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Seasons of Disease and Death – Where Life Gets Real

I’ve been reading and meditating on John Chapter 9 and 11 of late. Those two chapters are significant to me because they touch on the very things that have most impacted my adult life – disability (or illness) and death.

Those two chapters are significant to me because they touch on the very things that have most impacted my adult life – disability (or illness) and death.

John 9 chronicles the story of Christ healing the man blind from birth.

John 11 tells of Christ raising Lazarus from the dead.

As I mulled those scriptures over in my mind I looked for similarities and differences. I noted that the blind man didn’t seek Jesus out for healing, but Jesus healed him anyway. And as I thought about that blind man I wondered why he didn’t seek out this miracle performing man. Surely he had heard the gossip. John 9:32 might answer that question for us.

“Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.”

The blind man held no hope for healing. Never had it been reported that a man born blind had been made to see. It was a foregone conclusion in his mind that he would never see the world around him. Why chase after the prophet who was stirring up so much controversy? How could he even find his way to the prophet? So he sat in acceptance of the circumstances he had always known with no hope of changing them as the world passed by around him.

I understand that mentality all too well. It’s hard to carry the hope of healing while simultaneously accepting what is deemed unchangeable. How does one invest the effort required searching for a cure while expending so much energy coping with what is? How was the blind man supposed to hunt for this wandering prophet when his very survival was contingent upon the alms he begged for day after day?

On the other hand, Mary and Martha knew that Lazarus could be healed. They had access to Jesus. They had cultivated a relationship with him. They believed He was the long awaited Messiah. They had likely seen Him heal others. So they sent for Jesus communicating their dire need for His presence. And then they waited . . . and waited . . . until it was too late and their brother was dead.

And when Jesus finally showed up their deep anguish bubbled up and out their mouths as they each told him that Lazarus would not have died if he had been there. Their faith is revealed alongside their confusion and vulnerability. They trusted Jesus to come, to step in and save the day. But he didn’t do it. And they still trusted him for resurrection at the last day.

One man without faith – without hope.
Two women with faith – with hope.

And in a rare turn of events Jesus answers the most common and difficult question that always arises when death and disease become a part of our lives. Why?

Why was this man born blind?
Why did Lazarus die?

And the answers are strikingly similar in both situations. So that the works of God could be revealed through him. So that God and the Son of God would be glorified.

Sandwiched between those two stories is John chapter 10 where Jesus proclaims, “I am the good shepherd”! And in that chapter Jesus lays bare the reason for which he came, “. . . That they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (in the fullest measure).” He proclaims his power to both lay down his life for the sake of his flock and to take it up again. He proclaims himself to be the long awaited Messiah. And maybe most remarkable of all is that he flat out tells his audience how to prove that he is not who he says he is. He tells them that if they won’t believe his words, they should believe his works.

And isn’t it interesting that “I am the good shepherd” falls right between the stories of death and disability? In the grand scheme of things what leads us to question the meaning of life more than disease and death . . .

When disease or disability become our eventual reality, we can be confident that there is an important purpose for our suffering – that the works of God might be revealed through us. And when death invades your life, stealing away your hopes and plans we can be assured that God and the Son of God will be glorified.

7 But we have this precious treasure [the good news about salvation] in [unworthy] earthen vessels [of human frailty], so that the grandeur and surpassing greatness of the power will be [shown to be] from God [His sufficiency] and not from ourselves. 8 We are pressured in every way [hedged in], but not crushed; perplexed [unsure of finding a way out], but not driven to despair; 9 hunted down and persecuted, but not deserted [to stand alone]; struck down, but never destroyed; 10 always carrying around in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be shown in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly [experiencing the threat of] being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be evidenced in our mortal body [which is subject to death]. 12 So physical death is [actively] at work in us, but [spiritual] life [is actively at work] in you. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 AMP

Our suffering is not in vain but has eternal value. And in the seasons of disease and death, where life gets real and all we’ve worked for and stood for is called into question, stands the good shepherd who is worthy of our faith and trust, who leads us and cares for us and is powerful enough to usher us from this earthly fold into eternity where we will experience life in its fullest measure.


***(From Wesley’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:10 – alittle help understanding verse 10)

” . . . Wherever we go. . . Continually expecting to lay down our lives like him [Jesus]. That the life also of Jesus might be manifested in our body – That we may also rise and be glorified like him.”

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2017 in Chronic Illness, Faith, Grief, Uncategorized

 

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No Need for Introductions

In twenty-five years I have yet to find a satisfactory way to celebrate the birth of my stillborn son. It’s not a day on which I can look back and remember smiles and laughter from days gone by. There are no photos to flip through with nostalgic pleasure. My son Cole, 25 years later, remains a mystery to me. 

I used to think that maybe I might be able to discern at least a core personality trait simply from the way Cole moved within my womb . . . but that, of course, that was simply the musings of a mother who desperately longed for the child she never knew. I dare say I am not the only mother who has entertained such flights of fancy. And in the three years since Bethany and Katie joined Cole in their eternal home, the unknowns have been magnified.

When I cross that great divide will I meet my son as a babe in arms or will a full grown man, standing tall, shoulders back appear before me? Will Bethany and Katie be forever 20 and 16? Will I be an old woman, grey of hair and stooped of shoulder in their eyes or the woman I was when each one left me behind? Will Cole meet me as a woman not yet 30 and Bethany and Katie with the fifty year old mother they last saw? 

I don’t know the answers to the simplest of questions in regards to my children. It is a fruitless pursuit to wonder who they would be today had the events that took each one from me not transpired. But there is one thing I do know. We will know (have memory of) and visually recognize one another. There will be no need for introductions.*

And so, as I find myself once again at a loss, restless and a bit frustrated by the unfulfilled longings of my heart, I also live in anticipation of the day when the waiting is over. When all my questions will be answered and all my longings satisfied.

Then my thoughts circle back to the more practical matters at hand. What to do in recognition of the child who is so much a part of my being . . . 

Will there be cake? 

Should there be?

Balloons released into the air?

Could we, the three of us who remain, enjoy either or would they just magnify the emptiness of the occasion?

And why can’t I answer this question after 25 years?

*See Luke 16:19-31 – The story of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man clearly recognized both Abraham the Patriarch (whom he had never met as Abraham died before the rich man’s birth) and Lazarus remembering that he sat at his gate covered in sores hoping for scraps from the rich man’s table.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

The Brutally Honest Christmas Card — D.L. Mayfield

 

childsxmasThe dreaded annual Christmas letter . . . well, that’s how I feel about writing a Christmas letter anyway . . . and I guess I’m not alone!

Our family life has never been filled with exceptional academic, musical or athletic achievements. If I compare my life to the Christmas letters I’ve received in the past, I end up feeling as if every family, except ours, is filled with over-achievers.

What ever happened to the average family? The family that was content with passing grades, musical or athletic participation, and kids who got part-time jobs, were kind, polite and didn’t get arrested? When did keeping it real become passé in exchange for masks of familial perfection?

At some point, writing the annual Christmas letter seemed to demand that I turn myself into a first class spin doctor. Should I have submitted a draft to the Positive Propaganda Police before distribution?

I quit writing that annual letter precisely because it became too hard to spin our everyday life into perfectly positive tidbits. Tidbits fit for . . . my friends . . . my family . . . close acquaintances?

My word!

If I can’t be myself with friends and family; are they really friends? Am I really accepted by family? Am I only worthy if I can frame my little life into a positive façade fit for publication?

If so, I guess I’m not worthy.

The David Boxx branch of the family tree is not “practically perfect in every way.” We are human. Life throws us curve balls. We struggle. We screw up. We don’t always make the best decisions or the wisest choices. We do our best. We fall down and sometimes we stay down for awhile. We adjust, adapt and try something new—and it’s often not very pretty.

So last year when I came across this blog post I uttered a heartfelt, ‘Hallelujah!’

Here’s to keeping it real—to being ourselves instead of fitting in.

Here’s to life—good, bad and ugly!

Let’s live life instead of paraphrasing and editing it!

Follow the link below for inspiration on how to get started.

Source: The Brutally Honest Christmas Card — D.L. Mayfield

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Magical Bear Traps

Magical Bear Traps

Here you go – a bereaved parent at Christmas – I’m partial to Vanilla Chai Lattes with my scones!

thelifeididntchoose

My heart hurts every time a name is added to this awful “club” no one wants to join.

One more family knows our pain.

One more family has an empty chair at holiday gatherings.

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But I am thankful for the moms and dads that share their hearts in bereaved parents’ groups.  I’m thankful for the safe space to speak honestly about what this life feels like and the challenges that greet us in this Valley.

A  fellow waiting mom, Brenda Ehly, shared this on her personal Facebook page.  I asked her if I could post it here and she graciously gave me permission:

“So, every now and then, I am asked, ‘How are you?’

Just in case any of them meant, ‘What is it like to be grieving a child during the holiday season?’ let me try to explain:

First, imagine you have stepped into a bear trap.

bear-trapIt hurts.

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Posted by on November 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Stay

Jesus was a storyteller. He used everyday examples He knew His audience could relate to in order to teach biblical principles. He understood the power of a good analogy.

This blog post paints a vivid word picture describing a thought provoking truth regarding a Christian’s struggle to wait upon the Lord. Frankly, it was a valuable, yet painful read for me, in this season of my life. But I believe Adrien Rogers got it right when he said,

“It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals, than falsehood that comforts and then kills.”

Follow the link below by clicking on the word “Stay” highlighted in red to read the article from blogsite “Patchwork Scraps of Life”. I added the scriptures below the link regarding waiting upon the Lord  for your review.

The command was clear and firm… and it appeared to be just about killing her…

Source: Stay

Psalms 130:5-6 “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.”

Psalms 27:13-14 “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

Isaiah 30:18 “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.”

Lamentations 3:25 “The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”

Micah 7:7 “But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.”

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2016 in Adversity, Faith, Links, Uncategorized

 

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Easter, Co-Wounded with Jesus

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Jesus of Nazareth was humiliated, tortured, and ostracized.  For some of us, the passion (suffering) inflicted upon Jesus is not so unlike what many of us have experienced in terms of our own traum…

(Clink on the link highlighted in red below to read the article.)  

Source: PTSD Spirituality: Easter, Co-Wounded with Jesus

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2016 in Adversity, Faith, Links, Uncategorized

 

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Remember: Why Good Friday Matters as Much as Resurrection Sunday

Remember: Why Good Friday Matters as Much as Resurrection Sunday

(Clink on the link highlighted in red entitled “view original post” below to read the complete article and “thelifeididntchoose” to access the blog.)  

thelifeididntchoose

“On the one hand Death is the triumph of Satan, the punishment of the Fall, and the last enemy. Christ shed tears at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane: the Life of Lives that was in Him detested this penal obscenity not less than we do, but more.
On the other hand, only he who loses his life will save it. We are baptized into the death of Christ, and it is the remedy for the Fall. Death is, in fact, what some modern people call “ambivalent.” It is Satan’s great weapon and also God’s great weapon: it is holy and unholy; our supreme disgrace and our only hope; the thing Christ came to conquer and the means by which He conquered.”  C.S. Lewis,  Miracles

Bury a child and suddenly the death of Christ becomes oh, so personal. The image of Mary at the foot of the…

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Posted by on March 25, 2016 in Faith, Links, Uncategorized

 

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