“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

Wednesday, July 7, 2021


The HumanLifeMatters blog has passed a major milestone:

1-MILLION page-views! (See the total page-views at the right.) Readers are primarily American, Canadian and British. I never thought the blog would be so successful. 

Apparently, people are actually interested in what an unlettered, disabled old man—living in his little house out on the hinterland of the Canadian prairies—has to say about suffering and faith, Life and love, ethics and culture. I have nothing to offer except that which the Lord gives me.

Recently, a reader from Texas wrote: 

"I can only marvel at the extent to which Our Lord has taught, and continues, to teach you. Also at the effective communication gifts with which He has endowed you. This blog is so profound, truths learned in circumstances no one would ever invite upon oneself. Another of the blogs you wrote drove my mind back to the accounts of Job."

Retired Canadian Member of Parliament, Ken Epp said this about the HLM blog:

"God has gifted you with amazing communication skills, and even though we may object, it seems that the person that God hones through hardship is really sharpened in the message he has experienced and learned from." 

Their words are kind. I'm grateful to them for highlighting that everything comes from the Lord, not me. Any ideas of substance do not come from my pea-brain. How could they! Christ said we can do nothing without Him.[1] The Apostle Paul said, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God."[2] 

Many blog posts have been forged in the fires of aggressive multiple sclerosis, (and cancer). Christ has been with me in suffering throughout most of my adult life. I learnt to trust him even in the worst of circumstances. He was with me during the terrors of neurological degeneration and happy regeneration with a miracle that delivered me from years in an electric wheelchair.

Everything good I've experienced in life comes from God. I'm dependent upon Him even for my next breath and heartbeat. My trials have kept me dependent on Christ.

Suffering has the capacity of stripping away all things extraneous in life, leaving only that which is essential. Throughout thirty-seven years of MS, I have learnt that it is in a state of spiritual poverty that the voice of the Holy Spirit can be heard more clearly. Discernment becomes sharper. Whole new dimensions of internal richness can open to the sufferer if they unite their suffering with Christ's redemptive suffering. We learn there is no suffering that He has not suffered. There is no pain He does not know, whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual. 

Someone may ask "How did Christ suffer spiritually?" Read Matthew's account of Christ's agony in Gethsemane (Matthew 26.36-44). He said "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death, ...."[3] Jesus cried from the Cross, "My God! My God! Why have you forsaken Me?"[4] He knew spiritual agony.

I have been afraid of suffering. Christ was too. Three times Christ asked if it was possible that the cup pass over Him—a bitter cup of drawn out torture, and crucifixion. Crucifixion was a most shameful and excruciatingly painful death. Christ knew it was waiting for Him. But He concluded each prayer of petition by saying not His will but His Father's will be done.[5] 

I experienced the frustration and humiliation of being confined to a wheelchair. For years, my legs were useless. Do you think that Jesus did not know the frustration of being unable to move?  His hands and feet were nailed to a cross, as He hung naked for all to see his agony! That is humiliation! My fear of creeping paralysis pales in comparison. 

I was abandoned and betrayed by friends when I became disabled with MS. So was Christ abandoned and betrayed by His friends. Peter abandoned and betrayed Jesus, so did Judas!

For more than three decades, I often asked God to take away my MS and return me to normal. He did not. I had to come to a point of total resignation and complete surrender of my life and my stubborn will. I had to be able to say and pray, "Thy will be done"—regardless of what that might be entail, and mean it. It was/is necessary for me to understand that whatever suffering God allows is for my ultimate good. 

My prayers began to change to prayers of trusting acceptance. I asked God to reveal Himself in my suffering and give me understanding in my physical degeneration. I stopped asking and began accepting. For years, I no longer asked God for deliverance. and prayed as Jesus gave us example in the garden of Gethsemane and the model prayer He gave us: Thy will be done.

Then one day a few years ago, I felt led to go before the Lord and ask once again if He was willing, could I get out of my electric wheelchair and walk again, even with canes or a walker, even if only for a short time, ... . and I humbly asked that if possible could I dance with my wife again, just once? The answer was Yes. 

Gradually, almost imperceptibly at first, I began to regain physical function. I slowly regained the use of my right arm and hand, and then my legs (but not completely). I did get out of my wheelchair! I did walk again, but not without the use of a cane, canes or a walker. One winter night I was able to put down my canes and slow dance with my wife in our living room to Lionel Richie's Three Times a Lady. Okay, it was more like gentle swaying in time to the music and rotating, but to us it was dancing.

Surprisingly, I even ride a bike! Granted it's a three-wheel bike (my balance is off) and I tire quickly, but hey, I'm riding a bike. The Lord has not returned complete function. It keeps me dependent upon Him.
Remember that God did not take away the thorn in Saint Paul's side. God told him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness."[6] Strength in weakness? Such a paradox. Spiritual truths so often entail paradoxes. 

It is in life that we find death. Jesus told us that in death we find life.[7] In surrender to Him we find freedom and liberty.[8] The first in this life will be last in the next, and the last will be first.[9] It is through spiritual poverty that we gain richness of the kingdom of God.[10] We can be blessed in mourning, and receive God's comfort.[11] The Lord himself will wipe away every tear.[12]

I have personally experienced the Lord's comfort in my grief and mourning. I know Christ's words to be true. It is possible to experience divine joy in the midst of earthly sorrow. How can I keep such a discovery to myself? The HumanLifeMatters blog gives me an avenue to express it. And it's good to know so many people read my posts.

What if I have to return to my wheelchair? I will be thankful for the few years I parked it in the spare room of our house. I will have the memory of slow dancing with my wife. And if I lose the use of my right arm and hand again (or both hands) I will be grateful for LaRee's and my romantic suppers when she did not need to cut my meat.

I will thank God for granting my prayer request, even for a short time, and trust that what He does or allows is for my eternal good. My miracle has actually been a sign—a sign that Christ has heard every cry of anguish, every desperate and terrified prayer throughout the decades. He has been with me throughout it all.

Mark Davis Pickup
Email: HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca

[1] John 15.5.
[2] 1 Corinthians 3.5.
[3] Matthew 26.38a, Mark 14.34. Cf. John 12.27.
[4] Matthew 27.46, Mark 15.34. Jesus was quoting Psalm 22 or 42.9.
[5] Matthew 26.39-44.
[6] 2Corinthians 12.9.
[7] John 11.25b, cf. John 14.1-3. Cf. 2Corinthians 5.1.
[8] 2Corinthians 3.17, Galatians 5.1,13.
[9] Matthew 19.30, 20.16.
[10] Matthew 5.3.
[11] Matthew 5.4, 
[12] Revelation 21.4

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