Dark Days

Thank you all for your concerns for me and my ant bite!  I’m guessing you Americans quietly put this on your list as to why you’ll never visit us, never mind that we got absolutely No Sympathy from my Aussie friends, telling me how much more horrific their ant stories were than mine. Even my grandson declares that he was bitten not once but three times, and furthermore had to be brave because he was with his mates!

Truth be known, this week has had a lot more than ant bites to be concerned about. God has been doing His ‘Sovereign’ thing in the illness of several near and dear friends.

Now I realize that we are, after all, circling our 70’s, and because of that, these things are going to become more common because of our predictable mortality.  Nevertheless I have to confess that it’s been hard to see God’s Hand in what our unchurched friends call “senseless tragedies”. We already know several who are doing daily battles with cancer, but this week was a real blow.

One friend’s young adult son has been diagnosed with a very rare form of “heart cancer”.  I’m not making this up.  There really is such a thing and it’s very serious.  Another friend in our Bible study has just been diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease.  He is younger than us and totally immersed in a daily faith that puts us to shame. Somehow, a part of me thinks that these people should be exempt from all this. Sickness should be for the bad guys only.

Why the young?  Why the good??

I have to admit, some of this shock and anger has taken us back to our own son’s diagnosis of leukemia at the age of 15.  It would lead to his death just 8 months later and in the words of as C.S. Lewis, “It wasn’t so much that I stopped believing in God, but I began to believe terrible things about Him”.

Again I say, “Why do the good die young? Why why why……”

And then if things weren’t bad enough on a personal level, our country here is suffering a crippling drought, exacerbated by out of control bushfires.  We woke this morning to smoke in our lungs and images of singed koalas on the news.

During this week, I was drawn to Philippians 1:6 in my daily reading where I found, marked in my Bible, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”.

And then in the margin of my Bible I had written in, “1992, Adopting Nicki”.

We’d been trying to adopt another child for years before Trevor died and we figured we better get on with it since we were already in our early 40’s. Unfortunately things weren’t going well and we were wondering if it would ever come to fruition when I read and marked that verse.

How could Paul have such “confidence” when he himself was about to be martyred?  Later he says in the famous verse (1:21),

“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain”.

Heavy stuff for a spoiled child like me, and yet, now when I see this mark in my Bible over twenty five years later, I realize it’s true.  God did ’see us through’ the bad stuff and let us continue living, and not only that, but has let us continue being His pampered children.

But this week, the black is back, covering our lives with fear and sadness.  I don’t know what to say to our friends.  Somehow I feel like saying something like, “It’ll be all right” or “God loves you”  isn’t going to help them much.

I seem to remember that the only answer God gave Job in response to all his troubles was the famous passage, “Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me! “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?

And then both of Tony’s sermons today were threaded through with this theme. In the morning it was “The Silence of God” and in the afternoon Japanese service it was “The Excuses of Moses”. I guess he’s hurting too.  At one point he referenced the verse in Isaiah 55:8-11where God says,  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Thanks for praying with us for these friends, and all the ones you know who are being treated ‘badly’, at least from our childish perspective. God is indeed Sovereign and for that we’re thankful.
And thanks for caring about us too.  We’ll be all right in His time.

Marsha

PS:  Next week we’ll be in Fiji (If you look on a map, it’s a tiny group of dots about 4 hours east of Australia). Tony’s been asked to present his Anagaion Bible study to a few churches there. We’re excited and nervous as well, having never been there and not knowing what to expect, but I’ll try to get you a report!

Stay tuned and please pray that we get on our standby flight as we’re already scheduled to meet the first pastor (who’s leaving the country just hours after we land).  The pastor is asking Tony to preach for him the next day, so it’ll be good if we can make the connection!

PPS: If you don’t hear from us next week, don’t panic, we may not have any internet.

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