Sunday, January 4, 2015

THANKS be to God

Article first published as From pain to gain: A shift in focus on December 19, 2014.

For more than a month, pain has dominated my world as I experience abdominal pain I haven’t encountered before. Even in one of my most critical health conditions, five years ago, and the subsequent gradual process of recovery, the pain is more on emotional and spiritual, less in physical. This time it cuts across all other aspects. In fact, I was supposed to undergo surgery because of gallstones as observed in the ultra sound. With reservation, I took heed of the advice consoling myself that is the only way to get rid of the pain. Because there was also a pancreatic cyst in the ultra sound, the surgeon recommended CT scan first so that he can include the tail end of pancreas in the operation.

Much to our amazement, the gallstones disappeared in the CT scan. But the joy was short lived as another CT scan was recommended – the result of which highlighted the pancreatic cyst. Diagnostic operation was recommended as sure method for biopsy to determine if the cyst is malignant. I was caught off-guard. Unprepared because of my assumption that I would be excused from other illness having not fully recovered yet from previous one in almost all aspects. Considering all scenarios even the worst, with my wife’s consent, I decided to leave the hospital and take a rest, meditate, pray, try nature’s healing process at home. I want to have more time with God, especially that earlier I have inspiring experiences with Him . I even prayed for more opportunities to publicly bear witness to God’s faithfulness to me and my family.

Yes, I long to do that since I survived the aforementioned critical periods in our life. I want to stress God’s hand in my healing. Since my condition is volatile yet, I shelve it for a while until my full recovery to make it real, powerful and with full confidence. However, observing the very gradual healing process, I decided to start doing it in every opportunity to preach and teach. At the back of my mind, with my age, full recovery may not come and I’ll forever lose by default. While I keep on believing and hoping for it, I also started to be realistic.

Indeed, opportunities came. Lots of speaking engagements in line with respective themes on God’s faithfulness and thanksgiving. I have gone to Bacolod City after five years during the Foundation Day of the First Bethany Church. I was privileged to be the speaker in the CBMA Capiz Chapter Assembly in Maayon, Capiz. And lately, at the  Baptist Church of Forward in Badiangan as Thanksgiving Sunday speaker. This is the church which adopted me as member almost 40 years ago because of a very productive ministry with young people during our Gospel Team while still a seminarian in Convention Baptist Bible College.

I grabbed each opportunity to boldly proclaim Gods faithfulness even in pain and sufferings. Although not used to a prescriptive sermon, I even made an acrostic to emphasize my point in one of my sermons. i.e.THANKS: Trust God at all times even in bad times,Hope that never end e.g. hoping against hope, Accept realities even if harsh, Never give up, Keep the faith and Shift your focus.

I feel blessed and pray to God for more opportunity to bear witness on His faithfulness. I even thought of reactivating my blogs to broaden its reach.Unexpectedly, however, I found myself in another crisis situation where I am entangled now- a painful one i.e. literally. While considering the worst scenario, deep within is a hope that I will still survive. The comments on facebook particularly those who offered prayers for my recovery inspire me to hold on. Of course, there were times when I cried to God like a child when the pain lingered more than expected disturbing even my sleep. Until I remembered the acrostics I made on THANKS and started to internalize each point of the word.

That’s the time I realized that God might have allowed this painful experience so that I can walk my talk because this physical pain was absent during that near death experience in 2009. Probably, God is not through with me yet. He is preparing me for something else beyond my imagination. “His thoughts are not our thoughts. Neither His ways, our ways.” Shifting my focus, I began to look for the gains, rather than the pains. The first thing I have seen is the revival of this blog which hibernated for some months due to my hectic schedule . I expect for more. Dear God, enlighten me more.