I am facing a complicated spinal surgery next week and then another about eight weeks later.
It is a difficult time now for me, anticipating what is to come and it will be even more difficult during the recovery time later.
My daughter sent me a piece of writing by John Donne which outlined his thoughts when he was very ill and which initiated his well known “No man is an iland”. He said “As sicknes is the greatest misery, so the greatest misry of sicknes, is solitude.”
And so, at this time I, like Donne, have to face these surgeries alone. No person in my family or my circle of friends can accompany me through or lift any of the burdens I must carry during the time to come.
Or do I?
I don’t need to face these coming experiences alone. God has promised to be with me at all times.
And sometimes I believe that, like now when I am considering the possibility, and opening my heart and head to the promise that God will be with me at all times.
But then My faith fails me and belief leaves me and I feel so alone.
In Rev. John’s sermon on Sunday he spoke about doubting Thomas and his experience of being utterly overcome with belief as he faced Jesus personally.
He then pointed out that “according to Paul Tillich, doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.” He advised us to explore our doubts and let that exploration set us on a path of finding the depths of our faith.
That seems to me to be very good advice: advice I intend to follow. Each time I do anything related to my relationship with God, God is generous in responding to even the weakest of my calls. I am aware of God’s benevolent warmth issuing out upon me. I don’t even need to be reaching out to God or asking for God’s help. Any time my head or heart stirs a little in the area of God-thought there is a response that totally overshadows the effort I am making and I am swept away by God’s willingness to embrace me in response to the slightest flicker of belief.
I don't pretend to understand what Paul Tillich meant or what he intended we should do. I just know that as soon as I “look” in the general direction of God, there is the most magnanimous response and my faith is restored.
That is why it is so important to keep up fellowship with other Christians, keep reading the Bible, keep reading the words of Christian writers and most importantly, keep praying. Not fine-sounding prayers but true, from the heart, honest about our needs, prayers.
As I said, I am facing surgery and I’m not sure when I will be writing next. Until then, God’s peace and blessing be yours.