Breast cancer, mastectomy,, Prayer, suffering, life, courage, help, bear, illness, mental, physical,

Comfort and strength

 

Lord, 

Comfort me,
And give me strength,

To face the trials
I must bear;

And may I comfort 
Others, too,

And strengthen them,
When they must share 

The suffering 
None can avoid –  

So we may grow 
Like you.

 

References 

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us (2 Corinthians 1:4, NLT).

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows (John 16:33; NLT).

Comfort each other (1 Thessalonians 5:11; NKJV).

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2; NLT).

Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me? (John 18:11; NLT).

We will be like him (1 John 3:2; NLT).

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Breast cancer, mastectomy,, death, depression, Prayer, suffering, life, courage, help, bear, illness, mental, physical,

I’m nothing

 

How can I say I’m nothing,
When you made me?

How can I feel I’m nothing,
When you care?

How can I hate my life,
When you, Lord, love me?

How can I long for death,
When you are here?

 

References 

I am nothing (Job 40:4; NLT).

You made me (Psalm 119:73; NLT).

He cares about you (1 Peter 5:7; NLT).

I hate my life and don’t want to go on living (Job 7:16; NLT).

He loves us with unfailing love (Psalm 117:2; NLT).

They long for death (Job 3:21; NLT).

God is with us (Matthew 1:23; NLT).

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My mother’s death

 

Last night, my mother died peacefully in her sleep. She was 102, and had been increasingly deaf, blind, bedridden, incontinent and confused for the last few years.  

On hearing the news early this morning, my initial reaction was one of relief that she isn’t suffering any more, though it’s too early to tell what feelings I might have in the longer term about her. I’ve spent many years in therapy working on the consequences of her behaviour towards me, so hopefully that will now help me to cope with her death.

My mother was a complicated, intelligent, energetic and demanding woman. She was very controlling, dominating, angry, frustrated, and emotionally abusive. Throughout, and beyond, my childhood, her unpredictable, explosive rages were utterly terrifying. During these uncontrolled episodes she was verbally aggressive towards those present, and could be could be violent and destructive towards objects nearby.

She was also a very selfish, manipulative and egotistical woman. Despite the efforts I made as an adult to talk to her about her behaviour, and the ways in which it has affected me, she always minimised it, never acknowledging, or apologising for, all the damage she caused.

Recently, I’ve been trying to forget the bad things she did, and to remember instead the good things about my childhood. However, the positives are so few, so undependable, and so short-lived, that I quickly gave up the effort, which felt artificial and unhelpful. 

Well, none of us is perfect. We all have many faults, including me. Fortunately, I started working hard to forgive my mother several years ago, and have continued to pray for her, and try to forgive her, every day. 

Some months ago, I spoke to her privately for the last time about her behaviour, its effects, and my forgiveness. However, by then, she was incapable of replying. I’m glad, though, that I was able to be completely honest with her, after a lifetime of anxiety, fear, dread, panic attacks, depression and physical illness caused by her abuse. May she rest in peace, at last.

 

References

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us (Luke 11:4; NLT).

Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing (Luke 23:34; NLT).

We have all sinned against you (Jeremiah 14:20; NLT).

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Breast cancer, mastectomy,, Prayer, suffering, life, courage, help, bear, illness, mental, physical,

A Gethsemane experience

 

On the day of my mastectomy, as I waited on a trolley outside the anaesthetic room, I was suddenly overwhelmed by a profound terror of suffering and death, just as Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane. I felt completely helpless, despairing and alone, shaking uncontrollably with cold and fear. 

Then my surgeon entered the room in blue scrubs. She must have seen at once how distressed I was, because she came straight over to me, putting her arms around me and bending down to lay her head gently on my chest. She seemed like an angel of comfort and strength. I managed to whisper, through chattering teeth, “I’m so frightened!” She didn’t even speak, just held me as I sobbed helplessly. 

After a time, realising how cold I was, she moved to stand behind me, rubbing my arms to warm me, until I was pushed into an ante-room and quickly, skilfully anaesthetised. 

That evening, after the surgery, I wept again. I felt as if I had experienced something of what Christ suffered in Gethsemane, just as those gazing at a representation of Jesus on the cross occasionally undergo the pain and powerlessness of his crucifixion. 

Next day, however, I realised that rather than we ordinary mortals sometimes sharing what Jesus experienced, it was, in fact, he who fully shared our primeval, human terror in the face of imminent suffering and death.

 Of course, there are major differences between my experience and his. I was facing my profound fear of anaesthesia and surgery solely for my own benefit. Jesus, on the other hand, was facing betrayal, torture and death so our sins could be forgiven. I hope I will never cease to thank him for what he faced and endured for our sake.

 

References

My heart pounds in my chest. The terror of death assaults me. Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking (Psalm 55:4-5; NLT).

They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” He took Peter, James and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little further and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by (Mark 14:32-5; NLT).  

Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood (Luke 22:43-4; NLT).

Angels came and took care of Jesus (Matthew 4:11; NLT).

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1:7; NIV).

God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8, NRSV). 

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Breast cancer, mastectomy,, Prayer, suffering, life, courage, help, bear, illness, mental, physical,

Wilderness

 

When we are in a wilderness
Of sorrow,

Of sickness, anger, grief, despair,                       
Or fear,

Remind us you’ve experienced 
This too, Lord, 

And that you suffer with us,
Always near.

 

References

Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless (Psalm 107; 4; NLT).

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted (Matthew 4:1; NLT).

How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?(Psalm 13:2; NLT).

Sickness: Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip (John 19:1; NLT).

Anger: Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor,  and turned over their tables (John 2:15; NLT).

Grief: Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” (John 11:35-6; NLT).

Despair: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mark 15:34; NLT).

Fear: He was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood (Luke 22:44; NLT).

Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me? (John 18:11; NLT).

In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me (Psalm 23:4; NRSV).

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Seek God

 

Seek God in your suffering,
Seek him in your pain;

Seek him in your anguish,
Seek him: he is near.

Seek God in your wilderness,
Seek him in your fear;

Seek him in your darkness –
You will find him: he is here.

 

References 

Keep on seeking, and you will find (Matthew 7:7; NLT). 

The Kingdom of Heaven is near (Matthew 4:17; NIV).

In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

The kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21; KJV).

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A single, flimsy thread

 

A single, flimsy thread of faith
Will guide us through our sorrows, 
Back to you;

A single, fragile strand of hope
Will lead us through our wastelands,
Back to you;

A single, fraying filament of love
Will bring us through our dying, 
Back to you;

For these weak fibres form a threefold cord, 
Which binds us to your heart forever, Lord.

 

References

Three things will last forever – faith, hope and love (1 Corinthians 13:13; NLT.

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows (John 16:33; NLT).

I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there (Hosea 2:14; NLT).

Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me (Psalm 23:4; KJV).

The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV).

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12; NIV).

He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart (Isaiah 40:11; NLT).

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