𝐓𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐃𝐚𝐲 – 𝐂𝐚𝐧𝐨𝐧 𝐉𝐢𝐦 𝐑𝐮𝐬𝐡𝐭𝐨𝐧


It was New Year’s Day 1974. A hike had been arranged from our church, led by the scout master, from Ambleside to Gramere.via Loughrigg Fell. Hikes and rambles were always a feature of my ministry because I had so enjoyed ones arranged from my church when I was a teenager. But going on Jan.1st was a novelty and we were blessed with a good day.

Our nine year old daughter chose this to be her first church hike. As we headed up Loughrigg the climb became steeper and steeper and I noticed that she was having difficulties. It soon became clear she was in real pain. Somehow we were able to get her over the peak and down to Grasmere but the pain continued unabated.

The following day she was admitted to A&E and from there to a paediatrician. There followed weeks of enforced bed rest because of fears that her heart might be damaged. Months later there was a consultation with the chief rheumatologist. He declared that she was a victim of Stills Disease, a form of rheumatoid arthritis. His encouraging words were: “If you are going to get this it is the best form to suffer.” In other words, you won’t be crippled for life. But her knee joints are permanently damaged. She has to cope with stiffness and pain.

Last week Freda and I attended a consultation with her specialist. Since beginning treatment her health has improved tremendously growing in strength, putting weight back on with none of the unpleasant symptoms she had previously. We expected the consultant would have been pleased. Instead he told us that once the first six cycles of chemo therapy were complete he intended to order another three, or even six, more. It was made very clear to us that there is no medical cure for lymphoma. Her life from now on will be one of keeping her blood levels under regular observation varying the amount of medication accordingly. It was not what we were expecting to hear! Both of these health situations came out of the blue.

I don’t share this as a cry for sympathy. Rather to show two examples of what life can be like. In fact what the corona virus has done for all of us whether we have contracted it or not. This epidemic means the world will not be the same as it was for all of us, unless a vaccine can be developed. Life on the earth we so much value can never be taken for granted. Things can change irrevocably in a moment.

This is why the dismissal of the Christian message in our society is so tragic. People, in large numbers, are turning their backs on the one truth that can make sense of life’s realities. When Jesus was taken and crucified every terror was inflicted on Him. It was unimaginable suffering. But He bore it and triumphed over it. He showed that suffering and death are not the end. The Apostle Paul was put on death row because he told the Roman Empire that Jesus was the only answer to life. That all answers are to be found by humbly acknowledging what He has done, and who He is, the Divine Son of God. As he faced execution this is what he wrote:- “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us.” Romans 8:25

This is the message and truth that our nation, and indeed all the nations, need to know and believe. Suffering is a reality. But there is Someone who has experienced it all and who is there to help us, if only we will humble ourselves and trust ourselves to Him. May you know His love and power.