Thursday, December 03, 2009

Quelling my affections

Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight which He has made crooked? ~Eccles. 7:13

My favorite book on suffering comes from an old Puritan named Thomas Boston, and its title comes from the above Scripture verse: The Crook in the Lot. It may seem odd to some of my Gentle Readers that I have a "favorite" book on suffering. But it ought not: suffering is one of those things the Lord promises his followers, and He never breaks a promise.

Boston begins his treatise in this way:
A just view of afflicting incidents is altogether necessary to a Christian deportment under them; and that view is to be obtained only by faith, not by sense; for it is not the light of the world alone that represents them justly, discovering in them the work of God, and consequently, designs becoming the Divine perfections. When they are perceived by the eye of faith, and duly considered, we have a just view of afflicting incidents, fitted to quell the turbulent motions of corrupt affections under dismal outward appearances.

I seemingly have daily need quelling the turbulent motions of my corrupt affections. It was Boston who first patiently explained to me that, for the Christian, all suffering has its purpose in the plan of a good and sovereign God, and we should spend more time humbling ourselves under His providential use of suffering in our lives than we should spend trying to remove ourselves from it. What a worthy, but difficult, lesson!

This has been a week for quelling. Just after our return from Tucson, I had an over-night oxygen saturation test done. Unfortunately, I discovered on Tuesday that I failed the test. In other words, I had more than 30 episodes an hour when my oxygen saturation was too low, and my pulse too high: apparently not a good combination. So, as of last night I am on oxygen at night, and awaiting an appointment for a sleep study.

I've been through lots: cancer, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage. Oxygen at night shouldn't be in that category. But the truth is that suffering is suffering. You forget how bad some things were, I guess, and every new challenge seems overwhelming. Intellectually I realize this is a little, fixable problem. But those turbulent motions of my corrupt affections have kicked into overdrive. I have been crying on and off for days, and fighting with fear and dread. I know it is not the worst of afflictions, but I simply do not want to deal with this "one more" thing. Not a very submissive spirit, is it?

In telling my son about this latest crook in my lot (and crying as I did so), he made the observation that I had been so brave and so "together" over my cancer. What was the deal with this crying? His sweet wife, Elsa, who is gifted with words, explained it well: "This is more obvious than the cancer, outwardly, and yet very intimate. And it has an old-age connotation." Indeed. There you have my feelings in a nutshell. I must face my limited mortality yet again, and finding no way to escape it, learn to embrace God's good plan for my days.

The friend who gave me my first copy of Thomas Boston some 18 years ago, did so as she was dying of cancer. She wrote me a letter that summer, within weeks of her death, and said to me, "This is a difficult place to be in, but where would I rather be than in the center of God's will?"

Amen. May I so still my soul before God.

1 comment:

Juanita said...

Thanks, Chris. A good reminder. I'll have to look for that book.