No matter how tough things are going, you can bet that there is someone who is going though tougher times. Be it health, finances, marriage, job or no job, if you look around it won't take you long to find someone in a worse place than you. But first, I need to lay some back ground.
A couple of weeks ago I received a call from Sue, a lady in our church that Jeri and I have become friends with, wanting to know if I was interested in driving a young lady, Heidi, to her dialysis appointment once or twice a month. I said sure, since I have been looking for opportunities to volunteer anyway. So she gave my name to Mary Ann who coordinates all the various drivers for the three days a week that Heidi has dialysis.
Heidi is in her mid-thirties, maybe 5' 1" or 5' 2", can't weigh 80 or 85 lbs., has been married to Dale for 12 years. Shortly after their marriage both her kidneys failed. Her first transplant lasted a year before her body rejected it. Her mother then donated a kidney, only it was rejected 6 months later. During the second transplant operation she suffered a major stroke leaving her partially paralysed on her right side. In the ensuing years she has had two open heart surgeries replacing heart valves, and two minor strokes. She just returned from a weeks stay in a Honolulu hospital where they were treating her for a blood infection that could be damaging her heart valves again. She may be facing a third heart operation.
Jeri and I picked her up this Wednesday morning at 10:15 a.m. and drove the 30 minutes to Keauhou where the dialysis lab is. She was obviously tired from the trip from Honolulu the previous day, and I'm sure from needing the dialysis, so there wasn't much conversation. I found out later that is pretty common with her as she has a quiet personality. I also know from personal experience that when you don't feel well, sometimes conversation is the last thing you want because it takes effort to think and talk. Especially with a total stranger. So we just enjoyed the ride in the Camaro, the breath- taking views of the ocean, the warm sunshine and air flowing through the open windows of the car.
My thoughts turned to the irony of two people sitting side by side in the same car, neither of who by all rights should still be alive, yet here we were still pressing on with what ever God has planned in our lives.
You have heard me in the past compare life to the poker game of "seven card no-peek" where you are dealt seven cards face down, you don't get to look at them, and you turn them over one at a time. You don't get to exchange them or discard them, you play the hand dealt to you.
The difference is that God is the dealer, He knows what cards you are getting, and has planned for the good and the not-so-good cards. Nothing comes as a surprise to him. Therefore, no matter what your situation is, stop worrying, take each day and get through it, then do the same the next day, and every day thereafter, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. Enough cliches in that sentence for you? Glad I don't have to make a living at writing. Or Golf.
I don't know what the future holds for Heidi, but it sure doesn't look promising from where I sit. But then I don't have God's view and He may have something very special in store for her. God is already blessing her with people who love her and are ministering to her and her husband, a couple who are providing an ohana (sorta like a mother-in-law apartment) free of charge, and a large network of people who are willing to give up time to take her to the dialysis appointments so her husband can maintain his job.
My thoughts then turn to Peggy and Teresa who are fighting the return of cancer, and Pam who is fighting it for the first time, the tough days that they are having with the effects of the chemotherapy, of daily dealing with the consequences if this doesn't work. There is a huge elephant in the room of their lives and it is impossible to push out. That is why prayer by all of us is so important, to sustain and uplift their spirits, to carry them through the difficult days that they have.
I have known and experienced the prayers of many of you the past three years, and I pray that you all will pray for these and others who are suffering. Send cards, letters, e-mails, call, visit, talk to them because there are days that the loneliness can be overwhelming. Love them like no one else can.
Eph_6:18 Do all this in prayer, asking for God's help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God's people.
Jas_5:13-16 Are any among you in trouble? They should pray. Are any among you happy? They should sing praises. Are any among you sick? They should send for the church elders, who will pray for them and rub olive oil on them in the name of the Lord. This prayer made in faith will heal the sick; the Lord will restore them to health, and the sins they have committed will be forgiven. So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed. The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect.
One last thought, or confession, how ever you want to look at it. There are days when I am sitting in the sun, absorbing the heat and the seemingly healing rays of the tropical sun, when the feelings of guilt flow over me that, for the time being, God has spared me what others have gone through. Why were the prayers for my friends Freya, Bruce, Mel and John not answered. Only God knows the answer, but it still perplexes me. Then again, maybe I am spending to much time in the sun. These thoughts only occasionally occur to me on the golf course. Hmmmmm. Really can't spend much more time playing golf.