Saturday, September 01, 2012

"IF" is a BiG word

8/31/12 Friday
          This pain is not abating any. What a rough night. I got very little sleep as pain kept me up and restless. The need to use the bathroom around midnight was unpleasant to say the least, as were the subsequent 2 other late night and early morning trips. With this intense pain comes a reduction in bladder control so I leaked all the way there. I don’t know if it is a pinched nerve or what but there is a specific position, as I bend slightly, that triggers a wave of pain coupled with muscles freezing up. When it happens I am stuck in that position till it goes away.

          I think I will have to go see the doctor at the VA. Had been putting this off thinking it would ease up and go away. I am aware that the odds are they will not have any quick answers or cures for this and I already am prescribed a powerful pain medication that, while it is a wonderful help for my regular pain, doesn’t do much for this new problem. It’s pretty rough when just putting your boots on, much less tying them, is such a challenge you consider going barefoot in this land of thorns and stickers.

I have a firm belief that God’s hand is in everything and that applies to this situation too. There is a theological debate regarding whether God would personally cause an illness or difficulty and I have a definite opinion regarding that. Whether God caused this pain is irrelevant for I know that He causes all things to work for the good of those He loves. It would be interesting to hear what some will say regarding this bad back but they won’t speak face to face, only in the dark corners where gossip spreads.

As I ponder this it would be a good time to consider the spiritual aspects of bad circumstances. You hear a lot of things expressed anytime problems occur. Some are good and healthy thoughts but some are quite the opposite of that. So why do bad things happen to good people?

There are no easy cut and dried answers for each situation is complex and who can know the mind of God. But there are many principles we should keep in mind, truths that tend to always hold up well. One of them is that we reap what we sow. Part of my back trouble is a direct result of the life I led, having broken it and my neck three separate times. Another principle is that God, being a loving father, will discipline those He loves. Throw into that mix the fact that we live in a fallen world full of all kinds of evil. The concept that God will send a hurricane to punish one person (act of God) doesn’t hold water. However when you read the bible, particularly the old testament, you do find God’s judgment unleashed in some pretty intense ways.

It is unfortunate that people try to remake God into their own image, one of who and what they think God should be. Invariably that god is one that is super nice and lets people get away with doing whatever they want so they have nothing to fear. The problem is that God cannot fit into any kind of box the imagination of man devises. There is the truth and the rest is deception. If the truth is not how you would like things to be that doesn’t change things. Those who purport to be wise and the philosophers of this age may say things like “The truth is relative” or something cute like “What is true for one person is not true for another” but when we stand before God Almighty, the creator of the universe and all life, how we think things should be will fly out the window.

The biggest word in the Bible is “if”. Most of God’s promises have an “if” attached to them. God promises rewards if we do the things that please Him and He promises consequences “if” we are rebellious and do what we know is wrong. One of the scriptures that I hear quoted so many times, and in so many places, is this one found in 2 Chronicles 7.14 “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Most of the time those quoting this leave out the first part, despite the fact that there is only a coma between them so this line is the first part of the sentence. 13 "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people,”

So here we do find natural calamities being brought to the land from God’s hand. It is judgment, and it is not only not pleasant but indeed very painful and even deadly. I have listened as leaders in church quote this with pride, knowing all the while that they are hardening their hearts regarding things they know they should not be doing. It is always dangerous to pull just part of a scripture out and use it without carefully considering the rest of it. I always enjoyed listening to an old radio Icon, Paul Harvey, who, with his unique voice and outlook would present stories that most were somewhat familiar with, at least regarding one aspect of them, and reveal what else had happened behind the scenes with his well recognized and trademarked closing line “And that…is the rest of the story”.

So let me tell you the rest of the story regarding this favorite often quoted scripture. These were the words God spoke to king Solomon right after he had dedicated the magnificent temple built for the Lord. This was the first temple ever built since God had brought the nation of Israel out of the slavery of Egypt generations earlier. It was to house the Ark of the Covenant as well as becoming the central point of worship for the nation to the one and true God.

Solomon had just finished dedicating the temple with hundreds of thousands of animal sacrifices as the whole nation celebrated. After Solomon had prayed God even sent fire down from heaven to burn the initial sacrifice, a convincing sign to say the least. After 14 days of celebration God appeared to him that night. Things were going well, there was peace throughout the land for the first time so there were no famines, droughts, or plagues. However God was saying that if the people would stray from following the truth they know these things would happen. So here was the “if” but it wasn’t the first if nor would it be the last.

          Here is the rest of that scripture “16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. 17 "As for you, if you walk before me as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, 18 I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, 'You shall never fail to have a man to rule over Israel.' 19 "But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples.”

It seems, from my conversations and experience, that most people are greatly impressed with Solomon. “He was wise, he was rich, he was a great king” is the general consensus. After all Solomon wrote many of the proverbs, psalms, and a couple of the books in the Bible. But the cold reality is that Solomon went not only far astray but he led his whole nation astray too. He did this in the same way many of us slip into trouble today, with a little compromise here, another one there, until compromise is an accepted way of doing things and you don’t think about it nor see why it’s a problem. Solomon’s compromise appears to have started with his wives, though I suspect there were issues before that. Each wife came from foreign lands with foreign gods and they brought their idols with them. He allowed them to set up temples to worship them and in the process allowed that corruption into the land, where others would get involved as well.

The question some will have is “Did God cause your pain?” In the course of these conversations there will be hundreds of questions come up. “Why would God do this?” and of course debates as some say God did not cause this and others would say I deserved it, and on and on. I don’t pretend to know the answers to so many of these questions. I know that bad things happen to good people and I have seen bad people be blessed beyond measure. It can be quite confusing to try and figure it all out but I choose not to get caught up in all these questions when it comes to my personal plight. I do try to provide some kind of answer or comfort for those who seek guidance in the midst of crisis. Meantime I use the back scratcher we have to retrieve socks, shoes, and even pick my cell phone up because reaching for them results in excruciating pain. I am confident that when all is said and done I will be better for all the frustration and will look for and find the good that comes from this.

My scripture reading for today is in John, chapter 9. It is a fascinating story of Jesus healing a man who was born blind. Naturally this ties in some to my thoughts for the day. I must shuffle around a little and attempt to find a position that does not hurt as bad while I do this. I lean forward as I support my weight with my hands to provide a temporary respite from the pain and then sit upright to type this. Now as the pain builds I will go through the slow careful process of laying back on the pillows piled on the bed to provide some upright support. One wrong move, even a quarter inch off, will result in a wave of pain that immobilizes me for about 120 to 200 seconds until it fades back to where I can move again. This is how it has been since Monday.

Hang on, let me lay back.

Ok, that is finally done. Even sitting up in the bed must be done carefully. I keep my walking staff next to the bed for I must lean on it and use the strength of my arms to sit up, to lay down, to pull my feet over the edge of the bed to the floor, and then to stand up. I am blessed!!! Really, I am. When someone on facebook expressed how sorry they felt for me and stuff like that I quickly wrote back, stopping their sympathy feeling bad thing and told them “This is just part of the price I pay for being alive, for surviving that car wreck, and if this is the price of life I am happy to pay it because the alternative is not as good”

I don’t talk about the hard times we go through to get people to feel sorry or bad for us, but I do because many have told me how it has inspired them through the difficulties they have faced. That and I tend to be forthrightly honest and to not put on a big false front in order to impress anyone.

That is all for now. We will attempt to visit with Mary today. Not sure if she is home as she isn’t answering the phone, but she often does not answer it. See ya next time.

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