Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Stroke Recovery: On Being There

Written in hospital:

We look to God and ask Him to keep us from, 'all the ills that flesh is heir to', but Jesus said, 'In this world you will have trouble.' We cannot know why he allows some things to happen to us and protects us from others, but James in particular lays down some general principles about the development of character through trials and perseverance [James 1:2-4]. It is easy to overlook also that in the many commands in Scripture to help the suffering, that means someone, even 'good' people, has to be suffering for us to do so.

So suffering will come to all of us in some measure and it is counterproductive to ask why this particular suffering and not that. There are three ways in which we can profitably respond when suffering comes: draw near to God, learn and grow, and allow others to serve.

When I had my stroke and I lay helpless in the doctors' hands, my mind reached out and begged God to fix it. He didn't, but in yielding to His will I felt wrapped in safety. I understood the 'peace which passes understanding' [Philippians 4:7], because in those hours when I could have died, when I had no idea how disabled I would be, or even if I would have enough sense to comprehend, let alone worry about the impact on my family, I didn't once feel scared. It didn't make sense at all, but I was safe. For that, I am immeasurably grateful.

Now the crisis is over I have to get the best out of it. There is a truth that sometimes we are sent trials to refine us, but it can be counterproductive to tear yourself apart looking for faults. Paul famously said that God works in all things for the good of those who love Him [Romans 8:28]. Whether the suffering was sent for a purpose or just happened, seek to get the most benefit from it. Maybe you can learn more patience, more sympathy, or reassess your priorities. Maybe it will result in a whole new approach or just changes within. When you draw near to God, let Him show you.

And He can do the same for others, through your suffering. Today's world says, 'Be independent, don't let your weaknesses show.' But suffering is a chance to reach out to one another and learn and grow together. Don't deny others the blessing of helping you. Don't deny family and friends the comfort of feeling useful and showing their love for you [Galatians 6:9]. They may find new qualities and resources in themselves and there will be a special bond between you.

'In this world you will have trouble,' but let us throw it back in defiance and use it to build.

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