Sunday 21 April 2013

In God's hands

Here's something I shared in church this morning:
Good morning.

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Heather, I'm married to Martin and we live with Sarah.

I have a medical condition called chronic fatigue syndrome.  It's a somewhat controversial condition.  Some medical people think that people with this condition have become convinced that they can't do things that they really can do - so to get better they need someone to make them do things that they think they can't manage.  Other medical people think that CFS people have got something wrong in how with how their body works, and that pushing them to do things they can't do actually makes their health a lot worse.  Probably they're both right - some people with these symptoms will get better if you push them, other people will get worse.  For myself, I've had this condition for 10 years and I know that I get worse if I push myself to do more.

Anyway, last week I went to see some specialists about a different problem. While I was there, they kept on talking about my fatigue and trying to persuade me that I needed to push myself.  They implied that my other problem wouldn't get better if I didn't do so.  I got really angry and upset: they weren't specialists in this area, I've been properly diagnosed with chronic fatigue by people who know about the condition - why didn't they just mind their own business!!!  And I was scared - I really wanted help with my other problem, but they didn't seem willing to help me unless I was willing to do things I knew would make me really sick.

After stewing about this for a day or two, I realised I needed to take it to God.

I started praying and acknowledged that I was in His hands - He is the one who is my real help, not the medical people.  As I spent time with God, I realised something else.  I was partly upset because I felt that the attitude of the specialists I'd seen meant that I might not be able to get any help from them with my other problem, but I realised that that wasn't the main reason.  The main thing that actually upset me was that they had offended my pride.

I believe that I'm a strong person who's coping very well with a really challenging illness and I'm proud of that.  When they seemed to see me instead as someone who's all scared and weak, I was offended and angry.  When I realised that, I had to repent of that.  Repent of the pride and also repent of putting my self-worth in their good opinion, rather than in who I am in God.

Having done that, God showed me something else.  The other reason I was so upset was because, whenever something like this happens, I have a sneaky fear that maybe they're right: maybe there isn't anything really wrong with me and I've brought all my problems on myself by just being too scared to push myself.  Ten years of my life spent mostly bed ridden for no good reason is a pretty scary thought!!  So I spent some time talking to God about that one, too - just acknowledging that fear and allowing myself to be reminded that, whether or not my CFS is 'real', it's God who's in charge of my life.

After taking all that to God and talking it over with Him I was finally calm again.  I may not be able to get the help I want from these specialists, but I know that I'm safe in God's hands never-the-less.  Whenever the upsetness has started to come back, I've reminded myself of that.

Thank you.

Sunday 14 April 2013

Being human

Last week Martin and I listened to a lecture by N.T. Wright on 'Being Human'.  I was intrigued by his concept of Jesus as the most 'real' human there ever was - living in the world in the way we were always meant to.  I've been chewing over that ever since.

If you'd like to listen to it it's available here.  It's a bit over an hour long and we found it very engaging.  The whole blog that we found it on (from Compass) is also well worth a poke around :-)

Thursday 11 April 2013

Faith and deeds

Recently our Bible study group was looking at James 2:14-26.  It starts out with:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?
it then continues with what I've always taken as an example of 'deeds':
Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?
however, it's not clear from the text that that's actually what it's an example of: instead, it may simply be an example of words and actions not matching up.  After all, the text simply continues by saying:
 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
This interpretation is borne out by the two explicit examples of 'deeds' the passage does give.  I found these two examples quite obscure until Martin realised that we were thinking of the wrong kinds of deeds.  I was thinking that the 'deeds' being talked about would be 'good works' - feeding the hungry etc.  The examples given weren't like that at all: they were Abraham offering his son as a sacrifice to God, and Rahab helping the Israelites who were besieging her city.  Martin realised that what links these two stories is that the people in them are acting like God is God (indeed in Rahab's case, she is also acting like her enemy's God was more powerful than her own).  The point being made is not that their faith was complemented by good works: instead, James is saying that their faith was shown to be real by the fact that they acted on it.

Martin and I have recently started reading the gospel of John and yesterday we came across another example of this kind of deed.  In John 4:43-53 a powerful man comes to Jesus and begs him to come and heal his dying son.  Instead of going with him, Jesus simply says "go, your son will live".  Without protest, the man goes: his action demonstrates his faith in Jesus and his words.

Martin and I are both priveleged to have examples of this kind of faith in our own parents.  In different ways, they have allowed God's claims on them to totally shape how they have lived their lives: their lives show what they believe.  We are grateful to have been raised by such people.