CategoryLiving with Illness

Hugs from strangers

H

I was on the train from Newcastle to Sydney a few weeks back. It was a Sunday afternoon and the train was packed. I was sitting in one of the designated quiet carriages where conversations must kept to a minimum, phones are to be put away, and if you listen to music you must do so through headphones. At Gosford a woman of similar age to me boarded the train and set beside me. She was rather...

Some suffering may be redemptive, but some is just plain senseless

S

“Why do you think God allowed you to get Parkinsons?” This question or some derivative of it is commonly put to me, or if not put to me directly, at least thought about. Behind it lies the assumption that there must be some divine purpose to everything that happens, including the bad. People want to make meaning out of suffering, and thinking that it is part of a grand plan of God...

That Strange Moment When A Stranger Offers Me Her Seat

T

It had to happen sometime. That moment when my physical impairment became sufficiently noticeable that complete strangers feel the need to offer me assistance. Last Sunday as my flight from Perth approached Sydney, a fifty-something woman across the aisle watched me struggle to put on the shoes I had earlier slipped off. When we landed she insisted on helping me retrieve my baggage from the...

I have been blessed with Parkinsons.

I

In recent months my physical condition has deteriorated. The tremor in my right side is becoming more pronounced; I have found all kinds of things for which you need fine motor skills, like folding down the collar on your shirt, and bending down to put on your shoes and socks; I occasionally lose my balance; and the tremor is just starting to emerge in my left side. Yet in the midst of this, I...

Why I need to dance like a crazy man

W

Last week I was reminded of a delightful anecdote from Dr Paul Brand, the medico who did revolutionary work on leprosy. Brand, who grew up in India, was sent to boarding school in England at the age of nine. When he was fourteen he received a telegram telling him that his father had died. The young Brand was heartbroken. A few weeks later a letter arrived that had been written by his father just...

Why Me?

W

I sometimes get asked how I answer the ‘why me?’ question. As my my tremors increase and my movements become slower, it seems a particularly and painfully relevant question. Why me, when I have given my life to serving Christ? Why me, when there’s so much more to do? The truth is, I have never really asked the question, at least not with a sense of anguish or outrage. Lurking...

Good to be alive

G

I’m on the train travelling from Sydney home to Newcastle. The sun is shining as we pass over a shimmering Hawkesbury river. The music of Mumford and Sons plays through my headphones. And I can’t help but feel it’s good to be alive. There are some significant challenges in my life right now, challenges that have engulfed me in swirling emotion and uncertainty. Nonetheless, as I...

Jesus and Suffering

J

“Life is difficult.” So begins Scott Peck’s best selling book, The Road Less Travelled. This has certainly been driven home to me the last couple of years. At some stage most of us experience significant pain. A broken relationship. A debilitating illness. A period of unemployment. A violent assault. And finally, death. Christians are not immune to this. We follow a suffering Saviour who warns...

No, You Cannot Pray for Me

N

“Can I pray for you?” It’s a question I am often asked. Just once I’d like to say “no”. I preach and teach at a lot of different churches and there is always someone moved by the sight of my Parkinsons driven tremors to seek me out to pray with me. Some are very confident, others are very nervous. They have often just completed a course on healing prayer and...

God’s Spankings. Disaster and the Hand of God

G

In February 2011 I walked into my doctor’s rooms to be told I have Parkinson’s disease- that over time I will lose the ability to control my body. At forty five years of age I was young to be diagnosed. There is no cure. For years I have wondered about the role of God when the world doesn’t function as it should. I have debated, theologised and speculated. Now the questions are much more...