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A SELECTION OF PRISCILLA MAURICES' MESSAGES ON CHRONIC ILLNESS
Priscilla Maurice's book which I have updated into a modernised form gives excellent advice on handling chronic illness.
I have summarized just a few of her messages here:
I am so isolated and cut off”
a time to recognise that many others are suffering in the same way, in the worldwide Body of Christ to which you still belong, though laid aside.
a call to sympathize with all those alone against their will
a time to value
act of kindness, or compassion, however inappropriate or small
a time to overcome inordinate, carnal cravings for sympathy and attention
a time to refrain from expecting too much from others who are busy
I am not useful anymore and so my life has no value”
a time to be called to a “ministry of healing”, one of the special orders of the Church
a time to be a blessing to your carer, and family
a time to analyse your own sins and faults and pray, if you have strength
a time ask God to show you all the sins in your heart and to work at them
a time to repent of any sins of which you become aware
a time to accept and desire the perfect sanctifying will of God
a time to battle with inner discontents, vow to quench them and to list your many blessings
a time to strengthen your faith and relationship with God
a time of preparation for something you are ignorant - for more service or for Heaven
a time to “polish the stone of your soul”
a time to read and know Scripture, BCP and literature that builds you up in Christian truth
I am too much of a burden to others”
a time to accept that your illness is not a mistake – that God has designed it specifically to refine your particular character, sends it for his own purposes, to glorify Himself and serve His Kingdom (if handled in the light of Scripture).
a time to recognise that others need your illness as much as you do, to remind them of death and frailty, to act as “ballast” to steady their own lives, which will otherwise become unwisely detached from reality – lives like overinflated balloons, floating untethered
a time to recognise that your illness is “public property”, not your own private property
a time to recognise that how you endure your illness could influence the course of lives, change the course of history, support true teaching, support the whole worldwide Church
a time to be understanding of the limits your life can put upon others and to seek not to expect too much from others.
a time not to judge others or the wider spiritual situation you are in
I just cannot face years of this illness”
You are not called to live it all at once, just hour by hour, drawing on the support of prayer/faith
God gives strength hour by hour – pray for strength like, daily bread
God sees you need this, so accept it
No pain, no gain”
Always say about every trial, “It is God's will”
Thank God even for things which seem bad at the time
Where is God in this?
In the crucified Christ, who fully understands this, and even worse spiritual suffering
God is in charge - determines length of this trial and never tests beyond our ability to endure
Not willing for anyone to suffer, unless there is real spiritual gain or justification
Merciful and compassionate
Healing and strenthening you in unrecognised and mysterious ways
Defending you - from worse dangers
Speaking through scripture, BCP and in Bible promises, in others ministering to you
Responding to confessions, prayers, in dealing with you in compassion
Why has God let this happen to me?
To glorify Himself and His Word
To call you to higher service
To give you a specialized ministry
To make you spiritually “whole” – living in reality, not in an unsteady “fantasy world”
Nothing has happened to you which is not common to the lot of man and of Christians
To stop you grumbling like Israel in the desert
To “test” you – to bring you to the point of maturity in which He can fully bless you
To chasten and perfect you, to make you stronger in faith and more like Christ
Preparation, growth, chastening, perfecting, building faith to know what is in your own heart and repent of it
To grow spiritually strong, able to face your worst fears
To humble you, your pride, independence and self will
To throw you on Him alone, by showing you that He alone is trustworthy
To teach you human frailty and the limits of “the flesh”
To teach you that all of life and death are completely in God's hands
To create in you imperceptibly, and contrary to everything you feel is happening - love, contentment, patience, self control, submission, endurance - all the Christian virtues.
To bring you and your story “forth as gold”, to the glory of the true Christian gospel
to bless members of Christ's Church, many of whom you will never meet or know in this life
SOME QUOTES FROM “SICKNESS ITS TRIALS AND BLESSINGS” (from my modernized version)
It is best to look upon illness as a state wholly different from any condition that you have ever yet known. It involves a wholly different set of distresses, temptations, trials and blessings. It is not to be looked at or treated like the state of health. Look upon each little struggle as a trial i.e. as meaning “that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not." (Deuteronomy 8:2)”. It is a painful thing to feel as if you are in a cage in illness and it offers the constant temptation to beat your wings against the sides of it.
You may have a ministry to your family. Do you have parents, or brothers, or sisters, or children living under the same roof with you? Merely talking to them cheerfully, making them feel that they are always welcome, that you are ever ready to share their problems, sympathizing with them, sharing their interests and pleasures as well as their sorrows will make your illness a blessing for them. Your house may become blessed for your sake because God who has linked you to the “prisoners and captives” can bless you, and “the places all around my hill” (Ezekiel 34:26)”.
If we consider our illness as our own private property which has reference only to ourselves it becomes just that: our own private property. Its lessons are personal and so are its blessings. Instead, we must never lose sight of the twofold character of our illness.... But stay on your perch quietly and you will not feel the bondage and imprisonment of your cage. After all, it is God who has shut you in and therefore you are safe there, and only there”.
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