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Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Ohiopyle Falls in western Pennsylvania
(Photo by Howard Blichfeldt)
Listen to this message on your audio player. Note: Due to a practically whisper voice that Stephen is dealing with due to a cold, Brooksyne reads today's podcast.
"It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees" (Psalm 119:71).
How are you at thanking God during times of affliction and pain? A real test of faith is learning to be thankful not only for the many good and pleasant experiences of life but also for the seemingly "bad", painful or unpleasant ones. I don't know of a single person who likes pain in any form, yet it is a major part of our lives as we journey here below. Today let us share a lesson from Ester's experience, one that many who have had heart problems may identify with.
Atrial flutter is a condition in which the heart races uncontrollably. Though Ester recently experienced flutter on October 18th she first encountered this affliction two days after she underwent a heart catheterization in Massachusetts at 11 years of age. We initially took her to her local pediatrician but he immediately sent her by ambulance to Boston Children's Hospital. It was a scary time for all of us when about ten doctors gathered around her in the emergency room in a beehive of activity. In retrospect it was due in part to it being a teaching hospital but also because her heart rate soared to the dangerous rate of 230 BPM!
In treating atrial flutter doctors initially try using less invasive measures such as drugs to bring one's heart back to normal rhythm but these methods have never been effective for Ester. They inevitably need to "cardiovert" or shock her heart back into normal rhythm. This procedure is commonly known as "the paddles" to medical laypeople since they use paddle-like devices to apply the shock. Although she was sedated prior to the procedure it was still very painful. We were out in the hall and heard her cry out when the shock was applied (an involuntary response to the shock.) Lingering pain follows when she comes out of the sedation.
Ten years ago Ester had an episode and our pastor at that time, Jim Gambini, talked to Ester after the procedure and shared an illustration of her experience as a sermon illustration. "When I talked with Ester after she got home from the hospital two days after her ordeal, I asked her, 'Were you thankful for those paddles?' At first she said 'No.' But when I asked her what might have happened if they hadn't used the paddles, she said, 'Well, I guess I am thankful for the paddles.' You see, the pain she felt as her heart sped up warned her and motivated her as well as her parents and her doctors to do what needed to be done to fix the problem, namely shocking her heart back into proper rhythm." That also caused pain but it was a "good pain".
We don't like pain. We do all we can to avoid it. In fact I recall years ago reading an article titled, "Life Without Pain" speculating of a time with medications and therapies there would be no more pain. Frankly, although laudible, I really don't think that will ever happen on this side although we are grateful for advances in pain control. And it's not speaking of our future home in heaven, where indeed, "There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Revelation 21:4).
In the daily text the Psalmist makes a statement so contrary to our nature that it requires a second read. In fact you need to read it several times: "It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees." Perhaps we could view pain as a "divine cardiovert", ultimately allowed by God to get our spiritual heart back into proper rythmn.
A blog post on humility speaks about this verse, "This is one of the most difficult Bible verses about humility. No one wants to endure affliction and suffering, even when we know it’s for our own good. We want to learn things the easy way and not have to go through the school of hard knocks. Bible verses like this one are especially difficult for people who are somewhat spoiled and feel entitled to always having an easy life. It takes a lot of humility to say that it was good to go through that hardship or affliction because it made me rely more on God and realize that His plan for my life is better than my own plan." *
This Thanksgiving season let us be thankful for the innumerably good things that have come our way. But let us also pause to see God's goodness and care in the painful experiences as well. Join the Psalmist in proclaiming, "It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees."
Be encouraged today!
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, to authenticate that we are truly Your children, You make us heirs with You and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in Christ's sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. Our glorious eternal inheritance does not come without our participation in the temporal suffering believers are called upon to endure here on earth. We may have to endure mockery and persecution. It may be physical affliction or great financial restraints. We may lose the love and devotion of those whom we hold dear when we take an unyielding stand for You. No matter the price and no matter the suffering may it teach us more about Your decrees and the glory of our suffering for Christ. It is in His name that we pray. Amen.
Update on Ester: How grateful we are for answered prayer! Ester came home about 5:30 last night and we all slept in our own beds. Her oxygen saturation continued to plummet in the 70's without supplemental oxygen so we came home with a tank of oxygen and now are set up oxygen supplies here at home. Ester will undergo a heart catheteriation in the very near future to address the problem of low sats, likely a coil embolization which is a catheter-based procedure that allows precise occlusion of abnormal blood flow in a blood vessel. But for now we're happy to be back in the privacy of our own home resting and healing. We are very grateful for the excellent care Ester receives from Hershey Medical Center when she needs medical intervention. The photo above shows Ester and Mom just as they left the hospital beside the Hershey tree.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Perfect Peace" Video Laura Story
"Thank You Lord, For The Trials That Come My Way" Video A wonderful song that thanks God for trials, highlighting the good that comes from difficulty.
Our daily verse Psalm 119:71 in various translations. (I find this a helpful means of study)
* This was from an online blog in which the writer only identifies himself as "Ted".
Howard Blichfeldt's autumn collection Howard Blichfeldt has been our friend for a number of years now and like so many of you we have met through daily encouragement has himself, along with his wife Sharon, become a source of reliable encouragement. (Howard has given us permission to occasionally share one of his photos in our Daily Encouragement messages.)
Inventing ways to do evil: Last week we shared about a moronic "game" thus far limited it seems to the urban areas of knocking people out as you pass by them. But we heard a report this morning revealing that such senseless evil can also touch our peaceful rural areas. On the same road our Amish friends live a driveby shooter killed a horse that was pulling a buggie. A verse came to mind from Romans 1 describing the characteristics of fallen mankind, "they invent ways of doing evil" (Romans 1:30).
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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