Yesterday was one of the most difficult days for me since therapy began. Difficult not in terms of pain or unpleasant discomfort, but the reality of a previously unknown to me total physical weakness and lack of strength. I am, after all, now already 8 weeks in therapy, now in the 3rd cycle, and had always been able to report that the side effects had so far been very limited (and they continue to be). But I probably didn’t realize that in the first two cycles I was probably still drawing on my otherwise good health and physical reserves of strength.
Now, however, I have already felt in the course of Saturday and Sunday that despite a lot of rest and few appointments, despite sleeping long at night, I already wake up in the morning with a lack of strength and perceived fatigue such as I have never known. According to the doctor and nurses, this is “completely normal” with the heavy medications I receive as part of the therapy. But I just didn’t realize and know it until now, and that’s when it hit and shook me with quite a bit of force, especially yesterday. Who knows me, knows that I am always full of ideas and energy and also physically the Lord had always given me a good constitution so far.
To have to let go all of a sudden, to be made aware of my complete weakness and dependence by the Lord, was not easy for me and is quite humbling – but healing! Some tears were shed. Already on Sunday morning I wanted to participate in both parts of the service full of enthusiasm, but had to admit to myself that just sitting there (and of course singing along with all my heart) in the first part had exhausted my strength. At home, I had to concentrate hard during Max’s important sermon via livestream to stay awake and involved and to follow the structure. Also there I realized that the spiritual forces are no longer so 100% there. And here and there also suddenly mistakes creep into my work, which I simply overlook. Also to see how in the course of the day my wife again comes to the edge of her strength, because then so much weighs on her, and I can not relieve her, hurts and makes me cry like a child.
And the character is challenged: Suddenly I become impatient and grumble to myself when something doesn’t work out; instead of humbly asking God for wisdom and solution. Yes, I still have to learn to let myself change in order to become more like Christ.
And on Monday morning I had to cancel Erich my participation in the brothers’ meeting for the evening. Yes, it is not easy to assess this realistically and, above all, to accept it. All the more the message of Max’s sermon about the four biblical principles of “self-care” and pastoral care for others, which he found in Elihu’s behavior towards Job 36 and 37, helped me and Dietlind.
Because they are important for ourselves and in helping others, I would like to share with you here a summary of the four principles Max elaborated on Sunday:
- The soul should have time and space for its concern, that is why Elihu waits (Job 32:4) and gives Job time to speak out and reveal himself. Good counseling begins with very good listening and waiting. The soul is encouraged to speak out its grievances and pour out its distress before God.
- Elihu wants to help Job give his thoughts a different direction of vision (Job 36:3); therefore, he avoids judgment or even condemnation from his own point of view, but points to the vision and perfect grace of God, who, though all-knowing and all-powerful, yet despises no one (Job 36:4). Job must recognize his wrong thinking and realize that through suffering God wants our attention, wants to open our ear (Job 36:15). The goal here is to leave our cause to God and wait for Him.
- Elihu wants to prepare Job for God’s speaking (Job 36:22-3). Only God can shed light on the darkness; He knows the way and the answer to our questions. Therefore, Elihu’s goal is to bind Job’s thoughts to the Word of God. He is wise, his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. He turns his grace to the humble, but rejects human pride and haughtiness.
- Elihu wants to encourage Job with the view of our future hope (Job 36:7). The Bible shows us the promises of God through which we get perseverance, comfort and hope. That is why Job persevered steadfastly in the end and experienced God’s compassion and mercy (Jas 5:11). With our God and through our God, we have a glorious future!
The last verse of the sermon is what I want to cling to and learn to hold on to now even in my powerlessness:
He remembered that many years ago I had once led our family choir with a text from Psalm 84. In fact, for my oldest brother’s wedding, I had made a little choral setting to Psalm 84:12, “God is Sun and Shield,” which we then performed as a choir at the wedding.
In this way we are strengthened again and again without our doing anything. Here in Rafz lives a couple, Robert and Vreni, who go to the Christian church in Effretikon. We had not spoken for some time; now they called once again yesterday to inquire about us, and were very affected by the news of my illness. Later Robert came by, brought a flower greeting with a card and a Bible verse, and spontaneously offered their help, e.g. for driving services. These are just always encouragements that make us very happy.
And yesterday there was a very special joy: Priscilla and Christoph received a little daughter, Yerusha, from God – the gift and miracle of new life, and we thus have a little granddaughter. We are so grateful to God for the healthy baby girl, and invite you to pray with us for this little human child and the new parents!
Above all, we thank our God – “HE IS OUR SAVIOR!”.
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