Saturday, November 28, 2009

Painful Year

To say that this last year has been my most challenging year of my life is an understatement. There have been many painful experiences along with enriching growth. The pain can be put in perspective. I think of what the Lord endured and my experience pales to insignificance. The Apostle Paul is another reference and he describes his experience as “light and momentary” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Then there is Joni Erickson Tada. She is a contemporary inspiration and reference point. I can’t imagine living for over 40 years in a quadriplegic body. My pain pales to insignificance compared to hers.

Yes, there have been many pains: 3 surgeries, plus recovery/ Currently I experience constant tiredness. I am walking better but my legs are still weak and my new set of wheels, a wheelchair is humbling. Leading, shepherding, teaching, preaching have been the love of my life. Pastoring for over 35 years has been a wonderfully fulfilling calling and to not be able to engage in pastoral ministry and be available to help people is painful. When I tried to go back to teaching at Gloucester County College but had to back out due to lack of energy and strength, it was painful. My college teaching was to be my only source of income after September but providentially, that same week, Social Security awarded me disability. We trust that it will be sufficient.

I still believe God has great plans for Southwood. My goal is to continue to do all I can to contribute to Southwood’s ongoing health and prepare for Southwood’s new senior pastor.

I commend to you the book, When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada, especially Appendix B: Scripture on God’s Purpose in Our Sufferings. [Amazon Link]

In all these aspects, There are some predominant lessons:
1, Suffering has a way of stripping away the superficial and leading you to the sole sufficiency of Jesus Christ in your life. I can’t say that I fully embrace with joy the brain tumor but I am getting there. Amidst the pain the reality of God’s sufficiency has grown deeper and I am grateful.

Paul’s attitude is a huge encouragement to me.
(2 Cor 4:7-15) But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. {8} We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; {9} persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. {10} We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. {11} For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. {12} So then, death is at work ign us, but life is at work in you. {13} It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, {14} because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. {15} All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Over the last few days, my leg strength seems to be better. Ihave been able to walk across the parking lot on my own and have not had any leg collapses. Even though I am perpetually tired, I seem to be more productive. I cannot thank God enough for Dottie’s care for me. I couldn’t function without her.

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