Archive for the ‘tumour’ Tag

DURING THE OPERATION…

My wife is currently in surgery having her tumour removed. I have fulfilled my pledge not to blog about her condition prior to the operation. However, I feel it’s important to make clear how powerfully God has been at work during this time. I want to do it now because I don’t know the outcome of the operation currently ongoing. I have every expectation, and would do with all good reason even if I had no trust in God, that things will go fine and that full recovery will ensue. However, I don’t want what I write to be perceived as coloured by the knowledge of a happy ending, or otherwise.

The fact is, to this point, my wife and I (I may just call her N for this post! I don’t want to use her name, despite the fact most readers will know her, as she has nothing to do with the blog and deserves her cybersphere anonymity until she chooses otherwise!) have seen such great growth and so many blessings. I know I have touched upon it before, but it really bears repeating. This has truly been a humbling season and one that I think will have greatly strengthened our continuing witness and testimony.

Blessings of Support

Let me make absolutely clear that the church doesn’t have a monopoly on compassion or practical love. To pretend otherwise would be to insult the cards, texts, chats, offers of food and, well, the love of our many non-Christian mates, family members, colleagues and, in N’s case, the brilliant community she shares in at the gym (crazily fit career women who each set their alarms before 6 every morning in order to make the same classes – it forges a strong common bond!). Had we never been to church we would still have appreciated a great deal of great support.

Even so, this is the time to be part of a church! Particularly a good one. A lot of atheist websites, often tarnished by personal experience for which some professed Christians should be highly ashamed, work from the starting point that church is a negative, tedious, grasping, judgmental, hypocritical body at every level – something they are doing a good service by liberating people from. To them I would cry out that on every level, in every way, you would do the cruellest and most brutal thing to take this community from N and I! Where to start? 

·        There’s the weekly comfort, prayers, encouragement and hugs from open, compassionate, honest people who care.

·        There’s the food rota that sees me fed for the next two weeks!

·        There’s the pair of absolute legends who have given up days to free us from DIY hell and get the kitchen sorted for Nina’s convalescence (the bathroom and bedroom are next in their sights!)

·        There’s the whole group of church elders who packed into our tiny lounge – sitting on the floor and allowing the cat to walk all over them – as they prayed together with N

·        There’s N’s prayer triplet in which she can confide and confess

·        There’s our small study group who have prayed, planned and done much to build N up via study of God’s Word

·        There was dinner at Perks’ house and the amazing e-mail he sent just prior to the op. Very precious to N I know – this is a pastor who truly gets involved (and Pete – if you’re reading – you guys have been absolute stars too)

·        There’s the church member working at the hospital who spent time with N outside of visiting hours both last thing last night and first thing this morning. And another training at the hospital who just now texted offering to provide N with any supplies she needs!

·        There’s the almost ridiculous number of texts, cards, letters, gifts etc we have both received – sometimes from people we barely know!

This is not just nice people being nice out of a sense of duty. Every part of this points to Christ and affirms the love of God. The kindest thing of all has been the sharing of Bible verses and insights that N spent last night looking over and feeling powerfully protected. These are people changed and motivated by the gospel. These are people committed to counter-cultural servant-heartedness. And they have served as wings to carry us through a difficult time.

Blessings of growth

There is more to write about this later. I will be less forthcoming as some of it is private. But let me just say that N has changed. So many prayers have been answered. She has such a love of her fellow Christians. She is so outward-looking and keen to serve others as she has been served. She is so hungry for the Bible. She is so confident in the Lord’s protection – all the way into theatre. She has always been a naturally stressed and anxious person. The good night’s sleep she got last night, her calmness approaching general anaesthetic and brain surgery… even the grateful heart she has having lost half of her hearing for good; it would all have been impossible to comprehend before the incredible journey of the past few months.

As Reformed (repressed?) Evangelical types, we are often accused of underplaying the role of the Spirit (laughably by some of not even ‘having’ the Spirit!) but let me make this clear – N may not prophesy in tongues or swing from the rafters in church, but she could not be more clearly Spirit-filled if indeed she had a halo of flame! Overnight there is a completely new fluency and familiarity in prayer. Overnight there is a desire to smash idols and share the gospel. God changes lives – and His plans are better than ours.

And finally…I sat next to a man at the London Mens’ Convention. He asked me to pray for his wife and I asked him to pray for mine. He spoke of his wife’s deep depression. It all began with a medical ailment that she suffered last year… and it caused her to lose hope – to abandon hope in a situation she considered beyond the pale. That grieves me. It has bugged me ever since. It was so different to my account. That woman needs someone, wherever she is, to grab a hold of her and to turn her around. The practical love of Christians should point to the Jesus of the Bible. Jesus points us to assurance, victory and life everlasting, even as he himself bleeds and dies in fearful agony. This life can be tough. And painful. And lonely. And frightening. But, as Christians we are enabled by the Spirit to be those who show ‘patience in the face of suffering’ because we can see that ‘the Lord is full of compassion and mercy’ (James 5) and that our eternal blessings are assured. This is our greatest witness, and it’s a witness that has been powerfully noted anew by many people around us in the weeks of preparation for this operation. God is truly good and to be trusted.

 

 I’ll let you know how the op goes…

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ABOUT A TUMOUR

Well I’d better substantiate that title eh? The tumour is real, not metaphorical. The tumour is in my wife’s head. The tumour is the size of a cherry. The tumour is, thank God, benign. The tumour is on her right auditory nerve. The tumour is resting against her brain. If it grows any bigger it will exert pressure to the brain and will have to be removed, at considerable risk to her facial and balance nerves. Even if not removed, the tumour has accounted for the hearing in her right ear. We learned of the tumour on my 30th birthday earlier this week. She can feel it in her head. She is constantly aware of it. The tumour is making its presence felt. This is not good… although it could certainly be worse (a great word, ‘benign’!).

A couple of things to say. First, if you’re reading this and you know her, please don’t be silent about it around her. This is not a taboo subject. It’s very much the big news of the week, she’s trying to get used to the idea, and she wants to talk about it and to be supported by church and friends. Second, as with all I write about, I want to relate the above to my walk with God, particularly as regards the whole idea of ‘bad things’ happening.

I’ve recently been faced, on a number of occasions, with the age-old question, ‘how can a good God (or indeed a God who actually exists at all) allow suffering to occur?’. It’s sometimes asked with smugness, sometimes with hurt and anger. My answer is this. No part of the Bible, or of the teaching or experiences I’ve undergone, lead me to expect an easy life devoid of tough times. If God’s word did actually promise health and good fortune then perhaps I’d have greater cause to curse him when this failed to materialise. However, as it is, Hebrews 12 tells me to ‘endure hardship as discipline’, Romans 5 tells me that ‘suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character’ and Ecclesiastes 3 assures me there is ‘a time to weep’. We are told to focus upon life after death, on a better world to come, and to store our riches there, whilst not investing too much in this mortal coil. We are told that man is fallen on account of sinful rebellion, and that creation with him ‘groans’. We know that we are subject, for now, to the curse of suffering and eventual death. God sent His son to share in our sufferings, to die within our broken world that we might know something better and everlasting. It would be illogical, stupid even, to then turn on Him and spurn the everlasting gift on account of the short-term brokenness He came to fix.

So let me make this clear. However this plays out, and as I come to terms with my wife having this unwanted and potentially damaging intruder inside her skull, I will whole-heartedly praise God. I would do so if the tumour had been malignant. I will praise Him because he acted in mercy to save us from a world of sin, of tumours and of difficult choices that we now face.