Tag Archives: Encouragement

Grounded encouragement from Horatius Bonar

I am nine pages from finishing God’s Way of Peace: A Book for the Anxious, by Horatius Bonar (1808-1889), and found this passage particularly compelling. I believe the book’s title is absolutely appropriate and the book itself encouraging and important for all Christians.

“You have been expecting faith to descend, like an angel from heaven, into your soul, and hope to be lighted up like a new star in your firmament. It is not so. Whilst the Spirit’s work is beyond nature, it is not against nature. He displaces no faculty; he disturbs no mental process; he does violence to no part of our moral framework; he creates no new organ of thought or feeling. His office is to set all to rights within you; so that you never feel so calm, so true, so real, so perfectly natural, so much yourself, – as when he has taken possession of you in every part; and filled your whole man with his heavenly joy. Never do you feel so perfectly free, – less constrained and less mechanical, – in every faculty, as when he has ‘brought every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.’ The heavenly life imparted is liberty, and truth, and peace; it is the removal of bondage, and pain.” Horatius Bonar: God’s Way of Peace: A Book for the Anxious

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Despite it all. . .

However many times I have read this before, I was particularly stirred as I read Psalm 17 last night, especially the last verse; I think it invoked the “floods, fire, famine, rape, and war” motif that my high school World History teacher always used to describe trying times, especially current politics. Far more significantly, the verse provides dimension to the promise God will unfailingly keep.

“As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.”
–Psalm 17:15

(New King James Version (NKJV)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.)

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Filed under Faith, Pneumatos, Thoughts & Reading

spiral

Coolidge, my companion cat of 15-1/2 years: we’ve gone through some rough diagnoses together. We’ve kept each other comfortable. I’ve treated his diabetes since 2006, and he’s purred at my side and diminished my discouragement since my diagnosis with Addison’s disease in 2007. Now he has also developed hyperthyroid. It seemed a simple thing to regulate—just a very small half-pill, morning and evening.

But the methimazole was treacherous. My cat stopped eating. The pill form of the drug can cause inappetence. He refused any and all low-carbohydrate canned foods he had eaten before the hyperthyroidism arrived. This was especially frustrating because kibbles jack up his glucose so much. I fought back with gradual increases in his insulin. Untreated, his thyroid would blow up his heart. Surgery and radiation aren’t thinkable at his age. Better to stay with methimazole and chase down the glucose numbers.

My vet and I decided it was worth the additional complexity to ditch the pills and go with transdermal methimazole, which doesn’t have the liabilities of the pill form, but it doesn’t have the simplicity, either. This formulation is prepared by a compounding pharmacy. I have to syringe a small amount of the medication into my cat’s ear. It resolves inappetence and GI issues in most cases, but the pills are normally prescribed first because they’re so much simpler to administer. If this would resolve his increased glucose levels, and even more critically, restore his appetite, it would be worth everything.

Inappetence in a diabetic cat can quickly bring on hepatic lipidosis—it took Coolidge only four days back in 2006— and a feeding tube was necessary for nine horrible weeks that summer. Pancreatitis also menaces the inappetent diabetic. And, obviously, so does starvation. So initially we fed him kibbles and the most wholesome treats we could find. They were like junk food, full of carbs, but they were the best food in the world, because my cat would eat them.

I broke into sobs the next morning when the heartless glucose meter read 372. It was 365 the previous evening, after Coolidge’s first transdermal dose. I have a low tolerance for slow progress.

My vet wanted me to try a diabetes management kibble, Purina D/M. I picked up a bag this morning, along with two cans of D/M, in case he might still transition back to the lower-carb canned form. Coolidge is finicky, but by God’s merciful grace, he tucked into the D/M kibbles with renewed alacrity. He snubbed the canned D/M, but at least he can get off the high-carb kibbles. Not only did he eat a small but sustaining portion, which in itself was enthralling, but his evening glucose was only 95!

There’s a reason this chow costs $34 for a six-pound bag. It’s the only Hail Mary trick I have left. Time—I hope not much time—will tell whether the transdermal formulation will restore Coolidge’s appetite and lower his glucose to more tenable levels on the diabetic spectrum.

My cat’s diseases are necessarily complicated because they interact. You can’t treat any of them as a discrete circle, stack the circles, and celebrate a series of victories; you have to chase them through a pernicious spiral formation. You always end up in a broken ring. It’s like Mutually Assured Destruction, only it’s Assured Destruction of Patient. That is because all patients are mortal beings; there was a Fall, remember? And now all creation groans under the sentence of death. It sucks, but it is what it is, and for the very most part it is very beautiful and very wonderful. Still, there are snakes in every paradise.

I can’t know how long Coolidge or I or anyone else has to live in our unique assigned spirals. All I can know is that I’m throwing metaphorical hail Mary passes and we’re keeping each other comfortable, as long as there’s a goal post left standing.

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Locusts and honey

I’m far too easily discouraged by setbacks; if I needed a defense, I could posit that this could be because everything is such an effort for me in the first place, that the thought of doing it again makes me morbid. But discouragement under pure light is the color of sin: it is sin because I am telling myself that things should be otherwise than what they are, and that sanctification should not always have to come at the cost of having things perfectly, delightfully my own way.

Shortly after nestling delightedly into our newly arranged, unpacked living room, we touched up some paint that had developed little dark spots due to pigment failure — a common casualty, we’ve discovered, with VOC-free paint. We had to buy another gallon to do this, because our small amount of leftover Terrarium green had frozen. We mistakenly bought semi-gloss instead of eggshell, so of course that didn’t work. The semi-gloss is what we need for the bathrooms, so at least it wasn’t a write-off. I returned to Home Depot and bought the eggshell. The color did not quite match — apparently FreshAire has altered the base formula. Attempts at touchup worsened the original problem. We had to repaint the entire wall, and to do so, we had to move the furniture again. It was no big deal on the remodeling potential catastrophe scale, and my far more sanctified husband didn’t bat an eye at the task, which he, after all, performed entirely. But I, who merely had to endure the occurrence of the process, grumbled.

I settled down to watch my husband work, rue the wasted time and energy caused by the defective paint, and read Packer. J. I. Packer is a gentleman, a great theologian, and an encouragement genius. And as I read on, God dealt me one of those moments in which he nurtured me on pablum again, after I gagged a bit on my solid food. Rev. Packer happened to be discussing, in Knowing God, precisely this issue: how indwelling sin causes disruptions in the course of our sanctification, just when we think we have the drill down. He pointed to the promise in Joel 2:25ff,

“I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten…
You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied
And praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you…”

The years that the locust has eaten: this our God will make up to us. There is no wasted effort: nothing is ever wasted; we simply fail to see how it is spent. God always provides for his people, and he has surely dealt wondrously with us–with me. I haven’t been left to die alone and poor in the street yet. My times are in his hands; none is wasted, and he has dealt wondrously with me.

And the sweet thing is, the wall is standing, and the paint looks fine, and it looks like the other walls. And the really sweet thing would be that I would always remember when I look at that wall, that our God is a God of wonders, and that the reason I don’t always see how trivial something is, is because I can’t possibly see how tremendous the real backdrop is.

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