Sad

On the very last day of 2011, my dear friend has committed spiritual suicide.

In the space of 2 weeks, his facebook profile has gone from “single” to “in a relationship,” and today, it became “engaged.”

I wept, and I am sure all the angels in heaven did too. Here is a wonderful young man who has chosen to give his life over to the devil. Like a seed that has been sown among the thorns, the cares and desires of this world have come up and choked him. Like a prodigal son, he has abandoned his doting Father in order to squander his life away.

Devastated. Confused. Angry. Hurt. Sorrowful. I am overwhelmed with a melange of nasty emotions.

But despite all that has happened, I believe my saviour reigns. God is more powerful than Satan at its best. God still loves him, and I know God can turn him around. God even loves the person who has caused him to stumble and sin. God cares, and God forgives. God can use the worst situations to bring glory to Himself.

Enough crying! Pray instead. Let’s start all over again. I will treat him and love him as a non-believing friend, and hopefully one day his heart of stone will learn to beat again for the Lord. Even if he comes back to God in a mess, I am sure the Lord will give grace for us to pick up the pieces and put him back together again then.

Disease

I wanted to post this seperately from my previous post on love, as this topic is a lot more heavy and sad.

A couple from my church have 3 beautiful daughters. Their middle child (lets call her R2) was diagnosed with leukaemia (ALL to be precise) last year. She has been receiving cycles of intravenous and intrathecal chemotherapy for the past year, and has had her share of suffering in her 3 years of life. She has had regular admissions to hospital with neutropenic sepsis, suffered crankiness on her steriod treatment, received nasogastric feeding, and been poked, prodded and scanned in every direction. We were hopeful that R2 would get better as she achieved remission and was kept on maintenance therapy; unfortunately, R2’s disease has relapsed. To relapse on maintenance chemotherapy is a very poor prognostic indicator, and her paediatricians have quoted a 100% mortality figure without a bone marrow transplant. R2 is now back on intensive chemotherapy, and she will receive a homologous bone marrow transplant from her sister once remission is achieved. What is hard to digest though, is that her chances of cure remain at only 15-20% with BMT. The family are struggling, with dad staying in the hospital daily whilst mum looks after the house and 2 other children at home. They must be so emotionally and physically exhausted– it has been a year since R2’s diagnosis, and just as things seemed to be getting better, R2’s condition has taken a turn for the worse again. I pray that the Lord gives them strength through it all, and that He will please preserve R2’s little life. I pray that the people around them (me included) will be supportive both practically and spiritually.

All this news has taken my mind back to the days when I worked on the haematology ward and the bone marrow transplant unit. I remember that it was one of the most emotionally trying times in my career as a doctor. I cried more times during those 4 months as a haematology SHO than I had in my other 20 months as a doctor. At that time when I thought I had over-compartmentalised my emotions towards patients and therefore had come almost to the verge of being stone-hearted, the haematology patients made me human again. I developed strong relationships with my patients then, and every negative turn in their condition made my heart ache for them. I remember writing a reflective diary entry then, which I will share here:

I am not one who would usually let things that I see at work affect me for more than a few hours after its time of occurrence. Whether it is the breaking of bad news, or even the death of a patient, I just deal with it there and then and carry on. That’s what I have learnt to do in the last 20 months of being a doctor—compartmentalise my feelings, almost to the point of being cold and stone-hearted. I mean, how else do you cope with the everyday stresses of work if one was to cry with every weeping patient, or mourn with every grieving family? There is no room for dwelling in emotion.
 
Nevertheless, these last couple of days have really broken me down as a person and as a doctor. As I witness the suffering of my patients on the haematology wards, I am beginning to feel my human emotions hit me like an unexpected tsunami. Young patients—they are the ones who really affect me the most. Patients who are my age—they should be enjoying the vitality of youth and embracing the freedom to live their life to its full. They should be out there frolicking in the sun, trying their hand at dangerous sport, experimenting with fashion, falling in love…
 
Yet here I see them suffering. Young people my age, who spend more time in the hospital than they do at home, whose best friends are the nurses and doctors in the damned institution. They are youths who suffer broken relationships as their disease places immense strain on their boyfriends, girlfriends, and even their familial ties. They are youths who have lines and drips attached to them, infusing toxic medications that cause them to be sick, that makes them bald, that inflict pain, that puts them at risk of life threatening infections. These are young adults who live everyday praying that their disease has not come back. Others are fighting to live one more month, one more week, one more day.
 
Watching these patients suffer this week has really reminded me of how broken and imperfect our world is. As mankind seeks to pleasure himself and as we bathe ourselves in sinfulness, this world is never going to be perfect. Suffering is a reflection of our brokenness. It reminds me of our desperate need for the peace and perfection that God offers through his son Jesus Christ. One day, when he comes again and the heavens and earth are made anew, there will be no more weeping, no more crying, no more suffering. On that day, man and woman, young and old, we will sing to the Lord and bask in his love forever. 

R2, I am praying for you.

Wedding festivities

My dear friend Vicky finally got married yesterday!

It was a really beautiful wedding and Vicky looked absolutely stunning in her gorgeous gown. I stopped breathing for a second as she stepped onto the aisle with her father; I am sure Chris did too.

God was at the centre of the wedding festivities, and prayer and praise was offered up to Him throughout the day. I pray that the couple will reflect a shadow of God’s love for mankind in their marriage, bearing a strong witness for the Lord through their love for each other.

There was a lot of laughter and fun as the speeches were made after dinner. People within their families teased each other even as they expressed their love and support for the newly-weds. Family bliss was definitely lingering in the air.

Vicky also ate chocolate for the first time in 14 years as Chris was made to feed her some wedding cake!

And of course, I did my little bit for the wedding with my partner in crime, Ruth. We performed during the register signing, and thankfully it went pretty smoothly despite the fact that I was so nervous! There were a couple of times when I went a little pitchy, but I am quite satisfied with our performance overall. Various people came up to me after the wedding to say how well I sounded. One lady even said that I had the voice of an angel! She was convinced that I was a singer and could not believe that I have never had any formal voice training. Another one of Vicky’s friends from Swindon also said that all her guy friends were “mesmerised” by my singing! Mesmerised! Oh my, I have never known myself to be capable of mesmerising anyone with any part of my being, so I felt very flattered by the feedback. (:

 

The wedding got me thinking about love.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” 1 Cor 13:4-8a

Oh, how much love demands of us! But this is the way God loves, and should be the way we learn to love one another.

God loved us so much, that he sent his only begotten son to die on the cross for sinners such as me. He loved us so much that He chose to sacrifice Himself in order to save us from our self-destructive ways. He loved us so much that He chose to forgive us unconditionally, even when we are hating and hurting him daily. God’s love overflows, it is so excessive that I don’t think I can ever fully “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:18)

God’s love fully satisfies. It will never leave you wanting. It is forever.

When we love as God does, the world would be so much more beautiful. We will stop seeking self-interests, stop letting others down, stop hurting each other. Tears will make way for laughter, cold will make way for warmth, hunger will make way for satisfaction, pain will make way for comfort, fear will make way for peace, desperation will make way for hope, and joy will prevail.

Teach me to love, dear Lord.

Worried for a friend

One of my closest friends from University seems to be in trouble.

I don’t know what trouble, but a couple of our mutual friends (with whom he has confided in) seem genuinely worried about him. I was chatting to B yesterday who said “I’m very very worried about him. He is at a cross-roads now, and is imminently in danger of giving up his faith in Christ. You said you feel that he is distancing himself from everybody else– well, the truth is that he is.”

I don’t want to know what’s going on because my said friend has obviously chosen not to tell me his problems, but this is huge. I love this friend to bits. He has been a real friend and brother to me in the last 7.5 years. He has been one of the most loving, generous, hospitable, smart and gifted (in cooking no less) person I know. We have laughed and cried and prayed and praised God together and I’ve always thanked God that I’ve been able to witness his conversion, baptism, growth, and selfless service in the name of the Lord.

I have been distracted throughout most of today considering what B said to me about him last night. I don’t want this friend to turn his back to God, or to distance himself from the true love, hope and peace that only Christ can offer. I  don’t want him to be tempted by fleeting worldly treasures and pleasures, only to be devoured by the brokenness and hopelessness of this secular place in which we are simply passing through. Today, I find myself grieving the potential loss of a dear friend.

Lord God, please will you hang on to him. Grab him in your hands and never let go, even when he seems desperate to break away from you. Lord Jesus, please be merciful. Use the same power that you used to overcome death’s sting to shield my friend from the devil and its ways. God, please rekindle his first love for you. And teach me Lord, to be a crutch for him at this difficult time of his life.

And to my dear friend in trouble:

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the Lord of grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:7-11

I am praying daily that you choose not to be a prodigal son.