Can good come out of bad? – A Personal Journey

A few weeks ago I did a talk for a Cancer Council morning tea on living when you can’t see God working and my own personal story about waiting for Him to fulfil His promises and bring something good out of chronic illness.

This is not a neat, polished story, tied up with perfect conclusion, because real life isn’t like that. But it’s my story, and all I have to offer. Here is the transcript: 

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Cupcakes beautifully made and lovingly gifted by a lady at the Tea.

” Firstly, standing up here today, I want to tell you I feel inadequate.

There are two reasons for this.

Firstly many of you have lived through difficulties I never will.

There are harder stories to tell than my own. I want to acknowledge that.

The second reason I will tell you after my story.

Continue reading “Can good come out of bad? – A Personal Journey”

Long distance Watching (Part 2)

It’s difficult to care as much about something when you’re not confronted with it every day.
We are often more distressed about our 3 year old’s tantrum than a war in a 3rd world country. What we see and experience affects us.

Watching from a distance feels less ‘real’

What we experience personally seems more real, not only because we are a firsthand witness but because it actually disrupts our life.

Thus, it is more difficult to Watch when we do not see our Loved One regularly. It is genuinely hard to place as much importance on their struggles.

Not because our love is less, but because it makes up less of our day.

What should we do?

Continue reading “Long distance Watching (Part 2)”

Long-distance Watching (Part 1)

Perhaps we have always lived far away from our Loved One, and we want to know if we are actually a Watcher.

Perhaps we used to co-reside with them, and due to circumstances or choice we have recently moved a distance away and are struggling.

Or maybe we’d actually prefer to live elsewhere and wonder what that will look like in terms of Watching.

Possibly the opportunity has arisen for us to move closer and we’re not sure whether this will be a wise move.

These questions are difficult and important.

How do we Watch when we live far away from our Loved One? Is it possible?

This is Part 1 of a two-part series focused on “Watching from a distance”.
Continue reading “Long-distance Watching (Part 1)”

Short or long term thinking?

‘Don’t think of now, focus on the future.’
‘Don’t worry, one day it won’t be like this.’

Short vs. Long term thinking

We have all been given this advice, offered it to others, or proscribed it to ourselves. But surely we have also done the same with the following:

‘Just take one day at a time.’

‘Don’t think of the future, concentrate on the now.’

Yet which stance is right? Which advice should we take?

LONG TERM

Our long term is devoid of hope

The problem with the first set of encouragements is that for us Watchers long term is very long term.

The ‘foreseeable future’ is generally what people label as long term. Yet when someone suffers from a chronic illness there is often no hope squatting on the horizon to look forward to.

The ‘foreseeable future’ is not long term enough for us, because our future contains no resolution to focus on. In this sense ‘long term thinking’ is impossible.

We can have no hope that an end will come, that a cure will be formulated.

Our long term is amazing

For Christians of course, we can look at the long long term. Continue reading “Short or long term thinking?”

Idealism or Pessimism: which is the right response to suffering?

Have you ever felt over the moon with joy – only to have someone snipe at you for being “too idealistic?”

We’ve all met That Person. The one with a hard life and huge smile. They never seem ‘down’ and they’re always hopeful about the future, even when there seems to be little to hope in!

Perhaps you’re that person. Or maybe you’re more inclined to the opposite view… You understand that life is hard and it probably won’t get any better, and having fun is all very nice, but it’s not reality!

Idealism or pessimism? Which is the right response when confronted with tragedy and illness?

It’s easy to judge a response when it’s the opposite to our own

If you’re bubbly and full of life it can be extremely disheartening when others “drag you down”. It’s not pleasant to have our “bubbles burst” or our happiness frowned at!

Continue reading “Idealism or Pessimism: which is the right response to suffering?”

The moral benefits of “being there” for someone with a chronic illness

Last weeks post was about the dangers of Watching… and yet, Watching also has many saving graces.

Being there for someone who is struggling can bring it’s own particular temptations. We can begin to feel entitled or special, because we are doing something that is hard. We may be inclined towards bitterness or envy.

Yet it’s important to remember the flip side of the equation. While Watching can present us with temptation, it can also be a huge benefit!

Watching benefits us like an electric fence.

Watching, like every circumstance, narrows our experience of life. Let me give an example:

The man who is happily married may be less tempted to cheat on his spouse. His marriage is a fence.

Yet the same man, because he is happily married, may be tempted to rip off his company to get more money to build a desirable lifestyle.

His fence, while keeping certain ‘dangers’ in, keeps other temptations out.

So how can Watching benefit us personally?

Continue reading “The moral benefits of “being there” for someone with a chronic illness”

The moral dangers of “being there” for someone with a chronic illness

“Being There” for someone struggling is GOOD – but there are temptations along the way…

Watching is dangerous.

It’s not very “politically correct” to talk about morals when we discuss suffering. Ethics, certainly, but morals? They’re a bit more personal, a bit more offensive. After all, how can  you suggest that someone in pain is responding the ‘wrong’ way?

At the same time, I think it’s essential. As a Christian, I want to become more like Jesus – and so it’s important to me to acknowledge the overt temptations I encounter. Even if you do not share my faith, I think we all would like to ‘build our character’ and ‘become a better person’ or ‘live up to our own standards’. It’s part of being human.

It’s important than, to acknowledge that Watching or care-giving can be morally dangerous. This because it contains the two ingredients which are often present when something good turns sour.

Continue reading “The moral dangers of “being there” for someone with a chronic illness”

4 reasons admitting we are sad is not that easy

I find it quite difficult to respond to: ‘How are you?’
With, ‘Sad.’
It doesn’t seem like an appropriate answer.

It seems a bit silly to even have to say this, but when a Loved One is diagnosed with a chronic illness, it can make us feel sad.

It sounds ridiculous. Of course when someone is sick it is going to make us sad. But I genuinely believe it’s not that simple. At least it wasn’t for me.

4 reasons we find it hard to be sad after a diagnosis

1. Sadness is unexpected

To be sad – and only sad – is quite rare.

Life is complex, and so we are often experience several emotions at a time, particularly in the wake of a chronic illness diagnosis.

Our grief is often tainted with anger or bitterness or frustration, or even exhaustion. As a result, when we find ourselves ‘simply’ sad, and ‘only’ grieving, it can feel a bit odd. It is an experience we are not prepared for, and don’t know how to cope with.

This can be uncomfortable and confusing. It was for me. Continue reading “4 reasons admitting we are sad is not that easy”

Why praying for healing is tricky (dealing with ‘troublesome’ Bible passages)

As I’ve wrestled with the concept of prayer and the reality of chronic illness in my life, I’ve discovered a Big Tricky Question.
I can’t ignore it any longer.

I’ve written about prayer in Why we need to make up our minds about prayer and Why we should pray for healing from chronic illness.

But the Big Tricky Question keeps niggling at me.

It’s this:
Not everyone who prays is healed.

So what do we do (as Christians and/or as Watchers) with the parts of the Bible that promise immediate healing?

Why do passages in the Bible promise healing but not deliver?

First disclaimer: I’m not a trained theologian.

Second disclaimer: context is important, but for the sake of a read-able blog post I haven’t included the surrounding chapters of each of these verses.

Third disclaimer (this is the most important!): I can’t promise a miracle. But I can offer you company as you look through theses verses and puzzle over them. I can offer you my thoughts, and a chance to put aside your assumptions and your aching heart to read these passages anew.

Will you join me?

Continue reading “Why praying for healing is tricky (dealing with ‘troublesome’ Bible passages)”

Why should I pray for healing if it’s a chronic illness? (3 reasons it is so hard)

I’ve said before that for me, prayer is often feels like making a wish on a ‘wish chip’ or over a birthday cake.

Today, I want to suggest that perhaps prayer is also like waving a magic wand…

The last post discussed why we need to make up our minds about prayer, even if it seems silly or childish. Now I want to ask:

Why should we pray for healing if our Loved One’s illness is chronic?

Prayer is not a choice

If a wizard doesn’t have a wand, we begin to doubt whether he truly is a wizard.

If he has one, and doesn’t use it… well that’s just silly!

Likewise, the Bible says if we are Christians, prayer for healing is not just an optional extra if we feel in the right mood (Ephesians 6:18; James 5:13). It’s part of who we are.

We want healing, plain and simple. And if we’re not asking God for it, I suspect it means we’re asking someone else.

Perhaps we have pinned our hopes on doctors and treatments (the gifts rather than the Giver) or simply ‘fate’ (what will be will be).

If the former, we’ve created idols; if the latter, we’ve lost sight of God’s bigness and sovereignty.

Prayer can sometimes feel like something of little consequence. A few muttered words, clenched fists, perhaps closed eyes. Yet I think, as Watchers, praying for healing is a unique way we can live out our faith.

It is faith in action and glorifies God as trustworthy and powerful.

Continue reading “Why should I pray for healing if it’s a chronic illness? (3 reasons it is so hard)”