Monday, April 30, 2012

Tenderly


She was reclining; her legs stretched out, trying to find a comfortable position.  The lady had beautiful, short grey hair, which complimented her bright-colored sweater and perfectly applied make-up. She kept looking up at the bag dripping slowing into her IV.  Her husband, perched on a stool by her chair, tenderly held her hand and softly stroked her wrist with his thumb. As he held her hand as a young bride, he now lovingly caressed that same hand, assuring her that “everything was going to be all right.”  She gently patted his hand and smiled.
            This scenario plays itself over and over in the chemo room.  Anxious family members hover around trying to do something to make their loved one comfortable.  Drinks are brought in, blankets gently placed on outstretched legs, brown bags with sandwiches are opened; all offered with tenderness and compassion. 
            Last week, I noticed a family of three adult children sitting in the waiting room as their sweet mother walked behind the nurse pushing their elderly father in a wheelchair.  He was staring straight ahead, oblivious to the attention.  After he was settled, his wife walked back and forth, making sure that he was comfortable.  How many years has she loved and tenderly nurtured this man?
            We are made in God’s own image.  As he lovingly nurtures and loves us, we too, nurture and love each other, never more so than when a loved one is sick or hurting.  Tenderness is defined as kind, sympathetic, and merciful—all traits that could be included as one of the fruits of the Spirit.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22,23
Yes, God’s Spirit is definitely in that room, bringing out the best in the nurses, the patients, and the family members who brought them there.  Gently, He moves throughout the room, touching each person with His love as He tenderly looks through the eyes of his servants.  In Matthew 10:1, Jesus gives his disciples the power to tenderly care for the bruised and hurt lives. (Msg)  That power is the same today as it was in the New Testament.  God’s healing and tender love is shared through a touch, a smile, and a small kindness.  Thank you, Lord, for your love.
            

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Body of Christ Working Together


Samantha is only a young teenager.  During praise and worship at church  last Sunday, she tentatively stepped on stage.  There was something she wanted to say.  She didn’t think it was very profound, but felt God’s leading in sharing it.  At spring break, her family went to an amusement park to ride the roller coaster.  Now, she had been on roller coasters in the past, but nothing like this ride.  Her dad wanted her to experience it with him.  Trusting her father, she agreed.  As the ride sped up, she looked down to see her white knuckles wrapped around the railing.  Then she found her self upside down!! She trusted her dad!  She began yelling at him, ‘I’m going to get you after this!”  She was terrified.  How could her father do this to her?  Of course, they ended the ride safely.  She explained her walk with Jesus was a lot like this.  It was scary and exciting all at the same time.  She trusted Him, but sometimes she just wasn’t sure where He was taking her or why.  Her courage in sharing this touched all of us in church.  It certainly hit a chord in me.  I was sitting there in church listening and shivering.  Shivering because my white blood cells were plummeting.

Yes, it seemed like my last treatment was not being kind to my body.  I started running fever and felt terrible.  Going to the doctor the next day for my weekly treatment, I was still running fever and my blood count was too low to continue the next treatment. Discouragement began to set in.

In the mean time, on the other side of the country, I received this email from Christine from Women’s Bible CafĂ©: Let God work....and be still. Keep your focus on God...look UP....and He will heal. You're on a roller coaster with the safety belts
attached firmly....God will never let go.”

Why does it still amaze me that God knows what He’s doing?  From two sides of the country, I received a special Word from Him.  This is truly how the Body of Christ works.  He uses each one of us to be His eyes, mouth, and ears to encourage and edify each other.  Sometimes we are hesitant to share a Word with a friend who is going through a difficult time, thinking that it really is nothing.  But, you never know how much that Word might mean to your special friend.

So, you and I ride that roller coaster, fingers clutched tightly and knuckles bleached white.  We are assured that He has clicked that safety belt and fastened our harness.  Hold on, it’s going to be an amazing ride.  Just remember, “to look UP”.



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I Will Remember


It started me thinking.  My daughter, son, and I were sitting in the kitchen talking, when my daughter asked, “How come all people aren’t healed?”  This was an honest question and it deserved an honest answer.  As Christians, we believe in prayer.  We believe that our God listens to us and answers our prayers.  We know that Jesus healed the sick—that was a part of His ministry.  Miracles happened and people believed. 
            I believe in miracles.  Those two adult children, sitting around the kitchen bar are proof of that.  My daughter was born one month premature.  She developed Hyaline Membrane Disease where the lungs are covered with something like a plastic bag.  In the 70’s there was not a lot they knew to do to prevent it.  They could only place the baby on oxygen and hope that the lungs would begin functioning correctly.  For several days, she was placed on 100% oxygen.  The doctor told us that he feared if she continued at that high level, she would suffer brain damage or blindness.  But, she couldn’t breathe on her own.  That day, I called my prayer warriors.  I asked them to specifically pray that at 4:00 that afternoon, they would turn her oxygen down.  I made the call to the hospital at 4:30.  I will never forget what the nurse told me.  “Mrs. Hamilton, we can’t believe it, but we are able to start turning your babies’ oxygen down.”
            When my son was born, the pediatrician “just happened” to be in the nursery when my baby stopped breathing.  The doctor stayed with him all night long.  I remember the nurse coming in to tell me that there was a problem.  I couldn’t get out of bed because of an epidural, so all I could do was pray.  I reached over and opened the Bible beside me on the nightstand to this scripture: weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5.  The nurse came in the next morning to tell me that my baby was going to be fine.
            About that same time my daddy was diagnosed with lung cancer.  He had been a smoker all of his life.  I prayed, oh how I prayed, for my daddy, but God didn’t heal him.  Through all of that, however, God gave me an amazing glimpse of heaven.  I was alone with my daddy when he died.  I will never forget the look on his face when he took his last breath.  It was if he saw someone that he hadn’t seen in a long time.    
            There have been so many answered prayers throughout the years.  All I know to do is trust in the Lord.  There’s no magic formula to “getting healed”.  God’s Word just gives us many scriptures on healing.  I can only stand on them.  I know that we all will die, and I’m certainly not afraid to go to heaven, but I pray that God will give me more years to be with my precious grandchildren and finish my work here on earth.
            So, in the meantime, I want to have a cheerful heart because it is good medicine. (Proverbs 17:22).  And I pray: Lord, by such things people live; and my spirit finds life in them too. You restored me to health and let me live. (Isaiah 38:16)
I will continue to pray for all of the precious people on my prayer list who are fighting cancer.  God is Jehovah-Rapha.  He is the God Who Heals. 
            

Monday, April 9, 2012

By His Stripes


Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:4,5

Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness by whose stripes you were healed. 1Peter 2:22-24


For the last three months, I have claimed this scripture.  My healing comes from the very stripes that Jesus suffered.  It’s not easy to contemplate the suffering of Jesus, but it is necessary for us to do so in order to fully understand the sacrifice that he offered for us.

On Good Friday, I watched The Passion of Christ for the first time.  Honestly, I haven’t wanted to watch it, but for some reason I was compelled to experience Christ's passion. I needed to know the extent of the suffering that has allowed me to claim my healing.  I cried.  I still can’t comprehend the agony that Christ had to suffer for me….for the entire world.  I felt so unworthy.  But, Peter says that because Jesus bore our sins on the tree, we have died to our sins and now have the ability to live for righteousness—to be right with God.

Isaiah says that “by His stripes we are healed” and in 1 Peter it says, “you were healed”.  Because “it was finished” by Jesus, our healing has been accomplished.  I will never take this for granted.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Do I Feel Alone?


It took me by surprise.  Honestly, I had never really thought about it.  The other day, my two friends, Nancy and Emma, and I were sitting upstairs in Nancy’s TV room eating coconut pie, when Nancy asked me, “Do you ever feel alone?  I stopped to think a minute.  It’s true—no one can walk this walk for me. Even though I have the support of my wonderful family, church, and friends, I am the one who has to ultimately walk into that chemo room and face this cancer. 

Do I feel alone?  No, I really don’t.  Because—I’m not.  Jesus has been my companion for as long as I can remember.  He’s my sounding board, my shoulder to cry on, my friend.  We’ve met every morning for years, me—sitting in my chair, Him—just here somewhere.  Some mornings I could reach out and touch Him; other mornings, not so much.  But, I can honestly say, now that I really think about it, that I do not feel alone. 

One night several weeks ago, after the first day of my last chemo treatment, I woke up sweating.  Chemo and steroids don’t bode well for a good night’s rest.  My husband was sleeping in the other room so that he could, well, sleep.  There wasn’t going to be a lot of sleeping with me that night.  I sat up on the side of the bed.  The window was open so I could hear the soft sounds of the night and feel the cool breeze.  In my spirit, I felt the Lord right there in the room with me.  The word, cleansed, came to my mind.  What a strange word.  “What are you saying to me, Lord?” In my spirit, I believe that the Lord was telling me that He was cleansing my body with the healing drips and His peaceful healing presence.  I got out and peeked out the window at the beautiful moon.  No, I did not feel alone.  God’s presence was so palatable that I could just reach out and touch Him.  I was not afraid.