Saturday, December 6, 2008

Our Value to the World

Today's Prayer

Dear God, I have felt emotional pain and I have experienced physical pain. I have seen the affects of all kinds of pain in other people's lives. It is not pretty. I hope and pray that I will always be able to reach out to others, think of them, think of good things, think of you, rather than focus on my own pain. When I am able to reach out and help someone else, my spirit is filled with joy, happiness, and satisfaction. It takes my mind off my own pain and problems, and directs it to a better perspective. Please minister through me to ease the pain of my family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, church leaders, whoever needs a special touch. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.


Labor Alone Will Not Satisfy
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2, by Os Hillman

"All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the soul is not satisfied" (Eccl. 6:7 NKJV).

How would you feel about yourself if your job was removed from you tomorrow? Let's imagine that your income wouldn't change, just what you did everyday.

One of the schemes that Satan uses in the life of the Christian worker is to get him/her to view their value solely based on the type of work they do and how well they do it. We call this performance-based acceptance. It says "As long as I have a good job and I do it well, I have self-esteem."

This is a "slippery slope" and can be used by Satan to keep our focus on our performance versus Christ. We are never to find our value in what we do. Instead, our value is solely based on who we are in Christ. The apostle Paul wrestled with this after he came to faith in Christ. He had grown to the top of his field as a Jewish leader.

"If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith" (Phil 3:4-9).

You'll never really know to the degree that your self-esteem is rooted in your work until your work is removed. Unemployment, illness, or a financial crisis can lead to job loss.

Why not evaluate where you are in this area of your life. Affirm with God your desire to be known by Who you know versus what you do.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Trading Places

Did you ever dream of trading places with someone? I have. I'd trade places with my friend, ****. Well, not places, just ALS. I'd trade MY ALS for HER ALS. You see, **** is in their early 40s and has a rapid progression of ALS. She was recently told that if she does not vent and/or get a feeding tube her life expectancy is 6-12 more months. She started having ALS symptoms in July 2006 and was not diagnosed until January 2007. Six months more would put the time frame under 3 years from symptom-onset to death.

I recently saw my neurologist and was told that my ALS is extremely slow-progressing. He feels that I am likely to be among the 10% of ALS patients that live more than 10 years from diagnosis. I've already gone more than 4 years from the first noticeable symptoms, and just over 3 years from diagnosis.

To illustrate what a "slow" progression looks like (albeit under "ideal" circumstances"), famed theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking (diagnosed at age 21 with ALS) went 22 years before going on a ventilator at the age of 43. He is now age 66.

Here's the kicker. The "journey" will be the same. **** is just getting from "point A" to "point B" on "the express". I'm taking the "pony express".

**** has a close, supportive family and graduations, weddings and grandchildren on the horizon. **** is a veteran, and recently the VA ruled that ALL ALS is now a service-related disease. She will have the health care benefits that will be needed for the long journey.

**** has lived in their community all their life. Her parents are both still alive. While they are divorced, both her father and mother are remarried. Both sets of "parents" live nearby. **** has two teenage children and her spouse was able to recently take an early retirement from a major national corporation which came with a generous severance package and retirement benefits.

**** retired from her job after her ALS diagnosis. She has a sufficient Social Security Disability income, that when added with her spouse's severance package and retirement, give them the means and ability to maximize the time that **** has left. They could travel and do all those things they couldn't do while they were working at their jobs.

What **** doesn't have is time.

I, on the other hand, have time. However, I don't have family support. I am struggling to live on 115% of the poverty level while attempting to meet the needs of a disabled child. Emotionally and financially I am pretty short on resources. Why am I the one who will languish?

I don't believe God chooses to give us ALS, nor does He choose to give one person resources and another one lack. "It rains on the just and the unjust." Matthew 5:45. Still, if I could, I'd trade ALS with ****.

People say how much "better it is for Christopher" that I will be around longer, and I agree…. to a point. Right now, it is much better. When I get to the point where I can't feed myself, dress myself or take care of my personal hygiene (which will happen and will be a "chapter" that will be much longer than ****'s), I beg to differ. How much HARDER will that be on all of us?

God provides what we need, not what we want. It just all seems frustrating and unfair to me tonight.

Love, Claudia