Many ask the question: where do I belong, what is the meaning to life, or even more importantly why do people suffer?
It is my hope to share my experiences through a period of illness and beyond, which holds for me the secret to suffering and why we suffer.
You might ask what gives me the right to talk on such a matter and to even try to help others to understand the true meaning of suffering. As I unfold the journey that I have taken over since 1993 I hope to expound and enrich the concept of personal suffering for the glory of our Lord.
My own personal journey, is one of prolonged illness not only physically but emotionally as well and the coming to terms with one's self in the context of our daily walk. I have found that it was the willingness to surrender my life to a greater power than myself that would finally lead me to self forgiveness and completion.
It began some 20 years ago or so and would influence my life as a whole. At the mercy of the medical profession and others I have seen both the worst in people and the best. I have met many people who have encouraged me but many more who have left me alone and isolated. Doctors who have accused me of being a drug addict with drug seeking behaviour all because I was trying to cope with a horrendous amount of pain which was beyond me.
I will not tell you or even try to convince you that what I have been through is an isolated incident but rather something that we all are vulnerable to. One never knows what is around the corner in life, it could be prosperity, wealth and success, however it could also be sickness, suffering, pain or ostracism by the very ones that you cared for.
It is in this terse climate that I found myself some years ago, and it has been the journey through this period that has bought me a clarity of mind and understanding that I never had before. I am no longer the person I was, rather a new creation, one of empathy, caring, understanding and knowledge. For it is the knowledge of why we must suffer in this life which holds the age-old answer that many have sought and been unable to find.
I believe myself to be in many ways a modern day Job and I can identify with him as he was to suffer to proclaim the glory of God. I am by no means as pious as Job was and probably never will be. However having been taken to the brink of death twice and having surrendered my soul to our Lord I have come to a new understanding. There were times that I prayed for him to take me to himself and cursed the day I was born but I can now say with confidence that I am a fellow traveller with Job.
When I was 40 I had made the decision to spend the rest of my life in the service of our Lord. I had sold my business and packed up my family and had moved away from home to study and learn about the things of God. I had a mental picture and a roadmap that I felt would take me through the rest of my life and provide for the future. My wife and myself used our savings and our retirement in the gaining of knowledge and understanding by studying full-time at the Baptist Theological College in Sydney. I can remember that I had it all worked out, four years at college and then into a church as a pastor for the rest of my working life. By the time I come up for retirement I would have had 20 years in the ministry with long service leave due and a comfortable means of facing the future of retirement.
I wasn't too know that I was to spend the next 15 years after college suffering from a break down and migraines 24 hours a day seven days a week 365 days a year. Living on medication to try to control the pain. I say "try to control the pain" because they are the only words that really fits the situation. No matter how many or how much medication I was given it was notable to control the pain that I suffered from. The constant migraines, hour after hour, day after day, year after year would have the effect of taking me to the very edge and being ready to die.
I was to surrender my will on two occasions praying and asking for our Lord to take my soul to himself and let me find peace. Yet he chose not to and I am still here only by the grace of God for if I had had my way I would no longer be here. To surrender one's soul one must reach a deeper level of understanding, a deeper level of knowledge about oneself and one's own foibles. It was my very weakness and willingness in times of the deep dark despair to surrender my soul that gave me the power of knowing that beyond this life our Lord would present another life. One free of suffering. He has promised us "that he would be with us even to the end of the age" during this lifetime and I can attest to the fact that this is a real and tangible promise.
It was to came to me, as I lay in bed, hour after hour just facing a blank wall that my constant companion was our Lord. I have never experienced the peace and serenity that I experienced in those dark hours when nothing and I mean nothing would take the pain away. The headaches became so profound that at times I would bang my fist against my forehead in an effort to try and shake the pain away.
I was often reminded of the character of the wardens wife In the "Green Mile" with Tom Hanks. She suffered with a tumour on the brain and it had caused her to cry out in agony. I too cried out in agony wanting only to be free of the turmoil and pain. Mine is not a unique experience for many suffer from migraines or other forms of headaches. They to can attest to be being seen by others as having no real reason to complain. No outward sign of injury or disease, no broken bones or casts, no stitches, no wounds or other visible signs of sickness. This is the dilemma that faces all migraine sufferers, we live in a world of internal suffering and pain that many will not and cannot understand.
We have been branded as mentally unstable with an illness that is only in our mind or that is imagined. I have had more than one doctor tell me that I was imagining the pain and that it was all in my mind. I have been accused of having a drug seeking personality and deemed unfit for further treatment, cast out and disposed of. Why you might ask would they say such a thing, I mean they're the educated ones they are supposed to know what ails us. Yet in a stroke of the hand or the length of a phone call a doctor can pass judgement and refuse to treat those that do not meet their profile of suffering.
It is by the grace of God that I have survived through nearly 15 years of suffering and pain. I have been privileged to know his presence and to experience his grace and companionship these last years. There is no other way for me, other than to walk with our Lord. I would not be here today if I had not had that assurance, of knowing his presence through those dark hours. Now some might dismiss this of pure speculation and hearsay but I can assure you that our Lord is very real to me and has been so since the moment I accepted him into my life.
I invite you to journey with me through this period of my life as I expound the grace and wisdom that can only be found through a deep and personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.