Thursday, February 16, 2012

16th February

Well I’ve kept busy today, visiting the sick, collecting prescriptions and the like. So that’s very helpful as regards my own ill health. Yes I’ve managed to avoid engaging with grief and the inward focus that so easily turns into an outward expression of mourning. And that was despite relating a fairly comprehensive tale of Jane’s cancer journey which didn’t trouble me at all. But it has helped me begin to verbalise some challenging thoughts I’ve been having since losing Jane. I guess I’ve talked about Jane’s final days many times before so all I want to say now is that God’s favour was with her all the way through her treatment, more than that she remained totally at peace, filled with the love of God, no matter what was happening. Of course the banner of hope, under which we cried out to God for healing, waved a final goodbye as Jane entered the restoring presence of Jesus Christ in heaven. But God’s glory is all that matters, whatever pathway we walk down, and he never left us to fight the battle alone.

So, having prayed for years with faithful support from an army of believers around the world, how has that challenged my belief in the power and favour of the Lord? Our pursuit of healing and restoration for Jane in this life was single-minded, and obviously that particular hope was unfulfilled. But is that ok? Is my faith journey damaged? During the four year battle she endured multiple toxic treatments and operations, as well as a private dietary based programme. For some reason Jane asked me to take today’s photo of her enduring a frozen scalp during chemo, on the day ward in Nottingham this time last year. It was designed to save her hair and worked well… she was a tough one my Jane. With every new decision, we prayed, seeking God’s direction and then stepped out in faith trusting in his mercy and favour. We sought the Lord for healing initially from local church elders before visiting prayer rooms across this nation and then the USA. Ultimately the disease progression matched the exact expectation of her brilliant oncology consultant. So then where was God in all that is the obvious question? I suppose there are some questions that can only be fully answered when we meet him face to face, but then again come that day in heaven I expect that the concerns of today will be the last thing we’d want to talk about! Anyway, for sure I know that God intervenes in the troubles of mankind to answer prayer both large and small but I cannot say why he did not allow Jane to stay with me by healing her. He could have, but didn’t. I know she’s better off in heaven, that’s obvious, but I don’t feel that good about it I have to say. Even though I can be happy for Jane I’m struggling to be happy for myself. Bereavement is very painful. So again where was God and also where is God in all this? I may not understand much but this I know, God is with me every minute of every day and always has been. His love carried Jane and myself through a horrendous ordeal and I am confident that he will never leave me, no matter what challenge is set before me.

Having witnessed God’s grace and provision of medical expertise over the final weeks of Jane’s life, as she slowly suffocated to death with massive growths in both lungs, I can confidently say that neither death nor the process of dying holds any fear for me. I’d prefer to wait a few more decades, but I am quite sure that God’s provision is there for all who reach out to him when their time comes. Without God this ordeal would have been almost impossible to cope with, and bereavement after so many years of love would truly have broken my heart. I wouldn’t want to live anymore. But I do! And God’s love fills the brokenness in my life as much as the wholeness he’s been working on for so many years. So when doubts about God answering prayer seem to shake my confidence, I look within and remember the lifetime of favour he’s gifted me. Then I know that those doubts are like tumbleweed blowing through a deserted town… they have no place in my life anymore. My life is filled with the love and purpose and people of God. And always will be. My destiny is secure. As is Jane’s.

James 1:2-8 ‘Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.’ (NLT)

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