Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hardships, Hope and Drummond

Hello my people.
This could be my last post for a while or it could not. My health is deteriorating so fast that I can barely walk now, barely keep fluids down, and am close to a catatonic state because of pain despite my 4 strong prescription pain killers. Unless we get another pain killer added into the mix, and unless IV therapy works on Wednesday, I may have to be hospitalized. I'm starting to wish for morphine and supervised care. Yes. Me. The one who doesn't like to admit when she needs help and who wants to do everything on her own. I'm almost desperate for help, so you know things are bad.

One thing I've been struggling with the past couple weeks, and especially the past two days, is "why". Is this God's way of testing me to make me more like Him, to learn to depend on Him, to give Him my all? Or is he using the trials the Devil is putting me through to reach those same ends? If it is the Devil, then God must have some great purpose for me, as the Devil only goes to so much effort for so long if that is the case. I'm wondering what that purpose could be, because right now, my greatest achievement of the day is making it back up the stairs without blacking out.

Whatever the reason, I'm having trouble coping. I'm not sure how much longer I can hold on. The pain is almost overwhelming. I can't stop shaking and quivering. The hot flashes are driving me crazy, and my lack of sleep because of pain is making my unstable and fuzzy headed. Mental acuity and balance are starting to elude me, and my hope is slowly eroding with every piece of bad news I get.....every piece that arrives on my doorstep daily.
It doesn't help that my doctor isn't sure where to go from here. It doesn't help that my treatments aren't working well, or that my recent kidney infection wiped out much of this summer's bit of "progress". It doesn't help that I have homework piling up but not enough mental togetherness to do anything about it. I can't memorize. I can't concentrate for long periods of time. Heck, I've sobbed more in pain the past two days than I have in months.

Professor Henry Drummond
But one thing about all this does give me hope. I still have my God. And He has placed his yoke upon me to help make my burden light. Now, in today's society, yoke's seem to make us think of oxen straining against heavy burdens. We envision ourselves as slaves. But one short address (from the book of sermons printed in 1900) by Professor and prominent evangelist Henry Drummond, helped put it all into a better perspective for me.
Because, really, God's yoke is a marvelous gift, without which, I would have long ago collapsed under the weight of this world's trials.

"What Yokes Are For"
By Henry Drummond

"There is still one doubt to clear up. After the statement, "Learn of Me," Christ throws in the disconcerting qualification, "Take My Yoke upon you and learn of Me." Why, if all this be true, does He call it a yoke? Why, while professing to give Rest, does He with the next breath whisper "burden?". Is the Christian life, after all, what its enemies take it for-an additional weight to the already great woe of life, some extra punctiliousness about duty, some painful devotion to observances, some heavy restriction and trammeling of all that is joyous and free in the world? Is life not hard and sorrowful enough without being fettered with yet another yoke?

It is astounding how so glaring a misunderstanding of this plain sentence should ever have passed into currency. Do you ever stop to ask what a yoke is really for? Is it to be a burden to the animal which wears it? It is just the opposite! It is to make its burden light. Attached to the oxen in any other way than by a yoke, the plough would be intolerable. Worked by means of a yoke, it is light. A yoke is not an instrument of torture; it is an instrument of mercy. It is not a malicious contrivance for making work hard; it is a gentle device to make hard labor light. It is not meant to give pain, but to save pain. And yet men speak of the yoke of Christ as if it were a slavery, and look upon those who wear it as objects [in need] of compassion. For generations we have had homilies on "The Yoke of Christ," some delighting in portraying its narrow exactions; some seeking in these exactions the marks of its divinity; others apologizing for it, and toning it down; still others assuring us that, although it be very bad, it is not to be compared with the positive blessings of Christianity. How many, especially among the young, has this one mistaken phrase driven forever away from the kingdom of God? Instead of making Christ attractive, it makes Him out [as] a taskmaster, narrowing life by petty restrictions, calling for self-denial where none is necessary, making misery a virtue under the plea that it is the yoke of Christ, and happiness criminal because it now and then evades it.
According to this conception, Christians are at best the victims of a depressing fate; their life is a penance; and their hope for the next world purchased by a slow martyrdom in this.

The mistake has arisen from taking the word "yoke" here in the same sense, as in the expressions "under the yoke," or "wear the yoke in his youth." But in Christ's illustration it is not the jugum of the Roman soldier, but the simple "harness" or "ox-collar" of the Eastern peasant. It is the literal wooden yoke which He, with His own hands in the carpenter shop, had probably often made. He knew the difference between a smooth yoke and a rough one, a bad fit and a good fit: the difference also it made to the patient animal which had to wear it. The rough yoke galled, and the burden was heavy; the smooth yoke caused no pain, and the burden was lightly drawn. The badly-fitted harness was a misery; the well-fitted collar was "easy."

And what was the "burden?" It was not some special burden laid upon the Christian, some unique infliction that they alone must bear. It was what all men bear. It was simply life, human life itself, the general burden of life which all must carry with them from the cradle to the grave. Christ saw that men took life painfully. To some it was weariness, to others a failure, to many a tragedy, to all a struggle and a pain. How to carry this burden of life had been the whole world's problem. It is still the whole world's problem. And here is Christ's solution: "Carry it as I do. Take life as I take it. Look at it from My point of view. Interpret it upon My principles. Take My yoke and learn of me, and you will find it easy. For My yoke is easy, works easily, sits right upon the shoulders, and therefore My burden is light."

There is no suggestion here that religion will absolve any man from bearing burdens. That would absolve him from living, since it is life itself that is the burden. What Christianity does propose is to make it tolerable. Christ's yoke is simply His secret for the alleviation of human life, his prescription for the best and happiest method of living. Men harness themselves to the work and stress of the world in clumsy and unnatural ways. The harness they put on is antiquated. A rough, ill-fitted collar at best, they make its strain and friction past enduring, by placing it where the neck is most sensitive; and by mere continuous irritation this sensitiveness increases until the whole nature is quick and sore.

This is the origin, among other things, of a disease called "touchiness" - a disease which, in spite of its innocent name, is one of the gravest sources of restlessness in the world. Touchiness, when it become chronic, is a morbid condition of the inward disposition. It is self-love inflamed to the acute point; conceit, with a hair-trigger. The cure is to shift the yoke to some other place; to let men and things touch us through some new and perhaps as yet unused part of our nature; to become meek and lowly in heart while the old nature is becoming numb from want of use. It is the beautiful work of Christianity everywhere to adjust the burden of life to those who bear it, and them to it. It has a perfectly miraculous gift of healing. Without doing any violence to human nature it sets it right with life, harmonizing it with all surrounding things, and restoring those who are jaded with the fatigue and dust of the world to a new grace of living. In the mere matter of altering the perspective of life and changing the proportion of things, its functions in lightening the care of man is altogether its own.
The weight of a load depends upon the attraction of the earth. But suppose the attraction of the earth were removed? A ton on some other planet, where the attraction of gravity is less, does not weigh half a ton. Now Christianity removes the attraction of the Earth, and this is one way in which it diminishes men's burden. It makes them citizens of another world. What was a ton yesterday is not half a ton today. So without changing one's circumstances, merely by offering a wider horizon and a different standard, it alters the whole aspect of the world.

Christianity as Christ taught is the truest philosophy of life ever spoken. But let us be quite sure when we speak of Christianity that we mean Christ's Christianity. Other versions are either caricatures, or exaggerations, or misunderstanding, or shortsighted and surface readings. For the most part their attainment is hopeless and the results wretched. But I care not who the person is, or through what vale of tears he has passed, or is about to pass. There is a new life for him along this path."

I don't know about you, but that whole passage is awe inspiring. To know that if I choose to give it all over to Christ, and take His yoke upon my back, my burden will be far lighter. He will help me carry my load. He will make my pain, my suffering, my illness, my trials, seem less, because he himself has taken that load from my shoulders.

We all have burdens in this life. Because, as Drummond said, " itself is the burden". What are your burdens? In what way are you slowly collapsing under the weight of your life? Lay it at the feet of our Lover, our Father, our Friend. He will make our burdens light. This he promises. And Thus, this He will do.

I will pray for you all, my readers, that you find peace today. It is hard. Life is worrisome. My present condition is very worrisome. But Christ will carry it for me.
There are many quotes on Worry, and some will probably come up in future posts. But the one I want to share with you right now is this one. Too bad it's anonymous, because I'd like to know what else this person said!
"Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks up" I pray that I can find the faith to continue turning my gaze to the God whom I love above all else.
Now, ask yourself this question: Where are you looking?



Calandreya said...

A yoke is also an instrument of teamwork. Perhaps, in saying 'put MY yoke upon thee,' he meant to be a partner to your trials.

Rae, try to keep your spirits up. Fight for this life that God gave you, and keep fighting. There's too much to live for, and a lot of good to do, yet. I would like to see you go through some of the more ordinary events of life, after physical healing.

Hang in there.


Rae Hitchings said...

You're quite right, of course. He DOES want to carry the burdens right along side us.

I'm working on keeping my spirits up. Hopefully after some sleep (If I can get any today), things will seem brighter. But, even if things stay as they are, or get worse, I will try my best to choose Joy. Because when I do, I become happy, despite everything.

It would be lovely to go through the normalcies of life, and I pray I too can experience them.

Hanging ten *wink*

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