Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Joy and sorrow

We seem to be in a period of ups and downs. Next week, we celebrate my graduation with a PhD in Computer Science Education and then in a months time, we will fly to the UK to start a new leg of our journey through life hopefully spending more time with our grandchildren. It should be a time of celebration but it is hard to celebrate when people dear to us are sick and possibly dying, or we see the effects of the man made economic system cause pain as it goes through a recession.

While this is happening, we have concerns for the two people that I talked about in an earlier blog (10 April 2009). Both these people are very close to us. One is a sister-in-law and the other is our daughter-in-law. Things seem to progress slowly with cancer or at least in these cases.

Our sister-in-law's condition seems to have deteriorated and death looks like a possible release but is that what God wants. Even at this late stage, we believe God can heal physically and remove the cancer from her body. He can restore the damage and bring new life. Again though, we need to ask whether that is our dream or whether that is what God is seeking in this situation. Above all else, he seeks a relationship with each of us and to bring healing in all facets of life. Yes, I pray for healing but above all else, I pray that “God's will be done.”

It is the relationship issues that concern us more with our daughter-in-law. She has her next chemotherapy session tomorrow and then on the 18 May will have a PET scan to see whether the cancer is dying. We pray that the PET scan will show the cancer in decline and that there will be no need for further treatment beyond the current chemotherapy cycles. But is this a selfish request? We have to say that “God knows the plans that he has for them. Plans for welfare and not for evil. Plans for hope and for a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). Like Israel in exile, it isn't always easy to see the end of the journey when we are in the depths of the struggle to get past the current obstacles.

On any relationship, there are always pressures from all different angles. Work places pressure on us; as do commitments to different groups. An illness like cancer with all of the tests and prolonged treatment really stresses a relationship. The person who has the cancer desires support but the partner has commitments often made long before knowledge of the cancer occurred. How do you balance these pressures in such a demanding situation. God doesn't seek to destroy relationships. Rather he would seek to make them stronger. Where there is no pain, there can be no gain but it isn't always nice going through the pain.

If all that we are asking is for God to heal so we can go on enjoying life then we have missed the point. God's healing doesn't work like that. If God heals, it will bring new challenges and demands on our life. Life won't get easier. In some respects, I see healing like a call on our life. It isn't so much that his healing brings obligations as that his healing brings changes to the way in which we view the world and its demands on us. Each criss in life brings change and that change affects the way that we interact with others from that point on. If those changes are to be positive and not negative then we need to hear what God is saying to us and trust Him to guide us through.

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