Thursday, February 28, 2013

For The Joy...

"And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning it's shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." 
~ Hebrews 12:1-3 ~

Having quoted from Hebrews 12 earlier this week, it would seem that I'm doing an in-depth study of it...and I suppose that I am. However, it's more of a life study of it. 

I'm biting the spatula again.

Those who understand that literal reference, also understand a bit of my literal pain. 

A couple of years ago, I was hospitalized with sudden, mysterious and severe stomach pains, which turned out to be heinous bleeding ulcers along the lining of my esophagus and at the opening to my stomach. I couldn't eat or drink for days, thus the hospital visit - I needed intravenous fluids, and meds that I couldn't take orally. I didn't eat anything solid for more than two weeks. My dear wife would blend rice, chicken and brocoli for me, making a sort of gruel that was still very painful to eat. In addition to this porridge, my diet consisted of chalky medicines and protein shakes. I would take a glass full of chocolatey shake or Carnation Instant Breakfast and chug it as hard and fast as I could. It would usually take two chugs to get through the glass - mostly because of the pain. I'd double over in agony. My only recourse against the pain was to cringe and bite down as hard as I could on a red silicone spatula from our kitchen. We brought it back to the US with us, as more than just a cooking utensil - as a reminder of that ordeal and the seemingly insignificant things God uses to help us in times of need.

This week, I needed it again. I sat on my sofa, doubled-over in pain, silicone between my gritted teeth. 

This scares me, because, here I don't have the Korean medical system (universal health-care) to fall back on. I can't get an endoscopy for $90 or a month of medicine for $10. Here, if the pain gets to the point where I can't bear it, I'll have to shell out thousands of dollars to care for my uninsured esophagus. 

I'm hoping it doesn't come to that, though. I know the foods (and drinks) that trigger acid reflux for me. In the last couple of times I've had this pain, there has been alcohol involved, so I'm giving that up, almost entirely until I can get some kind of health care. Other triggers include coffee, soda, avocados, fried food, and chocolate - many of my favorite things. One might think that if I can avoid that pain, avoiding the foods isn't such a huge loss. Truthfully, though, I find myself feeling sorry for myself, sad that I can't enjoy the what I want - a tall cup of coffee, a hamburger from In-N-Out. 

The afternoon sun shone warmly upon the earth. As the car sped down the road, wind blowing through the open sunroof, a song by Pas Neos played loudly through the stereo system. The soaring lyrics repeated the phrase What a joy set before me! I will endure for the joy set before me. 

I thought about Heaven. 
No more sorrow. 
No more sickness. 
No more pain.
No more sadness. 

An eternity with Christ - my Friend, my Savior, my King.

And so, through the pain, through the sorrow, through the sickness, through the sadness - 

I endure.

With all I have in me, I endure. With strength supplied by God, I endure. For the joy set before me

I endure.

Remembering Christ who endured so much more,

I endure.

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