Ben’s improvement continues as he’s now eating normally, walking the lengths of the hospital corridor and trying the stairs, all aided by the physiotherapists. He’s speaking and acting well although often presents more as a child or teenager. Feeling more and more cooped up, he’s been complaining that he’s both bored and wanting to go home. The doctor, thinking it would be good for him to have some day trips, allowed him out for a visit home yesterday for a couple of hours. However, it wasn’t as great a success as Ben hoped. Firstly, it was delayed because he was sick in the morning and developed a shakiness and then eventually when we got home mid-late afternoon, he found it much tougher than he’d realised, felt increasingly unwell, and was glad to get back to the hospital. Large chucks of memory are still either foggy or missing altogether and neither of his foreign languages (part of his job and therefore his income source) have returned. The expectation is that he will be in hospital for the next 2-3 weeks. The diagnosis still remains elusive; the earlier idea of vasculitus has been ruled out and epilepsy is now being mooted, although it does not explain various other symptoms he’s been experiencing, and so we continue to await the results of genetics tests. The mystery continues.
Over the last few days, I’ve been working through the Old Testament account of Joseph – famous because of his ‘techicolour dreamcoat’ – and giving it some thought. All the way through, it seems people and circumstances conspired against him. Admittedly, maybe he was a little unwise in sharing his grand dreams with his family so readily, but he seems ultimately to be someone who had every reason to shake his fist at the sky and everyone under it and to emerge as the ultimate self-made, lucky break man intent on revenge. It’s amazing to see however, as the account moves on, what he does do when he finds himself as Pharoah’s equal in all but the throne. Revenge is the last thing on his mind and he attributes all he has become to God as he says to his brothers who’re expecting his wrath, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50: 20). That even in the worst things that happened to him, he was ultimately able to see that God was there using each event to do something that perhaps couldn’t have happened any other way. The end result was that a dysfunctional family was reconciled, millions saved from starvation and the line from which the Messiah would one day come, protected. Joseph himself was prefiguring what that very saviour would be and do – through suffering, he’d receive honour and glory, and that he’d rule and save countless millions who came to him, even the most undeserving.
It’s as I reflect on that whole story I’m encouraged to see again that none of my (or our) own trials and difficulties are wasted in Father’s economy. What might appear to be awful, God (even if he didn’t initiate them) uses for good. It doesn’t however mean it’s time for pious platitudes, but it does mean I can confidently affirm that far from abandoning us, He’s with us, doing something perhaps yet to be perceived that could not happen any other way. It does however also mean than I can sit still alone, agonising, be largely without words, only ‘groans‘…and still keep faith in Him who loved me and gave Himself for me. After all, what appeared to be the worst of suffering as Christ hung on the cross, turned out to be the greatest event of redemption.
Paul, writing so plainly under inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
And then Peter also, so encouraging to us…
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1)