This blog deals with issues pertaining to natural dignity and worth that all humanity deserves under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. You will find articles about Life issues pertinent to Christian living and faith.
“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup
Another week draws to a close. Once again I praise my God. He has been with me day and night. The aching of this life cannot drown out his voice that continually whispers to me "Be still and know that I am God."
The culture may say it will help me kill myself. It's another way of saying "We can't handle your pain so we won't handle your pain." My culture would rather dispose of people like me than find solutions to our anguish (and theirs').
When I'm told I have no friends, I know it is not true. I will worship the Holy name of Jesus. He is a friend like no other. Jesus loves me. Nothing the world does to me can separate me from His love.  That same love is available to all who call on His name and believe in Him.  No matter what comes my way, at the end of each week I still have countless reasons to be thankful for the love of God.
I watched a thirty-seven year marriage end. It’s a tragedy
everyone involved. The husband’s infidelities came to light and his
wife was overwhelmed by deep and justifiable feelings of betrayal and
grief. She was an emotional wreck: One
moment she was shouting and stomping around her house, the next moment she was sad
and weepy. The adult children of that marriage were heart-broken to see the
dissolution of their original family. They rallied around their mother who was, after all, the first aggrieved party. In turn, the unfaithful husband and
father responded to his sons and daughters with cold detachment. This intensified the pain of his family
I suspect the feigned indifference was to mask his internal shame
and gnawing guilt. He knew he betrayed the very people who loved him
most by breaking the vows he made to his wife before Almighty God and the
community. He was supposed to love,
protect and nurture his family ─
but in the end he broke their hearts and trust. There are no winners in divorce, only losers.
Divorce even hurts the community, yet there is so much of it.
Let us not pussy-foot around modern sensibilities: God hates
divorce and he told us this in no uncertain terms (Malachi 2.16). He considers the attitude of indifference
toward marriage vows and duties as tantamount to the treacherous actions of a
Marriage was established by God as the union of a man and a
woman. Marriage is a sacred institution
and must not be torn down, altered or abandoned.
At the heart of divorce is sin. It may manifest itself as infidelity,
jealously, discord, mutual recriminations, conflict, violence or domination,
but it is all rooted in spiritual rebellion and rejection of God and His love.
Sadly, I must admit that divorce has marred and scarred my
family. There has been so much of
it. I can honestly say that not one person has
been better because of it. They all are poorer. I’m not talking about financial
poorness ― although that often was an issue too ― I am talking about poverty of
the heart, spirit and soul that is the worst of all human poverties. Spiritual poverty is the ultimate result of
Jesus taught that from the beginning of human history the
original union of a man and a woman was willed by God and determined by God to
be indissoluble. Thus Jesus said:“Therefore
what God has joined, no human being must separate.” (Matthew 19.6)
Yet people do tear apart marriage and that is a sin.
The key to a successful marriage is to follow Christ, renounce
self-interest, and place the interests of our spouse before ourselves. It is in faithfully following
Christ that the original meaning of marriage can be discovered.
If you are divorced, take heart. There is forgiveness available. Christ paid the penalty for sin at
Calvary. Through contrition, confession
and penance all people can be forgiven and are reconciled to Christ. The forgiveness of sin and reconciliation
with God is the greatest fruit of Christ’s cross. Bringing sinful humanity to
reconciliation and peace with God is the greatest mandate of the Christ's Church. Whatever your place or situation in life, give it to God and
humbly follow Jesus. He is our greatest partner.
Although I am not divorced, I do know sorrow, heart-ache and
pain. Many of my posts have chronicled them. My consolation is following Christ.
I have discovered that there can be peace even in the midst calamity. I don’t know
how those seemingly contradictory states can co-exist simultaneously, but they can
and do. It’s a glorious mystery available to Christians to enjoy in their
happiest moments or darkest hours.
Like the old hymn tells us, God is our refuge, a mighty
time of need. That fortress
is a refuge designed for the rejected or deserted, the broken-hearted, and people
who think they are unloved. In that refuge of God they will find unconditional
love and acceptance even if it seems that their earthly world is falling apart.
Yes, God hates divorce but He loves you more than you can
imagine. Regardless of what has broken your heart, let go of your pain or grudges and give them to God. Forgive. -- Mark [Click on image below or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=indCvnD4Ji4 for Kevin LeVar "A Heart That Forgives"]
governments, healthcare providers and societies in general respected, protected
and valued life. Regrettably, we can no longer rely on this to be true.
Therefore, we must educate ourselves in order to protect ourselves and our loved
My college training was in radio and television arts. I love the arts, particularly with Christian themes. I came across an excellent production of J.S. Bach's Mass in B minor (Capella Reial Catalunya, Le Concert des Nations conducted by Jordi Savall). The setting is the French Abbey Church of Saint-Savin Sur Gartempe. Superb location, the performers, camera work, contrasts in lighting, editing, and of course the music is exquisite. A link to the performance is at the end of this post. (It's 1:46 hours long.)
Why do I include so much music in my Christian blog? Music can express human emotions where words cannot. Words can capture the meaning of a thought; music captures the feeling of a thought. Together they can capture the essence of a thought or memory. Yet they are not a thought rather an approximation of a thought or a memory or a longing. That is the sweet heartache of the arts. We are reminded that beauty in its purest form so often lies just beyond reach. Our desire for it intensifies. It is inexpressible. Masters of music, literature and art have come closer to expressing beauty, even if they did not know it. Even if they were in a state of rebellion against God, inklings of the divine image within them can leak from behind the the artist's spiritual defiance. The Creature is not the Creator but still desires to be creative and create representations of creation.
But even the finest masterpiece, written in a state of spiritual ecstasy, falls short of purest beauty because purest beauty is spiritual. John Keats once said, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty, '-- that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
"What is truth?", Pilate asked as he looked into the face of truth. Jesus Christ is the truth. He told us that He is preparing a place for those who trust in Him and He is coming back for us. If it were not so, Christ would not have told us. He wants us in heaven with him. Christ's followers will know true beauty of everything in Him. Until then, we will have to settle with lesser representations and inklings of the divine. The desire is unquenchable. At the root of humanity is a desire for heaven; we cannot express this desire because heaven is beyond our earthly experience. C.S. Lewis said, "Now, if we are made for heaven, the desire for our proper place will be already with us, but not yet attached to the true object." We are made for heaven and I believe that's what often moves us create and be creative. -- Mark [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jvI7c7BKxc or click below.]
John Keats from "Ode on a Grecian Urn".
 John 18.38.
 John 1.14, 14.6, John 18.37.
 John 14.1-3.
 C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory.
My previous blog post spoke about surrendering our lives to Jesus
Christ even when we find ourselves in horrible circumstances. This does not just apply to the broken-hearted or people with disabilities or incurable diseases: It is imperative that everyone give their lives to Christ with complete abandon. In Him is perfect joy, perfect peace. Tears of sorrow and tears of joy can simultaneously flow together. I know this from personal experience.
So often during times of terrible attacks of disease when multiple sclerosis ravaged my body, I would be awakened in the middle of night to discover a presence. It was Him. He would speak to my anguished soul: "Be not afraid, I AM with you." Perfect peace would descend on me cutting through the fear that occupied my heart.
"My soul yearns for you in the night;
In the morning my spirit longs for you."
When daylight came the fading fragrance of the Comforter still lingered like perfume and I found myself desiring Christ's overwhelming and vivid presence to engulf me once again in perfect peace. Give your life daily to Jesus Christ and rest in His perfect peace that transcends the storms of this life.
My father's generation knew the Holocaust of the Nazis. The holocaust of abortion and soon euthanasia and assisted suicide hangs over mine.
Nazi propaganda Minister Josef Goebbel's guiding maxim was "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will come to believe it." The Lie was of Aryan superiority and their dominance threatened by the Jews. The mass genocide of 6 million Jews started with Germany's euthanasia program directed at mentally and physically disabled people. Killing their disabled and sick was a training ground for the final solution.
A Big Lie of my generation was/is the need for abortion. It brought another holocaust of the deliberate, systematic killing of 55-million unborn children in America alone since 1973. Canada has state sanctioned abortion down to an art and no legal protection for prenatal life at any point of pregnancy. All abortions are paid by the public purse. Abortions are available for any reason or no reason and women can have as many as they want, no questions asked. Canadians are told abortion is a woman's right despite the fact that Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms declares the FIRST legal right of all Canadians is "the right to life." Canada does not recognize the unborn child as a legal person despite medical and biological evidence that human life begins when sperm penetrates egg: In other words, conception. The Big Lie of abortion advocates includes the prejudice that the unborn child is not a person. And now, the old goblin of euthanasia stirs and yawns, roused
again after more than seventy years from its horrible slumber of the sepulcher. The stench of its breath is that of an open grave! An infernal and pernicious thought was its inception: lebensunwertes leben. Some lives should not exist. This wicked thought grows and feeds on the monstrous logic of darkness where the powerful can destroy the powerless for the unforgivable crime of getting in the way or being a burden on others or systems or governments. Merchants of death market their evil of assisted suicide by tapping into unresolved grief, delusions of autonomy or poorly managed pain. They offer assisted suicide to the defeated or deluded. Their modus operandi is lethal injection, poisoning, or death by starvation and dehydration. Man without God will inevitably create hell on earth for the powerless. Those who grieve and have broken bodies or broken spirits must not give in to the allure of giving up on life; they must not listen to an infernal gospel of death promoted by our new Dark Age. There is a Gospel of life under the lordship of Jesus Christ. He is the light of the world come to shine understanding into the darkest places of the human heart. We are called to rise above the lower parts of human nature in the world and focus on Jesus and the transcendent matters of the kingdom of God. We can rise above the most dire of earthly circumstances with Christ as our interior Guide and Master. The wickedness of man and the trials and afflictions we must endure are for a short time. They pale in comparison with the glory that shall be revealed in us through Christ Jesus. We hand our anguish to Christ in faith which, though tested, will surely bring us through by the fire of suffering. We will be brought into that radiant glory by Christ himself. The sufferings we endure now are working a far more exceeding weight of glory. Do not try to understand for it is a mystery that will only be fully revealed when we stand face to face with Christ. If you suffer from degenerative disease (like me) understand that what we see and experience now is temporary. It is what is unseen that is permanent and eternal because it is based on God's divine love.
Suffering fellow Christian -- do not let a Big Lie of this new Dark Age tempt you with suicide or euthanasia of a loved one. Do not become frantic. Remember that all things work to good for those who love God. Calm your spirit in the fire of suffering. Even though it may not seem like it right now, be still and know that God is in control of your destiny. I'm in the fire too. -- Mark [Click below, Libera, "Be Still My Soul" or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwkPsKe-39Y ]
 Peter Padfield, HIMMLER: A FULL-SCALE BIOGRAPHY OF ONE OF HITLER'S MOST RUTHLESS EXECUTIONERS (New York, MFJ Books, 1990) pp. 261-262, 304, 397, 398.
 It should be remembered that in Canada, women were not recognized as legal persons until 1929. That meant my mother was 15 years old before she was recognized as a legal person.
 Lebensunsertes Leben - meaning "life unworthy of life or "beings unworthy of existence."
 2Corinthians 4.6. cf. John 1.4 and John 8.12.
 Romans 8.18.
 1Peter 1.5-7.
 2 Corinthians 4.17-18.
 1 Corinthians 13.12, 1 John 3.2.
 Roman 8.28.
 Psalm 46.10. in Protestant Bible and Psalms 46.11 in the Catholic Bible.
There has been a profound shift
in attitude in my state since the voters of Oregon narrowly embraced assisted
suicide. A shift that, I believe, has been detrimental to our
patients, degraded the quality of medical care, and compromised the integrity of
Since assisted suicide has become an
option, I have had at least a dozen patients discuss this option with me in my
practice. Most of the patients who have broached this issue weren't even
my first encounters with this kind of request came from a patient with a
progressive form of multiple sclerosis. He was in a wheelchair yet lived a very
active life. In fact, he was a general contractor and quite productive. While I
was seeing him, I asked him about how it affected his life. He acknowledged
that multiple sclerosis was a major challenge and told me that if he got too
much worse, he might want to “just end it.” “ It sounds like you are telling me
this because you might ultimately want assistance with your own assisted
suicide- if things got a worse,” I said. He nodded affirmatively, and seemed
relieved that I seemed to really understand.
I told him that I could readily
understand his fear and his frustration and even his belief that assisted
suicide might be a good option for him. At the same time, I told him that should
he become sicker or weaker, I would work to give him the best care and support
available. I told him that no matter how debilitated he might become, that, at
least to me, his life was, and would always be, inherently valuable. As such, I
would not recommend, nor could I participate in his assisted-suicide. He simply
said, "Thank you."
The truth is that we are not islands.
How physicians respond to the patient’s request has a profound effect, not only
on a patient's choices, but also on their view of themselves and their inherent
patient says, "I want to die"; it may simply mean, "I feel useless."
When a patient
says, "I don't want to be a burden"; it may really be a question, "Am I a
patient says, "I've lived a long life already"; they may really be saying, "I'm
tired. I'm afraid I can't keep going."
And, finally, when a patient says, "I
might as well be dead"; they may really be saying, "No one cares about me."
Many studies show
that assisted suicide requests are almost always for psychological or social
reasons. In Oregon there has never been any documented case of assisted suicide
used because there was actual untreatable pain. As such, assisted suicide
has been totally unnecessary in Oregon.
Sadly, the legislation passed in Oregon
does not require that the patient have unbearable suffering, or any suffering
for that matter. The actual Oregon experience has been a far cry from the
televised images and advertisements that seduced the public to embrace assisted
suicide. In statewide television ads in 1994, a woman named Patty Rosen claimed
to have killed her daughter with an overdose of barbiturates because of
intractable cancer pain. This claim was later challen ged and shown to be
false. Yet, even if it had been true, it would be an indication of inadequate
medical care- not an indication for assisted suicide.
Astonishingly, there is not even
inquiry about the potential gain to family members of the so-called "suicide" of
a "loved one." This could be in the form of an inheritance, a life insurance
policy, or, perhaps even simple freedom from previous care responsibilities.
for me has been the change in attitude within the healthcare system itself.
People with serious illnesses are sometimes fearful of the motives of doctors or
consultants. Last year, a patient with bladder cancer contacted me. She was
concerned that an oncologist might be one of the "death doctors." She
questioned his motives—particularly when she obtained a second opinion from
another oncologist which was more sanguine about her prognosis and treatment
options. Whether one or the other consultant is correct or not, such fears were
never an issue before assisted suicide was legalized.
In Oregon, I regularly receive notices
that many important services and drugs for my patients-even some pain
medications-won't be paid for by the State health plan. At the same time,
assisted suicide is fully covered and sanctioned by the State of Oregon and by
our collective tax dollars. _____________________________ Dr. Toffler practices medicine in Oregon. He is professor of family medicine at the Oregon Health and Science University.
There are opportunities to serve God in every situation in which we might find ourselves. We may have to look for the opportunities but even the most mundane of circumstances can give us
opportunities to serve God or humanity in the Lord’s name. I do not believe there
are any circumstances too small or too big that we are unable to be of service
to the Kingdom of God.
said this about service: “It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in
the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving.”
It’s how we see the art of serving that makes all the difference.
If you are a police officer, a
fire fighter, a book-keeper or a janitor, remember that God desires that we be peaceful,
safe, and orderly. Give your vocation your best as though you are doing your
job for God, not just a salary. Offer your work to God’s service.
Simple house-work or making
supper for your family can be offered up to God.
When my grandchildren were small we would often go to
a playground. Invariably I encountered a frazzled parent of an energetic
pre-schooler. I would try to strike up a conversation to encourage them. Sometimes
they wanted to “vent” and so I used the occasion to practice my listening skills.
Even in disability
there are many opportunities for service.
They come in the oddest forms and at the oddest times. Even from the limitations
of my electric wheelchair, opportunities for service seem to pop up out of the
blue. I know in my heart they are not random ― God sends me the opportunities
to serve Him by serving people.
Many years ago, I was asked to visit a young man who had a terrible version of the disease I suffer
from: multiple sclerosis. His name was Derek.
Back then, there were no effective drugs to stop or slow the progress of MS. Derek’s
career as an engineer was destroyed just as it was beginning. His wife left him. I found Derek
wheelchair-bound in a dingy apartment. He wanted to die.
Derek allowed me to enter his anguished reality because
common disease gave me entrance into his world. My wheelchair and pain spoke to
his pain.I was able to tell him with
authority: “Derek, we are not alone in this fire. There is Another with us: “Jesus
Christ is here. I feel his presence.” Derek looked at me through blood-shot eyes,
streaming down his cheeks, and he said, “He is? I don’t feel him.” Of
course he didn’t. His shock was too new, his pain and sorrow were too fresh. He
felt deserted by God, but that did not mean his perception was accurate. It’s
impossible to see clearly when vision is blurred by tears.
Derek was a terrified and frantic
man. His wild desperation made him incapable of receiving comfort from the
Comforter. Derek reminded me of a hungry infant so ravenous and upset it will
not accept the bottle of milk at its lips. Derek could not yet be helped because he was too frantic for assistance. Derek
was like a drowning man wildly flailing, clutching, kicking and grabbing ― he
could not be rescued ― at least not in that state.
Derek would not accept God
without divine physical deliverance from multiple sclerosis. He wanted nothing other than his old life
back. He only wanted God on Derek’s terms, not God’s terms. Do you see what Derek’s problem was?
The spiritual stakes of Derek’s
grief were horribly high. With time he would either surrender his predicament to
will of God’s wisdom or he would rebel and become bitter and angry. It was only after Derek’s panic and shock subsided from
acquiring a catastrophic disease and losing his wife and career, that he would have
the opportunity to ask (not demand) “Why?”
It would mark a critical transition point for Derek and every other anguished soul. Only in surrender do we become pliable in the
hands of God. He is the potter, we are the clay. Only in surrender to the will of God can we
discover the reason for which we were created.
Rebellion spawns disdain for the
reason we were
created. At the core of the human soul rests a desire to love
perfectly and to be loved perfectly. But that is only possible through knowing Christ.
Only in Christ are we able to receive perfect love and begin to love perfectly.
This is the reason we were created.
Was Derek ever delivered from
his multiple sclerosis? I don’t know, I did not see him again. Miracles happen.
But by the very nature of miracles, they are rare. That is why they are
Jesus cured one paralytic at the pool of Bethesda. The Gospel account
leaves us to conclude many others were left uncured. More often than not people
need adversity or pain in order to discover their abject need for God.
C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers
in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His
megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Many
of us need to remain uncured of physical affliction in order to be roused to
God’s call for spiritual healing. -- Mark [For bookings for me to speak about a Christian perspective on suffering, write to HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca] Click below orhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FrEmqyM4-k
It was a quiet March evening. My wife, LaRee, was sitting in her favorite chair beside the fireplace that you see in the photo above. She was knitting while I was writing a post for this blog and listening to J.S.Bach's "Saint Matthew Passion". Something occurred to me. I said, "It was 30 years ago yesterday that I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis." LaRee paused, put her knitting down on her lap, looked over her reading glasses and said, "We won. We beat the MS." It was of those revelations of life when the experiences of decades melt into a single moment: The room filled with thunderous silence LaRee was right. We rose above the disease.
I gazed toward the fireplace and became lost in the flames. Our terrifying journey with MS did not drive us apart, it drew us closer. In the midst of the consuming fire of a terrible disease, we embraced each other tighter when the flames grew higher. Multiple sclerosis crippled my body but not our humanity nor our love for each other. In fact, our anguish made us grow spiritually and mature. Like the mature fire warming our living room, LaRee's simple but profound words warmed my heart and my soul. We looked at each other with a deep understanding no words can express. There have been times when all we had was love -- our love for
LaRee and me
each other resting in the divine love of God. We need not fear that which destroys the body if our souls are safe in Christ. (See 1 Peter 1.3-7.) The love of God will prevail. Jesus is our lover of the soul. -- Mark (Click on image below for Hillsong, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul" or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mff8_hwgWy4 )
The two greatest Season's in the Christian Calendar are Christmas and Easter. Christmas marks the Incarnation: God made man. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, He was with God in the beginning. ... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, he who came from the Father, full of Grace and truth." (John 1.1 and 14.)
Christ came into the world but the world did not know Him. And yet being God he knew this and still came into the world -- knowing that the road from Bethlehem would inexorably lead to Calvary. He still chose to come to settle the problem of evil and sin that entangles men's hearts to separate them from God. There is no greater love. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3.16-17). We have entered the Lenten Season. It is a time when Christians throughout the centuries have given special focus to Jesus Christ's suffering, death and resurrection. It is a time for spiritual purification, to set ourselves right with God again through the atoning love sacrifice of His Son on the cross. Do not make light of this or discount it. It is the reason Jesus came. He offered Himself in our place to take the penalty of our sins. Christians do not enter this time because of some morbid fascination with pain. From Christ's suffering we can, through faith, be delivered from the ultimate suffering: The loss of eternal life.
It has been through Christ's suffering and death that I have found meaning and purpose in my own 30 years of suffering incurable, degenerative disease. It is in drawing nearer to my Savior in his suffering that I have discovered the Why of my own. In His resurrection lies my certainty that He will raise me from the dead too. My lowly body will be conformed to Christ's glorious body. There will be no more crying, disease or death. He will wipe away every tear that so often blurred by spiritual vision. We will stand face to face; I will see him as He is. As a child of God, my joy will be complete. "Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God -- children born not of natural descent, not of human decision, or a husbands will, but born of God." (John 1.12-13.) And so we enter Lent and humbly contemplate what Christ did for you and me. Come, ye daughters, help me lament, Behold! Whom? The Bridegroom. Behold him! How? Like a lamb. Behold! What? Behold his patience. Behold! Where? Behold our guilt. Behold Him, out of love and graciousness,
Himself carrying the wood of the cross O guiltless Lamb of God, Slaughtered on the stem of the cross, Always found patient, Although thou wast despised. All sin hast thou borne,
Else we must have despaired. Have mercy upon us, O Jesus. (Taken from the opening chorus of J.S. Bach's Matthew Passion. To see it performed by Malmö Chamber Choir and orchestra on April 8, 2009, in Lund Cathedral, Sweden, conducted by professor Dan-Olof., click on link below or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XBZQqLUq00]
Every life is sacred. Even when faced with circumstances incompatible with life, that human life is still sacred and bears the image of God.
Baby Grayson James Walker was born with anencephaly on February 15th 2012. He only lived eight hours, but in those eight hours he was loved. His family surrounded him with tenderness and nurture until baby Grayson James Walker drew his last breath. His gift to his family was to call them to love in hopeless circumstances, to care when there was no cure, to love life even in the face of death. We do not get our worth from what we can do, or even sentience; our value comes from merely being. See Grayson James Walker's film by clicking on the image below or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-a0zYIoE-cY
In 1991, Cardinal John O'Connor founded the Sisters of Life, a contemplative/active religious community of women. The sisters take the three traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience but they take a fourth vow: to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life. for more information see their website at http://www.sistersoflife.org/
I ask both Catholic and evangelical Christians to pray for the Sisters of Life in their pro-Life work. Pray that they continue to grow and impact communities in which they serve for the cause of life and for Christ. See the video below about them and their work, or click this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvdOb1x0OAY
A number of months ago I accepted a request to speak at a Baptist church about an hour and a half drive from where I live. They asked me to speak about the rising acceptance of euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada, and my Christian perspective about suffering. Unfortunately as the date drew nearer, this part of Canada was caught under an uncharacteristically cold Arctic front. The week leading up to my speaking commitment was brutal, with temperatures dropping to the equivalent of minus 35 degrees below zero, with the wind chill factor. Early on the appointed Sunday morning, the temperature outside my house was a brittle minus 30 degrees Celsius. I doubted my rusty 16 year old wheelchair accessible van would even start let alone get me to the church. Everything is stiff when it's that cold. The van's sliding side-door creaked open but the ramp refused to come down to let me in the vehicle. It simply would not budge. Finally I prayed: "Lord, I'm willing to go but I need your help." I gave another yank on the ramp and it slowly and stiffly came out to finally let my wheelchair into the van. It started on the first try!
Two hours later I was at the church. In their faith tradition, the pastor invites prayer requests before a time of congregational prayer. I was shocked at some very serious concerns that were mentioned: One person asked us to pray for her sister recently diagnosed with ALS - Lou Gehrig's disease; another person lost a chronically ill relative a few days earlier; someone else requested prayer for the wife and family of his employee who unexpectedly dropped dead from a fatal heart attack. There was a great deal of raw pain was in that church. I had asked that a song called Blessings, by Laura Story, be played before I spoke. (You can watch the video that played at the end of this post.) Yes, I spoke about euthanasia and assisted suicide as requested, but
then I looked at the hurting people in the congregation and said something to this effect: "And now I want to talk to you, Christian to Christian, about suffering. Many of you are experiencing it. Christ will make sense of your anguish if you remain surrendered to his leading and sensitive to His voice and love." I was speaking from personal experience and let them know it. I, too, know the scorching pain of loss both of loved-ones and of physical degeneration from chronic, incurable disease (30 years of multiple sclerosis). I continued: "For those of us who are chronically ill and severely disabled, we must seek the revelation of God's divine love. We must be open to letting God use our pain, and anguish, and trials as vehicles to spiritually mature us and transform us to be more like Christ." I told them that it is vitally important to resist the temptation to become bitter, not to focus on their predicaments, and simply surrender to the divine love of Christ." I said that in this earthly life it is more important to understand than to be understood. Christ understands our suffering and He invites us into His suffering on the Cross. It is there that the Why of suffering will ultimately make sense. We will understand just as we are understood. At that point, I knew I had their complete attention because I could have heard a pin drop in the church ... and so I spoke about our hope in the Resurrection and that our lowly bodies will be transformed to be like Christ's glorious body (see 1John.3.2, 2Corinthians 3.18, Philippians 3.21.) We will know just as we are known. (See 1 Corinthians 13.12). The Scripture reading I chose for the service was Romans 8.18-39 and I invite you to read it too. -- Mark [Listen to Laura Story's song Blessings from her album of the same title. It's what I asked the church to play. Laura Story knows pain too. She wrote this song after her husband developed a brain tumor. Click on image below or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQan9L3yXjc]