Monthly Archives: October 2016
Yet at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches like a plant. – Job 14:9
As I was preparing for last Sunday’s worship, I went to sleep after meditating on Job 33:23, “If there is a messenger for him, a Mediator, One among a thousand, to show man His uprightness…”. In the morning, I woke up and as I started preparing for the worship, I realized I was humming a song. And it was a hymn or a song of praise, but a song from a Tamil movie, that too a movie that got released 52 years back, way before I was born. I was stunned and wondered why I even remembered this song, as I have tried my best to leave all movie songs behind me. Then I realized it was because of the Biblical verse I was meditating on. There is a phrase in that verse: One among a thousand. Why would it remind me of an old Tamil movie song? Because the name of that old movie was “Aayirathil oruvan”, which means “One among a thousand”.
The old man, though crucified with Christ, is still not dead. All he needs is the scent of water, he will bud and bring forth branches like a plant. Just a little scent of water is all he needs.
There are few things in life that we know is coming, but till it is right before your eyes, you don’t realize the full impact of it. For years, many of us are lamenting about the decrease in the quality of the education in India. But when I had a chance to see it face to face, it was almost humorous.
Everyday when I was in ICU, as I had mentioned earlier, I was visited by a team of physicians along with a coterie of students who were studying or doing internship. If you have been a teacher for a while and if your family is full of teachers, soon you will be able to estimate the students very soon – by the way they listen to you, the way they write notes and the type of questions they ask – these are pointers that tell you about your students.
So as the students came with their instructors, I started watching them. Initially I felt sorry for the students as most of them had no clue about what was going on and were catching up all the time; and the remaining few knew their notes well. As soon their instructor asked a question, they would remember writing about it in their notes, found it and answered.
Unfortunately I did not see a single medical student who was knowledgeable, who knew their subject and who was at the top of their games. But that is understandable as I assumed they were in their second or third year in their medical studies. However, it was puzzling to me that the nurses who were in the ICU did not care about these students at all; if anything, the nurses treated these medical students with derision. So, imagine my surprise when I finally found out that these students were not medical students, but these are who have already received their M.B.B.S. degree and actually are students who are studying to be MD.
Now, before thinking I am being too harsh on them, let me narrate a conversation that happened between a nephrologist and a student who is studying to be a M.D. in Nephrology. As I had mentioned earlier, all the tests they did on me, gave negative results. And they were puzzled, because they were sure that I had some kind of kidney malfunction or disease that had caused the edema. So, they finally wanted to do a conclusive test. I forgot the name of the test now, but while I was listening to them, the nephrologist told his students that this test is the conclusive one. He explained that the results are always in numbers, and if the numbers are negative, it indicates that there is some problem with the kidneys of the patient. If the numbers are positive, then there is no problem with the kidneys. Very simple, right?
The next day when they came, I was also eager to know the results. The numbers were positive, +30 something. So, it was clear there was nothing wrong with my kidneys. Then the student, who already has a M.B.B.S. degree opened her mouth and spoke. This is the conversation. I am using N to denote the nephrologist and S to denote the student.
N: So, I guess there is nothing wrong with his kidneys.
S: No, sir, there is something seriously wrong with his kidneys.
N: (with a puzzled look) What are you talking about? The result is positive.
S: Yes, that is the problem. It is too positive.
N: What do you mean by that?
S: I mean, it is some +30. That means, there is some problem, right?
N: No. It means nothing. The only thing that matters is whether the number is positive or negative. Positive means no problem with kidneys. Negative means there is some problem. Since, it is positive, his kidneys are fine.
S: But they are too positive, sir.
N: Again, I am confused. What do you mean by too positive?
S: I have never seen anyone’s numbers being greater than 10 before. But for him, it is +30. So, there is a problem.
N: (by now, irritated) So, tell me what is the problem.
S: I don’t know. I am hoping that you would tell me what is wrong with his kidneys.
N: And I am telling you that there is nothing wrong with his kidneys. The numbers are positive.
S: Yeah, but they are too positive.
N: That means nothing. Only the signs matter – positive or negative. The numbers, per se, are meaningless.
S: But they are too high. So there has to be some problem with his kidneys.
Honestly, this is a conversation that took place right before me, regarding my kidneys. And when I was discharged from the ICU, it was into their capable hands, I was given. You can understand my horror. And those horror stories are for future blogs.
So, what was the problem with the student or students? And why the nurses were not treating them with any respect? Very simple. Most of these students who have just finished their M.B.B.S. did not score well in high school. Some of them have scored lower than the nurses who are working under them. But these students got into medical school, because they have money. Almost every single one of the students studying at that medical college, got admission because of money. They were not supposed to be studying to be a physician, let alone be a M. D. With money, they could get a degree. But they could not earn the respect from their subordinates, because they had no wisdom.
For wisdom emanates from the fear of the Lord; and understanding from the knowledge of the Holy One. (Proverbs 9:10)
In the previous blog, I wrote about how my face was distorted and how everyone who saw my face, averted their eyes right away because of how I looked. But there was one exception to that. Though this happened before I was admitted to the ICU, it was there I had a chance to meditate on that exception; hence it is one of the lessons I learned in ICU.
My three-year old niece, Irene Charlotte, was the exception. She is very close to me and my wife. Before becoming sick, I used to spend lots of time with her, carrying on my shoulders and playing with her. When I became ill suddenly, I was completely bed-ridden as the swellings in my legs were very painful. And it bothered the kid. But she would visit me every single day, massage my legs for a second or two, then close her eyes, mumble something and would say to me, “Uncle, you will be fine soon. I have prayed and Jesus will heal you. Once you are healed, you should carry me again in your shoulders. Okay.”
Since we did not know the bitterness of the cup that the Lord had allowed in our life, we would just laugh whenever she did this. But soon, my face started ballooning. In few days, my face shape changed and at times, even I could not identify myself. One of my eyes was so swollen, you could not see my right eye at all. Even the left eye was barely open. It was a very unpleasant sight, that scared even the adults. If that was not enough, my body started bulging and I started to look like a huge water barrel.Within 10 days, my size went from M/L to XXL and my hands were so huge and heavy, it was difficult for a young man to lift one of my hands. Even the fingers were so large, I could not even type anything on the laptop. I looked really horrible.
Yet, Irene would come every morning and evening; instead of being scared of me, she would give kiss my cheeks, compel me to open my closed eye, then massage my legs, kiss my feet, mumble a prayer and then reminding me that once I am healed, I must carry on my shoulders. Every day. Twice. She did that, without showing any fear or disgust in her face. Of course, recently when she saw one of the photos taken during that time, she freaked out. But during those difficult times, she was the only comfort we all had. When we asked her if she was not scared, she would smile and say, “This is my uncle. I love him. He is sick today, but soon will be healed. Then he will carry me on his shoulders. And, of course, I am not afraid of my uncle.”
Even on July 8th, the day I was taken to the emergency ward, where physicians and nurses working there got scared by how I looked, Irene came in the morning and gave me the kisses, massage, prayer and the reminder that I should carry her once I am healed.
Now, I wrote in the previous blog, how many people who love me so much, were unable to look into my eyes, and were crying. While they did that because they love me, what I received from them was pity. But with Irene, it was unadulterated love. When I thought about those tears, it always put me down. However, when I thought about what Irene did, it always brought a smile unto my face, warmth into my soul and a sliver of hope to my broken spirit. And it also reminded me of the Bible verse: Love bears all things. (1 Corinthians 13:7) I thank the Lord for giving us this little blessing and may the LORD bless her for all the love and joy she brought into our lives during this difficult time.
Now when I meditate on the love of God, shown to a sinner like me, I remember this unadulterated love shown to me during the toughest time of my life. Our sins against the Most Holy God are so repulsive; and the effects of those sins on our soul and spirit are so hideous. And even when we repent, when we feel bad for our sins, others look at our pathetic state and feel pity for us; they avert their eyes, because they realize how vile our sins have been; and they are unable to stomach the stench that arises from the effects of our sins. While this pity looks good, it does not help me much. For it may give me comfort at that time, but it does not give hope to my heart.
Then there is God. HE does not show pity to me; instead He showers His love on me. No matter how hideous I am, how disgusting my countenance is, He embraces me, He kisses me and He tells the world, “This is My son; he was dead, but now he is alive; he was sick, but My Son and his Brother Jesus Christ has healed him; now he will carry this Gospel around the world.” God does not get tired of saying this again and again. And this love gives me hope. This amazing love gives me comfort. This unfathomable love makes me smile.
Considering how holy our God is, it becomes all the more confounding that He loves a vile sinner like me. And to show the love by hugging me, kissing me, when I am so appalling in my soul, in my spirit and in my body… yes, love bears all things. And thank You, Father, for Your wonderful love; thank You Jesus, for Your grace; thank You Holy Spirit, for Your guidance. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.
As I was lying in the emergency ward, slowly I started to realize that the hospital staff were avoiding looking at my face. I was not surprised by that, as I had gotten used to such aversion by then. Some of the church believers who visited me at home when I was sick, would turn their faces away as soon as they took one look at my face. Initially I used to think it was because of disgust, but then as the tear drops rolled down their cheeks, I understood that it was because they were unable to accept what had happened to my face, that they turned their faces away.
But what I remember most was when my daughter came to see me at the emergency ward, she had actually refused to come inside as she was worried in what condition I was. Only after she was assured that I had become stable, she came in. Yet, the moment she saw my face, she turned her face away as she could not stomach what she had seen.
I don’t blame any of them for their reaction. Because before going to ICU, one night I woke up around 3 AM and just wanted to see how I looked. And the face I saw in the mirror scared me so much, I cried so loudly. Not only my face had changed, but one of my eyes was completely blocked because of the swelling and even the other eye, I was only able to open partially. It was a horrible face to look at, especially at 3 in the morning. So, I don’t blame any of them for their reaction. But they all had few questions in their minds: is it really God’s plan for my face to be thus disfigured? How could it be? Isn’t our God a loving God? To be honest, I had the same questions on that morning when I cried aloud.
But when I was at ICU, as I was thinking about all these, suddenly I remembered one of most known passages from the Bible – the 53rd chapter from the Book of Isaiah where he writes about the suffering Servant. And it made me realize how much the God our Father loves us.
Think about this. I am not that good looking to begin with. So, if I am disfigured, not many would even know the difference. But we are talking about Jesus Christ. HE is Chief among ten thousands. HE is altogether lovely. Jesus is fairer than the children of men. HE is so precious. His lips utter the most gracious words a human could ever hear. His eyes show the love He has for us. In person, Jesus is overflowing with all the graces and unction of the Spirit of the Living God. HE has all the glory of God our Father. And His Father and our Father, His God and our God, is very pleased with His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ.
Yet, when the time came for His Son to suffer for our sins, God our Father allowed it. HE knew that His beloved Son’s face would be swollen because they slapped Him and pulled the hair from His beard. Our Father in Heaven knew that His Son’s face would be covered with spit, sweat, blood and dirt. That Jesus, His Son, would be pierced for our transgressions and for our iniquities, He would be crushed. Yet, our heavenly Father allowed it.
As I consider the anger of those who love me, that the Lord had allowed such a trial for me, I look at what He allowed His only Son to undergo for my sake, and to be honest, I realize there is no way I could ever understand this love, this love God has for us. And all I can do is, bow my head in humility and say, “Lord, I am not worthy. But You sent Your Word and You healed me. All praise, honor, glory and strength is Yours, forever and ever. Amen.”
One of the things I wanted to learn when I was a kid was photography. I love photography, though I don’t spend anymore time on it now; God willing, I will buy a DSLR camera soon and will resume shooting photos. Anyway, I learned photography all on my own. Had many different cameras and still own a Canon SLR which I love. So, you can understand how much I hate how everyone is an expert photographer with their smartphones. And, oh, will someone ban these selfie madness, please?
I have no problems against selfies, per se. But so many of the selfies are horrible, with the facial futures distorted, foreheads protruding, etc. It is like aliens taking photos of themselves. And those who take those horrible photos, keep taking them. With the same facial expressions.
I cannot talk more on this, as both my daughters are selfie-lovers. And one day, one of my daughters sent me her latest selfie and I was left wondering why does an alien look like my daughter. I wish I can post that photo here, but then there will be murder and the next blog would be the last one – my obituary. So, I will skip that part. I called her to tell that was a horrible photo, but by the time, I called, in those few minutes, that same photo had received hundreds of likes and comments like, “Wow”, “Amazing” and “Oh, you are so cute”. I must have forgotten my English, apparently.
So, instead of listening to me, my daughter ended up giving a mini lecture on how I don’t have the “aesthetic” eye and how I don’t know what the modern trend today is. Since this is not the first time this had happened, I just let it go, but I was very worried about my apparent lack of “aesthetic” eye.
But then yesterday, my 3-year old niece came and started browsing the photographs in my laptop. As she came across that “aesthetic” photo, she recognized my daughter, but then in revulsion, asked me: “Why does your daughter look like an onan?” (Onan is the Tamil word for the reptile Calotes versicolor.) I could not control my laughter and the kid looked at me, and with irritation, asked me, “But, uncle, why do you have such ugly photos in your computer? You should delete them.”
I know that this is cheap, but I felt so vindicated. Because at the end, only a kid can tell that the emperor has no clothes, right? LOL
In the Gospel according to Mark, 14:51 talks about a young man who followed our Lord as He was arrested by the soldiers. And when a soldier spotted him and held on to his garment, the young man ran, leaving the garment aside; and he obviously was not wearing anything inside and hence, ran naked. And there are many arguments about who that naked young man is. The most common interpretation is that the young man was Mark himself. I am going to go with that interpretation for this one.
In Acts 12:12, we see that Peter, being freed from the prison by Divine Providence, came to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, the evangelist. And many people were praying there for the release of Peter.
As I was meditating on this, I was surprised to realize that many people had gathered in the house of the mother of a young man, who on that night when the Lord was arrested, ran away naked; and they were praying for a man, who on that same night, denied our Lord thrice. Yet, the Lord heard their prayers and delivered Peter. And Mark went on to write the very first Gospel and became very useful assistant to Peter, the Apostle to Jews and to Paul, the Apostle to Gentiles.
Prayer prevails. It does not matter what your past holds; it may have some dramatic failures or abject humiliations. But are you ready to surrender yourself to the Lord and pray to Him? Then He will surely fulfill His purpose for you and will use you in ways that you can never imagine. So, no matter what your past history has against you, pray continually.
I am grateful that the Lord saved my life from death. But the Lord kept speaking to me about the certain death that awaited me, roughly 15 weeks ago. To be honest, I was grateful, but I don’t think I understood the seriousness of the evil that was coming up against me.
Today morning, I was reading a sermon by Spurgeon, based on John 5:9 (Sermon #2568). In the sermon, Spurgeon had listed six miracles that our Lord Jesus Christ did on Sabbath days. One of the miracles was healing a man with dropsy (Luke 14:1-6). While I have read my Bible in Tamil and know most of the diseases, I don’t read my English Bible as much as I should. So, I didn’t know what disease this ‘dropsy’ is and made a mental note to look at this disease after today’s service. But as I read a little further, Spurgeon mentioned about a man he met, who was suffering from dropsy and few days later, that man was dead. And what the man had mentioned about his disease, suddenly opened my eyes and I realized that dropsy is edema. And honest to God, I didn’t know that the disease itself is fatal till this morning.
As I searched further and asked few questions on the internet, the summary of the replies I got was one of astonishment – that I survived without any medication for more than 30 days, considering how severe I was affected. One physician even said that it has to be a miracle, as from the symptoms and the photographs I showed, the disease must have surely killed me.
It was only then I realized why the physician in my town was so sure of my death in the next two hours on that morning and why the chief doctor at the emergency ward asked my wife to be ready for the worst. I also remembered one Christian nurse telling me that in the seven years she has been working at the emergency ward, she had never seen a case like mine before and how amazed all the staff working at the hospital were, that I survived.
Just then, my wife came upstairs with the morning tea and was initially worried to see me sitting there with tears in my eyes. Then I explained what I just read, and with a grateful heart, we praised our Lord. May His Name alone be glorified.
The Christian’s aim in life is to live for God’s Glory. If he does so, no persecution can ever shake him. If his goods are spoiled, he says, “If it glorifies God for me to lose my property, I am no loser. I gave my goods to God years ago.” If he is put in prison, he says, “I have lost my liberty, but I am no loser. I gave up my liberty to God long ago.” If they tell him that he will die, he says, “Well, I am no loser, for I gave Him my life long ago. I am altogether Christ’s.” While your objective is God, you will be bold as a lion!
Recently, a friend of mine asked me a question and I replied, using Ephesians 6:12 as the template for my answer. Especially I focused on how Apostle Paul mentions two forces of evil – powers in this dark world and evil spirits in the heavenly places.
I had read somewhere long back what the differences are between these two evil forces. I am paraphrasing what I told my friend.
The dark forces are easy to identify. They are vulgar, obscene and one look at the forces, you will know you have to avoid them. Even the idols depicting these forces are easy identifiable as they will be grotesque, eliciting a sense of revulsion on looking at them. These forces use vulgar language, go on the offensive and are very coarse in the behavior.
The spirits in the heavenly places are almost polar opposite in their behavior. They are cultured, decent, and it is not easy to realize they are evil forces just by looking at them. At the idols depicting these forces will be beautiful, with a calm face. Generally these forces do not use vulgarity or obscenity; not because they are virtuous, but because they know how to conceal these characters. They cajole you and make you feel better.
But in the end, both are evil forces, and we must not choose one over another.
This was my answer to the question my friend asked. And it left that friend utterly confused. “Patrick, I understand what you explained now about the various demonic forces. But what that has to do with my original question?”, asked that confused friend. So what was the original question?
The question was: “If you are an American citizen, who would you vote for? For the Democratic candidate or the Republican candidate?”
May God, in His mercy, save the USA!
Unanswered yet the prayer your lips have pleaded
In agony of heart these many years?
Does faith begin to fail? Is hope departing?
And think you all in vain those falling tears?
Say not the Father hath not heard your prayer;
You shall have your desire sometime, somewhere.
Unanswered yet? Nay do not say ungranted;
Perhaps your work is not yet wholly done.
The work began when first your prayer was uttered,
And God will finish what He has begun.
If you will keep the incense burning there,
His glory you shall see sometime, somewhere.
Unanswered yet? Faith cannot be unanswered,
Her feet are firmly planted on the Rock;
Amid the wildest storms she stands undaunted,
Nor quails before the loudest thunder shock.
She knows Omnipotence has heard her prayer,
And cries, “It shall be done”– sometime, somewhere.
— Miss Ophelia G. Browning