Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Learning from Difficulties

"Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel...because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. Philippians 1:12-14

It has been an incredibly hectic, stressful and emotional week for me. If you have dealt with aging and ill parents which I suppose most everyone ultimately does, then you can imagine the situation. A stepfather who has stage four prostate cancer and is falling repeatedly at home and refuses to tell his doctor or go to the hospital. A mother who is ill herself trying to cope but overwhelmed with details. And me, a daughter just far enough away geographically to do little more than offer advice on the phone. Some issues have been resolved for the moment. My stepdad is in the hospital getting some evaluation and treatment. My mother is with me getting necessary care but also good nutrition and positive mental stimulation which was no doubt lacking at home. Much is still in process. Where will they live? What care do they need? How will we best utilize their resources? However, as I reflect over the week and pray for their well being, I am struck by several things:

Having a support system is critical in critical times. How I have leaned on prayer and friends.

Planning ahead is the best plan. I had already researched some choices and had many things in place.

Be flexible and open to new ideas and possibilities. Even the best laid plans may not work out and may need to be revamped.

Isn't this what Paul is saying in Phillipians 1:12-14? Despite the circumstances, he continues to reach out to his network of believers, he continues to plan for the future and he adjusts to his new circumstances, always leaning on God's guidance. This is the joy found in suffering. Not that we seek out or in any way relish the suffering, but that we continually focus on the true goal: a continuing relationship with Christ and a sharing of that with others.

A man of character finds a special attractiveness in difficulty since it is only by coming to grips with difficulty that he can realize his potentialities. Charles De Gaulle

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