Wednesday, December 25, 2013

From A Horrible Day To A Holiday

I enjoyed a wonderful Christmas Day today with my family.  First of all, my wife and I had lunch with her mom and her husband.  It was a magnificent dinner with ham, Lima beans, potato salad, cheesy tomatoes (a special recipe from my mother in law) and corn.  We even had lemon pie for dessert, but I had to decline (a rarity) since I was so full from the main courses.

Later in the day my wife and I visited my father, brother, sister and their extended families.  We mainly ate sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, and taco chips with dip.  Not being overly full from this meal, I ventured out and had some caramel cake and some fudge for dessert. Afterwards we opened up a few gifts from the mob that was in attendance (by my count, eighteen people in all).

So, December 25th, 2013, was a routine Christmas Day for me. There was good food, good company and some obligatory gifts.

However, December 25th, 2004, was a different story.  Having had major surgery for bladder cancer in August 2004, I struggled with frequent urinary tract infections afterwards, many which  took me to the emergency room for special treatment.  I remember on December 23rd, 2004, having a high fever and heading once again to the emergency room.  The medical team who treated me felt that I should be admitted into the hospital for intravenous antibiotics, meaning I would be hospitalized on Christmas Day.  I remember watching Christmas television specials from my hospital bed.  Later in the day, my family visited me for a few precious moments in my hospital room.  Consequently, it was sad not seeing my daughters open their Christmas presents that day.  In addition, my Christmas meal consisted of basic hospital food, usually not quite as elaborate as my mother in law's meals.  Nevertheless, cancer (or at least the treatment for it) had once again thrown a wrench in my plans.  What should have been a holiday instead was a horrible day.

That was then.  This is now.  Although I still have to work some holidays as a nurse practitioner, since I am cancer free, the horribleness of December 25th, 2004, is now a distant memory.  It seems like it has been several years since I have had a bad urinary tract infection, at least not bad enough to take me to the hospital.

It truly is a merry Christmas for me.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Save Me From This Hour??

We read an interesting passage in Sunday School the other day which captivated me.  As Jesus was getting closer to the crucifixion, He stated, "..My soul has become troubled; and what should I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour?' But for this purpose I came to this hour.  Father, glorify Thy name."  (John 12:27-28).  In other words, He recognized the Father's will for Him to be crucified.  He didn't need prayers to deliver Him from this moment, or "this hour" as He stated.  It was God 's sovereign will for Him to die.  As a result, His prayer was not for deliverance, but that God would be glorified in His upcoming affliction.

This reminded me of God's sovereignty when going through major illness or cancer.  Sometimes it is not God's will for someone to be healed.  It's as simple as that.  Perhaps cancer or illness is part of a divine plan for a person, a providential trial to accomplish a higher purpose.  His power can be displayed magnificently through a vessel that is hindered by illness.

Consider the life of Fanny Crosby, one of the most prolific hymn writers in history.  Born in 1820 she became blind in childhood due to malpractice from a health care provider.  About eleven years after her conversion to Christ, she began writing hymns.  Not being proficient in Braille, she relied upon her memory to edit poems and songs.  Eventually, she wrote around nine thousand hymns, sixty of which are still in active use today, including, "Blessed Assurance," "Rescue the Perishing", "Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross," and "To God Be The Glory."  She never wanted sympathy for her blindness.  She stated, "If I had been given a choice at birth, I would have asked to be blind...for when I get to heaven, the first face I will see will be the One who died for me."

Fanny Crosby did not ask to be delivered from blindness, or what you could possibly call, "her hour".  She recognized God's higher purpose in her infirmity. Hence, her life prayer was not necessarily, "Save me from this hour" but rather, "Glorify Thy name."  Consequently, her life was a living example of what she describes in one of her magnificent hymns, "To God be the glory, great things He hath done."