is invited to sing at a gin house by the bartender, a former renouned singer himself. As she sings, she imagines the audience is hailing her performance with cheers and great applause.

The truth is, when she finishes, Helen receives a mild clap or two. She idly leaves the stage with a sense of disappointment.

The life of the bum includes poverty, crime, mental disability and addictions. A good many of us have never experienced lives like those of Francis or Helen and can’t imagine having to live that way. However, in our current times  having to scramble hour after hour to exist isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.

It’s not just the extremists and conspiracy theorists who are warning of potential economic collapse. Every day, I read some report in which a reputable government official or business  person  is decrying the state of the world economy and hinting at a future of economic hardhsip at least as difficult as the Depression.

I’ve never been homeless or extremely poor, although I’ve come close a time or two. It is a hopeless and powerless place to be.

At times I have been  poor enough not to be able to afford health coverage for my family, but with enough income to not be eligible for assistance from the government. During one of those periods, it was extremely frustrating to not be able to find medical care for a sick daughter at a free clinic because we didn’t live in the county offering it. (Our county was next door and didn’t offer such a service.)

When you are homeless and in poverty, or close to it, you feel abandoned. And you are to some degree.

In once scene from “Ironweed”, a drunken woman is sick and drunk outside a city mission. The preacher who runs it is a good man, but he refuses to  take people who are not sober in over night.

Francis tries to help her, but he is powerless except to ask for a blanket and some soup for the woman from the mission. When he returns, he and Helen find her being eaten by wild dogs.

The Bible describes such happenings. People in dire straits are subject to the attack of wild animals (Psalm 79:1-2).

Sometimes the predators are human.  Jesus desribed them as “dogs” (Psalm 22:16).”  Wild beasts of all varieties are out there who would like nothing better to make a feast of some vulnerable person on the street.

We may not have the greatest digs in the world, and might even end up homeless, but the person who follows Jesus can know one thing: they have not been abandoned.

In fact, every day we can live, at least spiritually, in a mansion. The Psalmist wrote:

“One thing I ask from the LORD,
   this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
   all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD
   and to seek him in his temple. 
For in the day of trouble
   he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
   and set me high upon a rock.

  Then my head will be exalted
   above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
   I will sing and make music to the LORD. (Psalm 27:4-6)”

Governments, corporations and corrupt people may try to take away our dignity. That’s impossible though because the source of our self respect is in our relationship with God.

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“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it (I Corinthians 10:11-13).”

This weekend I’ve encountered the lives of three people. The most charitable word I could use for their sojourns on this planet would be “dysfunctional”.

I didn’ t meet these folks personally while taking a walk around the lake  or supping tea at Galleria. Nope. I met them in the movies and in a book.

The first person I ran into is well known. In fact, his name is synonymous with evil: Adolph Hitler.

I was familiar with the German-language movie about him called “Downfall”. The film is about his last days in a bunker in Berlin during World War II, and I knew of it because of the postings on You Tube in which his German rants are given subtitles in other languages.

In these diatribes, Hitler is raging against the news about his sports teams. They’re quite funny.

The true story is not so humorous. In his underground headquarters, Hitler demonstrates that he has lost touch with reality.

For example, the dictator insists that certain army groups perform maneuvers to save Berlin and defeat the attacking Russian forces.  All his generals know that these armies do not exist anymore, at least as functional entities, but Hitler is not convinced.

In addition, he muses with Albert Speer, his beloved architect, about the future plans for Berlin. While his own bunker is getting shelled, he views a gradiose model of the city and discusses what will happen after he defeats the Russians who are encircling him as he speaks.

The other character I met this weekend is less well known, but he is a national hero in Finland where I live at the moment. I am speaking of Matti Nykänen.

In the 1980s he was an icon here. Nykänen was a highly acclaimed ski jumper who won numerous Olympic medals (including several gold) and world championships.

As the movie “Matti” shows, he is able to exhibit amazing discipline and skill as he skis down a long ramp into the sky. However, the ski jumper is less adept at controlling himself.

Matti is a boozing, lying, woman-chasing horn dog. Because of his heroics, the authorities look the other way when he gets into trouble and thus aid and abet his dysfunction.

Matti is also a wife-beating jerk.  The movie shows two of his marriages (he has been married four times), and displays the rage he manifests within them.

Nykänen hits rock bottom when due to financial indebteness, he becomes a male stripper. Even he understands this is beneath his dignity, but he is too weak of a personality to get himself out from under the mess which his codependent manager and mate Nick Nevada has gotten him into.

Matti is finally rescued by a woman named Mervi Tapola, a millionaire who eventually marries him. She is as dyfunctional as he is and they make a match.

As I write this,  Nykänen is preparing to enter jail for at least the third time on a charge of abusing Mervi. He has become a national embarrassment.

The third party I met up with this weekend was a man from the Bible called Lot. This fellow’s problem is described in the pages of the Life Recovery Bible:

“Many people in this world live for wealth, comfort, and the easy life. And they want to get it as quickly as possible! To make this happen, they often sacrifice the really important things in life. This was true in the life of Abraham’s nephew Lot. Looking for  the easy road to wealth and comfort, he made decisions that ended up destroying everything he had lived for.”

The Life Recovery Bible notes several examples of the selfish choices Lot made. First, he chose the rich lands of Sodom and left his godly uncle Abraham the rugged hills to live in.  Second, he was willing to give his daughters over to a lecherous Sodomite mob when they demanded he send out some angels when they were visiting Lot at his house.

What makes Lot particularly interesting is that despite these flaws he was cited as a just and righteous man by the apostle Peter (Life Recovery Bible). God spared him from the punishment he inflicted on wicked Sodom (II Peter 2:7,8).

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Even Adolph Hitler occasionally demontrated a soft side.

The movie “Downfall” is based on the account of his secretary Traudl Junge. She said of Hitler:

“I admit, I was fascinated by Adolf Hitler. He was a pleasant boss and a fatherly friend. I deliberately ignored all the warning voices inside me and enjoyed the time by his side almost until the bitter end. It wasn’t what he said, but the way he said things and how he did things.” (Wikipedia/Traudl Junge)

However, it is not so easy to find a positive side to Matti Nykänen. One must read between the lines.

Finnish sports reporter Kari Merilä calls him a “sports hero and a soap opera in the same package”.  In truth, Matti does have to be given credit for his amazing ski jumping accomplishments. It is a difficult sport to master.

The movie shows that Matti does have a soft side. For example, he visits a paralyzed child in the hospital and seeks to comfort him.

Barney Ronay of “The Guardian” says of Matti:

If Nykänen has a redeeming feature, though, it is his enduring, almost unbelievable, popularity. The Finns don’t just tolerate him fitfully. They really, actually seem to like him. “He’s a simple sporting character really,” Peltola (a Finnish reporter)  sighs. “He’s a lovable guy, a friendly guy – always in a good mood. And as a ski-jumping legend, he will always have a place in Finnish hearts.

If we humans, even those as dyfunctional as Adolph Hitler and Matti Nykänen, have the capacity for good, why is it we fail so often? I think Hitler and Nykänen show that part of the problem is that we  have huge blind spots.

The Bible documents a story of a people called the Jebusites whose inability to account for their blindness in some areas led to their defeat. The story tells of how David overcame them and took their city for himself:

The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, “You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.” They thought, “David cannot get in here.” Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion—which is the City of David.  On that day David had said, “Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft to reach those ‘lame and blind’ who are David’s enemies.]” That is why they say, “The ‘blind and lame’ will not enter the palace.” (II Samuel 5:6-8).

Matthew Henry believes the reference to the “blind and lame” concerns idolatrous images which the Jebusites trusted for protection, noting that David had used similar terms to describe false gods.  Henry even surmises that the Jebusites put the disabled, the “blind and the lame” on their walls of their strong fortress to mock David.

As this story notes, David used a tunnel which the Jebusites used to access water outside the fortress, to defeat them.  It was a blind spot in their thinking.

We Christians have our own spiritual blind spots. I know I do.

I fail to account for areas of my life where I can easily be defeated. Satan is more than happy to fill in my spiritual field of vision and blind me so I am not aware of them.

This means I have to make a conscious effort to protect myself. This work involves being aware of my spiritual, physical, mental and emotional state at all times so I can do that.

I am grateful for the examples of what can happen to people who don’t protect themselves. The Helsinki Sanomat newspaper says of Matti Nykänen:

Contrary to the heroes of traditional tales, Nykänen has no mission, no clear goal which would end the story once it is reached. He is also no prodigal son, as he does not learn from his mistakes.

Thankfully, unlike Matti I do have a goal in the coming year, which is take care of my health in all areas, including spiritually. My error has been in not dealing with my blind spots.

Hopefully, after this weekend I have learned my lesson.

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“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well (3 John 1:2).”

“The cowards never started

The weak died on the way

Only the strong arrived

They were pioneers.”

In the movie “About Schmidt”,  Warren Schmidt is reflecting on his life after visiting a memorial arch to the people who crossed Nebraska to settle the west. Among the other exhibits is a sign with the above quotation.

At the close of the move Schmidt, played by the indubitably great Jack Nicholson, is driving home in his RV from his daughter’s wedding in Denver to Omaha. He went to Denver, not to attend the wedding, but to try to convince his old maid daughter not to marry the loser she intends to wed.

His thoughts are recorded in a letter to a foster child he sponsors in Tanzania.

Dear Ndugu,

You’ll be glad to know that Jeannie’s wedding came off without a hitch. Right now, she and Randall are on their way to sunny Orlando,  on my nickle, of course. As for me, I’m headed back to Omaha. I’m driving straight through this time, and I’ve made only one stop. The impressive new arch over the interstate in Corney, Nebraska. An arch that commemorates the courage and determination of  the pionneers who crossed the state on their way west. You’ve really got to see it to believe it. And it… kind of got me thinking,  looking at all that history and, reflecting on the achievement of people long ago kind of put things into perspective. My trip to Denver, for instance is so insignificant compared to the journeys that others have taken, the bravery that they have shown,  the hardships they’ve endured. I know we are all pretty small in the big scheme of things. And I supposed the most you can hope for  is to make some kind of difference. What… what kind of difference have I made ? What in the world is better because of me ? When I was out in Denver, I tried to do the right thing,  tried to convince Jeannie, she was…making a big mistake but…I failed. Now she is married to that nincompoop and there is nothing I can do about it. I am… weak. And I am a failure. There is just no getting around it. Relatively soon, I will die. Maybe in 20 years… maybe tomorrow… It doesn’t matter.Once I am dead, and everyone who knew me dies too, a little, it will be as though I never even existed. What difference has my life made to anyone ? None that I can think of. None… at all.  I hope things are fine with you.

Yours truly,

Warren Schmidt

Warren has had a tough time of it. He has recently retired, his wife  has died, and his sense of purpose has dried up.

One day he sat at home watching TV and saw an ad for the support of African orphans. Warren is moved (and a little bored), and writes a check.

Throughout the movie he poors out his adult thoughts in letters to a six-year old boy. As a woman whom he met at an RV park told him, Warren is sad, lonely and even angry.

Warren, however, has sold himself short. In the movie, despite a few quite human mistakes, he proves his character.

He calls a close friend to tell the man he forgives him for an affair he has discovered his wife was having with him 30 years before. During the wedding reception, he compliments his daughter’s new husband and is completely gracious in a speech he gives.

Even the attempt to strongly dissuade his daughter from marrying is an act of courage. He endures her abuse and anger for his efforts.

Yet, he tried to save her from herself. It is she who has made the choice.

Unbeknownst to Warren, the transparent letters he has been writing to Ndugu have worked a healing he did not know about. As he walks in his office after arriving home, he opens a letter from Tanzania.

It is written by a nun and conveys Ndugu’s pleasure in receiving Warren’s letters. Ndugu wishes his friend a good life and health, and although he can neither read nor right, he has enclosed a “painting”.

The drawing shows a picture of two figures, one adult and the other a child, standing in front of a huge sun ball. They are reaching toward each other and grasping one another’s hand.

Warren begins to cry, then smiles.  Nicholson perfectly captures Warren’s emotions and own healing at that point. The movie ends, since there is nothing more to be shown or said.

Early in his own suffering, Job felt as Warren did. He wanted God to kill him. Furthermore, like Warren he considered himself too weak to go on:

“But I do not have the strength to endure. I do not have a goal that encourages me to carry on. Do I have strength as hard as stone? Is my body made of bronze? No, I am utterly helpless, without any chance of success.” (Job 6:11-13, New Living Translation)

Even great athletes sometimes get discouraged when things go wrong. Peyton Manning, the stellar quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts , got very upset when he was recently disabled by neck surgery.

Manning had played in over 200 consecutive games and was a football “Iron Man”. Without him, his team is floundering.

“I walked around for a while angry, in a bad mood. … ‘Woe is me,'” Manning told The Indianapolis Star on Friday. “I’ve gotten over that. It doesn’t do any good. I’m learning to deal with it and trying to have a good attitude. I’m not walking around looking for any pity party.” (from NFL.com)

What seems to be helping Manning is that he does indeed have a goal:

“I do hope to get healthy, and when I’m healthy and cleared to play, I want to be out there,” Manning said. “This is new to me.”

Health is a great goal. I have determined that this is my aim for the coming year as well.

This summer as I sat in the midst of a group of pastors, elders and a pastoral intern, the latter of all people made the most poignant statement about what my objective should be.  To paraphrase, he said I needed to do the things that lead to health.

At the time of that meeting, different areas of my life were in poor condition. One of the unsound aspects has led me away from my family in the coming year.  This intern’s comments, brief and almost drowned in the statements of the others in the room, were the most significant of all.

What will give meaning to my life in the coming months is to get healthy: physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, financially. The list could go on.

With this end in mind, I hope to give my life new energy. When I reach my aims, I want God to be up there like the Spanish language broadcaster who, after a score in a soccer match, yells into the micophone:

“GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!”

I suspect He will. I bet I’ll get a letter or a postcard from God that heals my soul.

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“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead (Phillipians 3:7,10).”

Today I was watching an episode of one of my favorite TV programs on the Internet and the network hosting it kept replaying the same commercial. It asked the viewer what they have found to be amazing.

Their clips included things like whales jumping through the ocean, and newborn babies. When I tried to answer the question, attempting to come up with images in my own mind, I drew a blank.

 This really concerns me. I am wondering why there is no “Wow” factor for me. I am questioning why my emotions are so dead.

Don’t get me wrong. I occasionally get teary-eyed over some things: an event involving a loved one, or a poignant drama, for example.

But I don’t get “wowed” by much of anything. Am I that much of a cynic?

It has occurred to me that my emotions may be numb because of the poor handling of what the experts call “loss” in my life. I have an article from a long-lost source which gives an expanded definition of “loss”.

Here is the bulk of this piece:

‘Loss’ is the disappearance of something cherished, such as a person, possession or property. The definition of loss also includes “the act or instance of losing; the failure to keep or get something valued; the harm or suffering caused by losing or being lost; losses a.k.a. casualties occurring during wartime; destruction; and a measurable reduction in some substance or process.

 Loss is a common experience common that can be encountered many times during a lifetime; it does not discriminate for age, race, sex, education, economic status, religion, culture or nationality. Most people have experienced some type of personal or professional loss at some point in their life as a byproduct of living.

Losses can be of many different types from the loss of relationship or job, to the loss of breast or limb, to the loss of mental faculties or health, to the loss of control over nature or life events or the ultimate loss through death. There are also many losses that occur as part of medicine. People are diagnosed with life-changing conditions or life-threatening diseases or terminal illnesses. They also may undergo procedures or surgeries that can cause different types of loss such as the loss of a limb or breast, the loss of mobility or the loss of the ability to eat. People may receive sudden bad news from physician, law enforcement, military personnel or clergy about unexpected loss of a loved one.

There are also losses that are never publicly announced or acknowledged such as with a miscarriage or abortion, death of a relative by suicide or various types of physical or emotional abuse. Instead of being able to grieve in a public manner, the person endures very private sorrows that can impact his/her health and well being.

I personally have experienced several types of losses described above. Most recently, I quit my job, tried to get it back, and then was basically told ‘no’.

I wasn’t technically fired. However, emotionally it is the same to me. I may have been anyway had I continued there.

In the last decade, I have quit some other jobs. They began hopefully, yet ended badly.

In a couple of them, I saw the handwriting on the wall. I was either going to get fired or laid off, so I left.

In the last decade I have also had other losses. I have lost a home, lost my father to death, and encountered life-altering health problems personally and with members of my family.

My most recent job loss has me looking in the mirror, since it was inability to control my temper which led to it. I have had a long, hard look and have seen the need to and method for change.

The experience has stirred some emotions in me, mostly shame and guilt. However, the one feeling I need to experience has escaped me, as it has with my other losses.

I am talking about “grief”. According to the same article above, grief is the normal response to “loss”.

Here’s what happens if one doesn’t grieve, according to this forgotten author:

Grief is the normal response to loss. Loss and the resulting grief response frequently affect a person’s mental and behavioral wellness. Repressed, unrecognized or unresolved grief can cause personal anguish, increased anxiety, multiple physical complaints, functional impairment, strained relationships, marital discord, disrupted sleep, impaired childhood, increased substance abuse–tobacco, alcohol, drugs, tranquilizers; clinical depression, and an increased mortality from heart disease and suicide.

I have experienced almost all of these symptoms of unresolved grief, except gratefully, I haven’t resorted to substance abuse. I wouldn’t be surprised if my leukemia, which is a disease that originates in the bone marrow, is the result of being incapable of dealing with my losses.

The wise man of Proverbs wrote, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22).” Indeed, perhaps my repressed grief led to a major surgery a year and a half ago.

It was one of my medical “losses”. I fell down a hill and heard something snap.

It turned out to be the bones in my ankle -three of them in fact. They were probably too weak to handle the impact.  My crushed spirit led to my crushed bones.

A failure to feel is a sad state of affairs. The wise man of Proverbs also wrote,”The human spirit can endure in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear (Proverbs 18:14)?”

Indeed, my emotional state has been far worse than the broken ankle bones. At least they have healed.

However, I have hope for the healing of my crushed spirit because the apostle Paul found the solution to it. He learned that neither performing, nor shame, nor guilt was  going to get him or anyone else out of his funk.

Writing to the Corinthians, he described the Israelites as having dull hearts. There hearts were veiled from God’s truth.

Paul told the people of Corinth that only Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit can take away this dull spirit, (II Corinthians 3:12-18, II Corinthians 4:6). Paul said that because we have the Spirit of Christ in our hearts, although it may not feel like it, God is “renewing us day by day” (II Corinthians 4:16).

My aforementioned article on loss quotes Elaine Childs-Gowell regarding the necessity of grieving over losses:

Whatever it is that I have lost (or must give up) I must grieve. If I do not do my grieving about the old hurts and insults, then, when I am faced with a here and now grief experience, I will end up having to dredge up all that old energy along with the current experience.

Ms. Childs-Gowell is correct in my view. We have to face our losses and sorrow over them to begin to heal.

We need to do this as we experience them.  The energy needed to deal with  cumulative  losses is too much for anyone to bear without doing this.

However, grieving is only the beginning of the healing process. Paul said he was “hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair (II Corinthians 4:8)”; how could he say this?

It is because Paul had a view of life beyond this earthly one. To heal, we have to look at the eternal.

The more Paul experienced loss, the more he died and Jesus lived in Him. That’s my goal, too. I want to taste the life of Jesus in me so I will focus on what’s coming, my resurrection.

If I didn’t have anything to be amazed about before, I do now. What could be more amazing than to be resurrected from the dead, in this life and the next!

 I can’t perform or feel or think my way out of a funk in my emotions to get a sense of wonder.. Only experiencing the resurrection power of Jesus through faith in Him will heal my crushed spirit and give me the ability to say: “Wow!”

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“…The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. Anyone who is among the living has hope  —even a live dog is better off than a dead lion (Ecclesiastes 9:3,4)!”

Where does one go when they are sick, disabled or depressed?  For most Americans, the answer is “the doctor”.

I for one have chosen this course.  I use medication to, as one friend calls it, “level the playing field” so that some long term issues do not control my behavior.

Of late though, I have been unable to take my meds because of financial reasons. They’re just to blamin’ expensive.

As a result, some of my old not-so-nice ways of conducting myself have surfaced. Especially, they have come to the fore at work, which has made life extremely uncomfortable for some of my colleagues.

I see the value in my medication. However, many oppose their use.

Some think they are unhealthy. Others believe that we should “just let Jesus do it”.

There was a man once who did just that. He followed Jesus’s directions and was healed of blindness which he had dealt with since birth (John 9:6-7).

This man’s method of gaining healing for himself didn’t set well with some folks in their religion-based society, and an argument ensued. “Why, this man who supposedly healed the blind fellow is a sinner.  Didn’t happen.”

Others said,”Come on. How could a sinner heal this man? The man who did it must be from God.” Extroardnarily, others went so far to say that the whole incident was a hoax (John 9:13-19)!

That the man received his sight was a reason for rejoicing. However, what was more important was why this man even needed a miracle to be able to see again.

Jesus said the man’s blindness “happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life”(John 9:3).  The blind man suffered so that God could be revealed!

Last night, off my meds, I was despairing of ever being able to rid myself of my infirmities. It was a sleepless night as I thought on this.

The healing of the blind man tells me that I have hope in this life. Before he cured the man, Jesus said,”As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world (John 9:4,5).”

Before I despair of life itself, it behooves me to see that Jesus is in the business of taking my problems into his hands and taking care of them.  He wants to help me, and thus show how great He is, so that others will want to come to Him for relief from their own issues.

What a thought! I can actually rejoice in my illness because Jesus plans to show His love and faithfulness through it, and others will be drawn to Him.

 When I pass on, I won’t have to deal with my problems anymore. However, I live on Planet Earth right now. While I am here, I have an opportunity that I won’t have after I die.

 I can let Jesus do His work and be the Light of the World in my life. I’ll just be the lamp.

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Eat, drink and be merry

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).”

After arriving in the American southwest from Europe last week, I had a nice morning sitting outside in the sun.  Then I left for the East Coast.

In the last week I believe I have not seen the sun once.  It has rained a lot of that time.  When you don’t see the sun for a long time, it is easy to get depressed. Having lived in a Nordic country for a number of years, I always saw people start to get depressed as winter set in.

Imagine the attitudes on board a ship caught in a storm blowing hurricane-force winds for two weeks. This what the apostle Paul and his fellow travelers encountered as they headed for Rome, where Paul had a date with Ceasar.  The shipmates got so tense that they stopped eating. Finally, Paul encouraged them to eat (Acts 27:27-37).

How could Paul be so calm in such depressing circumstances?  He had met with God during the catastrophic weather and gotten his encouragement from Him (Acts 27:24).

Bad weather and poor diet can work havoc on our state of mind.  It’s important  during those times to stay tuned in with God.  This will help us  to overcome these circumstances and to keep perspective.  God’s encouragement can settle us down to the point we can eat properly, and we’ll feel much better as a result.

I experienced this today. It was another gloomy day and I had fasted yesterday. But having read about Paul’s experience, I made sure I had a good meal at lunch. My spirits are much higher than they would have been otherwise.

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