No matter where you look, you see, trouble, turmoil, confusion, hurt, hate… Police shootings in Charlotte and Tulsa reveal the precarious position of our country. But wait! This is an election year. There will be big changes and opportunity! I don’t think so and neither do most of the people I meet.
I think that Facebook is a fair barometer of people’s sentiments. There is not a whole lot of love for either of the major presidential candidates. You don’t have to go very far to hear someone’s opinion about the sad state of affairs in this world. There are lots of venues for people to vent. Our culture continues its unrelenting pressure for freedom of expression, tolerance and conformity. Christians readily recognize this rebellion against God. Many are concerned and rightly take a stand for biblical principles.
Nevertheless, folks in our culture are quick to express their opinions, letting others know how they feel. It was in the midst of all this upheaval that I began another reading of the book of Psalms. The second Psalm is a clear expression of how God sees this turmoil.
As you read, consider how this Psalm speaks to our current cultural circumstances.
1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”
7 I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
I began writing this blog on Friday evening, September 23. Because my aid was coming at 9 PM, I shut down my computer anticipating that I would review the details of Psalm 2 the next morning.
But God’s plan was different from mine. A little before midnight, I began feeling distress in my neck, shoulders and head. This was more than a match for my rarely used lidocaine and ibuprofen. The throbbing escalated into the most “discomfort” (medical jargon for pain) I have ever experienced. At the emergency room, on a scale of 1 to 10, I gave it a 9.5!
I frequently experience moderate aching due to overuse of my neck muscles or being “mispositioned” in my wheelchair. But I was in agony. Over the next couple of hours, I experienced some relief but the aching persisted. I praise the Lord for the reprieve and for the quick and compassionate action of Judy, my exhausted wife and my daughter Sarah and her husband Ben. So, at about midnight we headed off to the Emergency Department of the VA Medical Center.
Although I was merely concerned with relieving my pain, the physician discovered a very high white blood cell count, a telltale sign of infection. He immediately started me on some very strong intravenous antibiotics. Along with the hospital residents, the physician suspected meningitis. Thus, at about 4 AM I realized I was going to be admitted for unexpected hospital stay. By now, Judy, having been up since 6 AM the day before, was nearing exhaustion. She was able to come home and was in bed asleep by about 5 AM.
To make a long story short, I was admitted to intensive care, received two very strong IV antibiotics and reacted to one. Because of my fatigue, drug fever and weakness, Saturday was a blur. I was appreciative of the love demonstrated by Judy and the compassion of our pastor, Jeff Ferguson.
By now, meningitis was ruled out. Sunday afternoon I felt a little bit better but still very tired. God demonstrated his love to us through a couple sets of visitors from our church and a church where I have preached regularly in the past. On Sunday evening. I again wrestled with a high fever. The change of one antibiotic resulted in rapid improvement. Two more days of resting and observation, and I was ready for discharge.
I had previously arranged for a six day stay in the VA hospital at Richmond for the purpose of respite. Judy had an opportunity to go to Philadelphia, attend a conference and then visit family and friends. Somehow this respite care was canceled. We learned of this while one of the elders of our church was visiting. Obviously, we were disappointed and so we prayed together. Before long, the nursing supervisor of the intensive care unit told us that she was interacting with the supervisors of the spinal cord injury (SCI) unit in Hampton – they were attempting to make a bed available for me. On other occasions, I had attempted to be admitted to that unit, but was never able. Praise the Lord for working out these details and encouraging us through answered prayer and the kindness of VA staff.
So the next day, I was discharged from the hospital and admitted to the SCI unit at Hampton for six days of respite. For the next six days, I received every good care at the VA hospital, saw several local visitors and came home for one afternoon to attend my grandsons 10th birthday party. All in all, it was a good experience and I observed the Lord answer many specific prayers. Judy had a great time at the conference and renewed acquaintances with old friends. She was also able to contact me on FaceTime so that I could interact with my favorite uncle.
It was great to be at home and in familiar surroundings. Although we thought we had the aide situation temporarily resolved, it remains to be an ongoing challenge. The issue was exasperated by the tropical storm Matthew. Not only did we not have assistance for the entire weekend, both Judy and I had responsibilities on Sunday morning at church. Praise the Lord for the strength that he provides (especially for Judy). We were especially blessed by his protection during this past weekend. It has been reported that over 600,000 people were without electricity. I am utterly dependent on electricity (humanly speaking); my special mattress, hospital bed, CPAP and chargers for necessary equipment are each power by electricity. We were very grateful for God’s protection and for no disruption of electrical power.
Thanks for reading on as I seem to ramble regarding the recent details of the last couple weeks. I did so because I wanted to highlight the frequent and multiple blessings of the Lord to Judy and me. Further, and more importantly, our experiences perfectly illustrate the truth of Psalm 2. The circumstances of life may appear chaotic and out of control. Situations only seems like bedlam. Behind all of the turmoil, through all of the trouble and confusion, the Lord God is patiently unfolding his plan to exalt his Son and bring greater blessing to his people.
So, although we often face many difficulties, the Lord provides and sustains us as we look to him. It is so very easy for us to be consumed with the details of living that we are often oblivious to the benefits, blind to the blessings and answers to prayer, which our loving Heavenly Father pours out upon us. So, recent difficulties have shown us that they are opportunities for eyewitness accounts of God’s faithfulness and lovingkindness to his people. Let me encourage you to take a minute and consider the recent work of God on your behalf. Things may seem to be out of control – they are not. Take a moment to consider the benefits God repeatedly pours out upon you. You will be surprised by God’s abundant grace to you. It’s all a part of his plan.