When you’re going through Hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill
Did Churchill really say that? Some say no, some say yes. Certainly sounds like something the old curmudgeon would say, but that’s all beside the point today. Today’s point, in part, is:
I’m still going!
The infection I mentioned in my last blog has indeed turned out to not be an infection, and Shaun will have surgery Monday morning. It’s not a terribly invasive surgery, but he’ll be put under general anesthesia and it will be a long day for both of us. The surgery doesn’t take place close to home (well, not my definition of close), which makes it even more difficult for me, since driving is becoming more of an issue these days.
Mom is doing better. Just hoping her infection stays away, at least until I get Shaun squared away.
For me, today consisted of an IV, a very long and tedious meeting with hardly no outcome at all – good, bad, or indifferent – and a Wal-Mart trip that was meant to be relatively quick and inexpensive but ended up being an hour long and three hundred dollars worth. What happened is that I went with the intention of getting seven emergency items, but once I realized I would have to walk nearly every aisle to get those items, I started throwing in all sorts of staples I knew we would need before Shaun was back up to par.
Why go back twice?
Why are you still listening to all my problems? Are you even awake?
I am barely awake. I came home after all of today’s rigamarole and crashed for an hour. Woke up with a rotten headache. Took some children’s Motrin, which is doing a half-hearted job. Ate my weird food. Ordered in everyone else some normal food. And now I’m sitting here staring at the screen as though I have the energy to talk to y’all about something important like Heaven and Hell.
Truth is, I’m not going through Hell. Hell is much more miserable, painful, and torturous than anything I could ever experience here on earth. It’s the rejection of God toward us, void of light, goodness, mercy, grace, and kindness. Do we even realize how much grace, common (for all people) and particular (for God’s people), floods us each day?
Life is hard. For me lately, I could flippantly say it’s Hell-ish. But that would indeed be flippant, not to mention untrue, because God is here, beside me, above me, beneath me, inside me, all around me. He never leaves or forsakes me. I am His and He is mine and I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:38)
The point of life, trials, suffering, and bountiful inconveniences is to whittle our thinking down to one truth:
Christ is enough.
I’ve struggled with this, because the Bible says He will give us all we need. And yet, here I sit, on my umpteenth year of eating the three same foods every day, morning, noon, and night, and trying but not succeeding very well to get the rest of my nutrients through IV’s.
I need food, Lord!
It’s not like I’m requesting Oreos and Pizza Hut Supreme Pizza, extra cheese, please. I’m totes willing to eat foods that taste like cardboard. I only desire to eat a well-rounded diet so as to avoid migraines, debilitating fatigue, dizziness, etc., and an even sicker, punier heart than the one given to me at birth.
The Apostle Paul asked the Lord three times to remove the thorn in his flesh. The answer was always No, My grace is sufficient. I can say I know what that’s like. I’m not even asking anymore. The answer for me is also no, the “messenger of Satan” stays.
But then, so does Jesus.
He stays with me like a parachute stays with a skydiver, to try and bring it down to something we can imagine. Not only is He available when I need Him, He’s my protector, my rescuer, my all in all. Quite literally my lifeline. Could it be that that lesson is more valuable, in light of eternity, than mere food to keep my mortal body functional?
I confess, I wish it didn’t have to be. But I can say that had it not been for gastroparesis and supraventricular tachycardia, complete heart block, celiac disease, and, and, and … I’m not sure I would’ve sought the Lord as deeply as I have. Through the lens of pride and spiritual blindness, I don’t particularly see myself as a hard-hearted, rebellious soul. But I am, because we all are. Perhaps I would have been a reprobate for all eternity had I not been afflicted?
It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I may learn your statutes, says that Psalmist.
Better to be afflicted on earth than to spend an eternity in Hell. The real Hell. Not a no good, horrible, very bad day or week or month or even lifetime. However difficult it gets, nothing that happens on earth can truly qualify as Hell.
Little glimpses of Hell, perhaps. Sickness, dying, having to endure narcissists, rapists, murderers, snotty grocers, lazy, rude patrons, and even a garden full of weeds can be little snapshots of what happens when people deny God. But you know what? We are also blessed with little snapshots of Heaven.
Sunshine. Spring flowers (minus the allergies). Chocolate. Modern medicine – homeopathic, conventional, whatever. Skilled physicians. Clean water. Electricity. Forced air heat. Any kind of heat. Puppies. Babies.
I babysat my sixth grandchild yesterday. She was fussy. Mom was gone. Brother was gone. She was yawning and clearly getting tired. The house was quiet and she seemed a little bored and unsure of what was going on, probably because the last time I babysat her, she refused the bottle and I ended up spoon feeding the stubborn little thing, nearly choking her in the process. She eventually liked the idea of spoon feedings, but not until I put on some demos via my daughter’s electric keyboard to distract her from thinking she was being killed.
Music, to her, was a slice of Heaven.
I remembered that when she got fussy yesterday. So I wrapped her chilly legs up in a blanket, pulled up Pandora, and soon, Fernando Ortega was serenading her. Upon hearing the first note, she stopped being such a wiggle worm. In fact, she didn’t move even one muscle. She stared at the phone as though it was Mike Wazowski in the flesh while I rocked slightly back and forth, back and forth. Within minutes, she was out. I leaned back, rested my elbow on a fluffy pillow, cradling her in the crook of my arm, and continued to enjoy Fernando Ortega while she slept like a … well … like a baby.
That. Is a touch of Heaven.
So yeah, I’m going through what we might nonchalantly call Hell as of late. But woven in all that “Hell” is slice after slice of Heaven, if I am but open to seeing and partaking of it.
*Open my eyes that I may see,
Glimpses of truth Thou has for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.
*by Clara H. Scott