Battling Liver Cancer For 20 Years Fourth Edition

James Lau Guan-Ho

Printed by Ultra Supplies, Singapore
My 5th & 6th Liver Cancer Occurrences
First published on 31st January 2018
Second edition on March 2018
My 7th Liver Cancer Occurrence
First published on 7th July 2018
Second edition on 8th August 2018
Third edition on 1st October 2018
1st Reprint on 5th November 2018
2nd Reprint on 14th November 2018
3rd Reprint on 20th November 2018
Battling Liver Cancer For 20 Years
First published on 31st January 2019
1st Reprint on 3rd March 2019
Second edition on 17th July 2019
Third edition on 20th August 2019
Fourth edition on 4th December 2019

With thanks from the Internet for the photos.


A Note to the Reader
What lessons have I learnt in over 20 years of experience with liver cancer? In all, I had 11 liver cancer recurrences, with 17 lesions in 7 segments, some recurring 2-3 times in the same segment. I have done two resections, one treatment of radioactive nuclear medicine, 7 Radio Frequency Ablations (RFA), one alcohol ablation, one insertion of nuclear medicine Y-90 and 2 Transarterial Chemoembolization (TACE).

My prolonged suffering has driven me to learn more about how to mature in my spiritual life and how to cope with cancer through extensive reading as shown by the more than 1,000 articles that I share in my website

With the help of my Lord, Jesus Christ, I conclude that love and hope are of paramount importance; that when I wait on Him I can find comfort; that I am given the strength, the grace and the courage to face the fear, pain, anxiety, stress and grief that this prolonged adversity brings; that my suffering lifts up my heart towards God; that I can trust God’s unconditional love for me.

So, can I simplify, summarize and systemize the lessons learnt so that I can teach myself and help others easily?

I have compiled the journalizing of my hurt and suffering into a book. And in my meditation and reflection, I would like to reduce the lessons learnt into the following questions:

  1. How do I cope with my prolonged adversity?
  2. How do I mature in Christian Love?
  3. What is my understanding of true forgiveness?
    The primary benefit of my book is for the reader to be attracted enough to read appendixes 15, 14 and 20


in that order. The secondary benefit in my journalizing is to share my experience, that with today’s modern medical advances, an early detection of diseases gives one a better chance of cure.

I find appendixes 15, 14 and 20 very useful and helpful.
In fact, I am currently reading them slowly through again, to gain more insight for myself.

Appendix 15 talks about Coping with Adversity
Most of us are not taught how to cope with adversity, loss, grief or our “new normal.” We just muddle along with our emotional up and down. The ride is like a roller coaster. When I was in my prolonged “new normal” health condition, my adult children came from overseas to support me and to be with me. However, whenever I wanted to talk about my suffering to them, they diverted away from the subject. Perhaps, they thought that by encouraging me to voice my hurt, it may lead me to wallow in self-pity. They did not know how to cope neither did I, until I read the attached appendix 15. I consider this the simplest and most fantastic article on coping with any adversity.

Utimately, most of our suffering arises from our human relationship problems. And appendix 15 shows us that in order to heal, we have to name, to affirm and pour out our pain, face-to-face with a caring individual. The individual must listen to his out-pouring of hurt and not treat it as self- pity. Then he has a chance to accept the pain quickly so as to move on. Hopefully he will also listen to his conscience, his heart or to the still small voice. He can then act and move forward in his life and not be stuck in self-pity, in being depressed or in a rut.


For me, I have listened to the still small voice telling me to move away from a pessimistic negative attitude to a positive loving attitude. How? Dr Ira Byock has prescribed a very strong human relationship medicine by proposing to us to say the following:
Please forgive me
I forgive you
Thank you and
I love you
I find that I have to apply my free will to choose this decision and to carry it out sincerely. This may result in reconciliation and joy in the human relationship.
I find it useful to watch how Anwar Ibrahim of Malaysia coped with his time in prison at the recent Singapore Summit 2018 Live Interview. He said, “It was painful,” and he too
emphasized about “compassion and the need to forgive to move on in life.” [5.42m]
I marvel at what other individuals uniquely cope with “Grief from YouTube” and to read “A Roller-coaster Journey Through Grief by William Wan”

Appendix 14 talks about Christian Love
Paul uses:
Two words to describe what Love is—-patient and kind
Eight words to describe what Love is not—-not jealous, not pompous, not inflated, not rude, not self-seeking, not quick-tempered, not brooding over injuries and not rejoicing over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
Four words to describe what Love does all the time—bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.
In 14 words Paul described Christian Love.


Reverent Albert Shamon unpacks and details what these 14 words mean into a book. He puts them into practical ways for us to show love to the people around us. This is the best book I have read on the subject of Christian love.
The ultimate aim of all of us is to want to live life more abundantly and to the fullest of our ability. In our spiritual life, also, we want today to be better than yesterday and tomorrow to be better than today. We want to be at peace, joy and rest with God, others and ourselves in this competitive 21st century.

Appendix 20 is about Forgiveness
In today’s competitive world we live in an environment that is volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous and disruptive (VUCAD). Everyone from the CEO to the manual worker looks after me, myself, I and my ego first, last and always!!! The CEO will start giving the pink slips when he can’t meet the financial profit for the Company. Since we are not a robot, we can’t help being fearful, anxious, stressed, scared and threatened. We are afraid of being sacked. We are fearful of losing our jobs. We want to make sure that we are able to bring food to the family table.
Under this constant stress we develop and harbour an attitude that is full of resentment, rage, anger, envy, retaliation, bitterness, hatred, unforgiveness and violence. We are drinking poison and hoping nothing will happen to us. These negative attitudes will play havoc in our immune systems, which will go awry at the DNA level. Our cancer cells and suppressor cells will be out of balance and we will develop diseases.
Unfortunately, many may carry this stressful attitude back into the home and they bully and abuse their children and spouse.


How can this be changed? What lessons must we learn? What knowledge must we first acquire, to put ourselves right? How can we get our cells into balance so that we are healthy again? How can we stop ourselves from perpetuating these abuses?

Christian Love is one way to help us to stop from perpetuating these abuses and perhaps help us to also be healthy. But, Christian love will come about only if I practice forgiveness first. I find it very difficult to say and to truly mean “I forgive you,” without God’s help. But if I don’t forgive, I will not be able to practice Christian Love.

Appendix 20 helps me, at 80 years old, to understand the full meaning of what it means to forgive. I have just found out that my earlier knowledge of forgiveness is incomplete. I have missed a vital objective of forgiveness, in that it must ultimately lead to LOVE my enemies, competitors or rivals as well.
When God tells me in His Word to forgive others, He does not stop there. He goes on to instruct me to love, to do good, to pray and to bless my enemies too.
Jesus gave me the true reason for forgiveness, “For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:32-36)


I find it very enlightening to listen to personal accounts about “Forgiveness from TedTalk
I know that no one can be a blessing to himself or others—if he does not love or have compassion. And Mother Teresa has helped me to understand that love must include service to bring me the joy, peace, rest and health that I am looking for:

The fruit of silence is PRAYER.
The fruit of prayer is FAITH.
The fruit of faith is LOVE.
The fruit of love is SERVICE.
The fruit of service is PEACE (JOY).

(Meditations from A Simple Path)

And the service can be as simple as for me to wait patiently for the old folks to slowly pay for her grocery at the check-out counter or walk across the road at the green light or give way to impatient drivers. In my face to face contact with another individual I must consciously make it a point to smile, to be courteous, useful, helpful and kind. In this way I can make a contribution and a difference in my life.

As Emily Dickenson says:
“If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in

James Lau Guan-Ho 17th July 2019


A Note to the Reader iii
My Brief Liver Cancer History 1
My Recent Liver Cancer Journey 6
God’s Grace 7
Our Perplexing Trials 9
Choosing His Blessing 13
Being Troubled 16
Suffering and Anguish 18
“Please forgive me” and “I forgive you” 20
“Thank you” or Gratitude 23
“I love you” 29
Trust in God = Trust in Christ 31
Coping With Grief 36
Love and Service 39
Joy, Happiness or Peace 42
Chronic Dry Cough 47
Lessons I Learn 50
A Prayer 52
My 7th Liver Cancer Occurrence 53
Trust God, Trust the Doctors 54
Obey God or “Surrender” to God 59
An Icon 60
Fear Not 62
Holy Oil 65
The TACE Procedure 66
My greatest Lesson Learnt—Forgiveness 68
Forgiveness is A Necessity for Healing 72
I wish to Proclaim what Jesus has done for me 73
Spending My Time in 2018 75
9th Liver Cancer Occurrence 79
My Reaction or My Response 82
The Choices we Face Every Day 85


Joy by Henri J M Nouwen 89
Do I know that God loves me unconditionally? 93
Second TACE Procedure 98
The Snake and the Saw 100
How did the 1st miracle happen? 103
Coping with crises, new normal, set-back, losses 105
Trust Jesus = Trust the Catcher 107
Crucifixion, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus 108
7 liver cancer recurrences at 11 locations since 25/5/17 111
Unconditional Trust when we Suffer 113
Ravi Zacharias Sermons from YouTube 114
Nabeel Qureshi Sermons from YouTube 115
Various Types of Healing 116
Holy Oil—Prayers by Priest 120
Positive Attitude Reminder by Joel Osteen 121
Hard Questions 122
What is the Mathematical Probability of Fulfilling 48 Prophesies? 123
Movies on Paul and Jesus Christ from YouTube 124
Hallelujah or Wise Permission 124
Happy News and Sad News 125
Glucose Results—Fasting in mmol/L 127
Diabetes Doctor 128
Type 2 Diabetes 129
My Weight Loss Results 138
My 80/20 Eating Rule 138
10th MRI Results 143
Various Procedures Done Over Last 2 Years 143
Constipation 146
I lost 13.0 kg following My 80/20 Eating Rule 146


1 1st Liver Cancer Operation Experience by JLGH 148
2 2nd Liver Cancer operation Experience by JLGH 165
3 Start of my spiritual journey–42 days hospital stay by JLGH 168
4 I Faced My Own Death 3 Times—About My Inward Journey by JLGH 177
5 My Recent Medical Crisis by JLGH 184
6 Don’t be knocked out by adversity or suffering6 by JLGH 196
7 Shall we Pray for the Healing of Disease by J R Miller 209
8 Blessings and Curses by JLGH 214
9 Living Life by Grace by Pablo Martinez 222
10 Suffering, Why Me? by Philip Yancey 249
11 Healing Words by Dr Ira Byock 267
12 A Gift for God–Mother Teresa 291
13 Comfort Through Personal Helpfulness by J R Miller 306
14 Love People by Rev Albert Shamon 310
15 Coping with Grief and Loss by Melinda Smith, Lawrence Robinson and Jeanne Segal. Last
updated: October 2017 386
16 Love is shown by Work in Marriage by JLGH 401
17 Learning how to Love one another by St Therese of Lisieux 410
18 Work like a horse or work like a steward by JLGH 441
19 Forgiving our Enemies brings us Enormous Benefits by Lee Strobel 450
20 Forgiveness is A Necessity for Healing by Dr Michelle K Strydom 473
21 Who I Am in Christ by Michelle K Strydom 498
22 Joy by Henri J M Nouwen 502
23 Healing Scriptures in Old Testament from GNT, Good News Translation 519
24 Healing Scriptures in New Testament from NKJV 529
25 Movies on Paul the Apostle in YouTube 544
26 Movies on Jesus Christ in YouTube 545


My Brief Liver Cancer History
I was told personally by a few doctors that it is a miracle that I am alive. Why? Because in the 1990s, practically all people who suffered from liver cancer did not survive for more than one year. I am still living after over 20 years of being diagnosed with liver cancer.

Why am I recording my experiences with liver cancer? I believe I have been touched by God’s mercy and grace. God has provided me with good and talented doctors who are up to-date with modern medical advances which facilitate my recovery from liver cancer. I wish also to show that with modern medical advances, cancer is no longer the deadly disease it used to be. Cancer can be conquered, provided it is discovered early.

Normally when a person is told he/she has a second cancer occurrence, he/she will be devastated by the news. Thus, I can say that it was no fun to be told I have my 9th liver cancer occurrence lately. Although it is less deadly than some 15 – 20 years ago, it is still a nasty and terrorizing disease! I am scared. I can’t help being worried, anxious and fearful.
And when I go to the Internet to find out more on the subject of cancer, cancer is still an awful experience. Since remission is always measured in terms of 5 years and of percentage, a layman like me finds it hard to comprehend. Whatever it was, I reeled and suffered.
Suffering is a complex subject and I have listened to many talks on suffering and read hundreds of articles on the matter, but there is still no single silver bullet to solve the mystery. At different stages of my life, I learn different aspects about suffering and adversity. That’s alright.


What I have recorded of my experiences in my website are as follows:

  1. My first liver cancer experience occurred in April 1999 on segments VI and VII.
    1st Liver Cancer Operation Experience1
  2. My second liver cancer occurred in February 2000 on segment VII. It was 3cm and on the residual right hepatic lobe.
    2nd Liver Cancer operation Experience2
  3. Soon after my second liver resection I was amongst the first 3 in Singapore to be given radioactive substance to the liver directly through an angiogram.
    Start of my spiritual journey–42 days hospital stay3
  4. I wrote about facing my own death and my inward journey.
    I Faced My Own Death 3 Times—About My Inward Journey4
  5. My third liver cancer occurred in April 2013 on segment VIII (1.8 cm) and segment IVa which is near a major artery. I was free from liver cancer for more than 12 years.
    My Recent Medical Crisis5
  6. My fourth liver cancer occurred on October 2014 at segment VIII at 1.4 cm.
    Don’t be knocked out by adversity or suffering6
  7. My 5th Liver Cancer Occurrence
    For more than 2.5 years I was free from cancer but on 25 May 2017, liver cancer was found on Segment VIII (6.3 x 5.1 cm) and on Segment V (0.9 cm).
    As the Segment VIII cancer was so large and aggressive, nuclear medicine Y-90 was inserted into the liver through a catheter in my left hand to shrink the cancer.
    As for the cancer at Segment V, liquid alcohol was used to cure the cancer. This proved unsuccessful for the tumor had increased in size from 0.9 cm to 1.5 cm. The proposal was to use TACE or RFA to cure it. Since my body was used to RFA, I decided to use RFA and on 22 August 2017, the procedure was successfully carried out.
  8. My 6th Liver Cancer Occurrence
    Unfortunately, two months later, on 26 October, another liver cancer occurred on Segment IV (1.1 cm). On 21 November 2017 the RFA was successfully carried out.
  9. My 7th Liver Cancer Occurrence
    My MRI on 17/5/18 showed that Segment VIII has shrunk from 6.3 x 5.1 cm to 2.1 x 1.1 cm in 11 months.
    The MRI history for this Segment VIII is as follows:
    09/06/17—-6.3 x 5.1 cm
    21/06/17 Y-90 was introduced to shrink the tumor
    22/08/17—-5.0 x 4.1 cm
    20/10/17—-5.2 x 3.8 cm
    15/01/18—-4.1 x 2.8 cm
    17/05/18—-2.1 x 1.1 cm


The sad news is that 5 new lesions have appeared as follows:
In Segment II, a 1.3cm nodule and another 3mm nodule have appeared. They showed typical cancer features.
In Segment III, two 5mm nodules appeared. They are indeterminate.
In Segment V, a 3mm nodule has appeared. It showed typical cancer features.

Why do I continue to journal my nearly 20 years of experience in managing the many recurrences of my liver cancer? When I initially sent the first portion of my article to my family members, relatives and friends, one of my grandsons wrote to me saying, “Thank you for sharing your insights and updating us on your progress. I appreciate your lessons and I’ll try recalling this advice when next I face life’s tribulations or if someone should come to me for counsel” and a close friend said “It helps my brother”. I was thus encouraged to journal my latest liver cancer recurrence.
It is a personal experience; an individual view. My approach is that of a Christian. I try to be honest with my emotions, self-queries about doubts and the depth of my faith. What I have written are my thoughts and experiences. I link them to articles by various writers so as to give clarity to my view. I am being comforted and supported by God’s grace in my suffering and I wish to share my experiences to comfort others wherever possible.
All human beings suffer. All of us have our fair share of pain, hurt, suffering, adversity, trial and tribulation. No one is exempted. How one responds to suffering makes all the difference. All of us have to tap on whatever that will help us face our suffering—be it our religions, TM, qigong, taiji, spiritual belief, chanting, yoga, music, prayer, etc.


When suffering pushes me into a corner, there are always choices to make and it is for me to choose. I can boldly choose to depend on myself or I can courageously choose to depend on God. I find that if I choose to believe in God’s Mercy and Grace then I am able to re-align my attitude to really see the blessings that He has given me thus far. Before that, being human, my mind and conversations dwelt constantly on the pain and suffering.
I opted to choose, with God’s help, the following attitude:

  • To be positive rather than negative.
  • To believe in a loving God rather than on my own effort to see me through my suffering.
  • To always ask what is there to learn from the experience rather than to continuously ask why, as “why” can give no satisfactory answer.
  • To have the courage to face the pain rather than to dwell on the hurt and self-pity.
  • To ask for God’s help to bear the suffering rather than depend on my own strength.
  • To have the patience to continuously endure the consequences rather than give up.
  • To have the meekness and humility to accept anything God gives me and willingly give Him anything He asks of me, with a smile!
  • To rest in the Lord instead of tossing restlessly in bed, at night.
  • To request and be given the support of prayers from family, relatives and friends instead of suffering in silence.
  • To have the conviction that God is fully in-charge of my life if I go to Him, and not depend entirely on myself.
  • To give myself the permission to sometimes be in doubt but never to be in despair.
    To remind myself that it is OK to be perplexed or knocked down several times but not to be crushed or knocked out (KO) by the suffering.
  • To focus on the hope that there will be recovery instead of giving in to unnecessary fear.


My Recent Liver Cancer Journey
On 25 May 2017, the yearly ultrasound indicated there was a large mass at segment VIII of my liver measuring 6.3 x
5.1 cm and a small mass at segment V measuring 0.9 cm.

On 9 June 2017, the MRI confirmed that the masses were suggestive that Liver Cancer had re-occurred. As the cancer cell was too large for dissection, it was decided to use radioactive substance yttrium-90 (Y-90) to shrink the cancer cell.

On 14 June 2017, an angiogram or mapping was prepared for the Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) for my liver. During the mapping procedure, the interventional radiologists will block (embolise) the vessels to minimize the potential for the microspheres to travel outside the liver to the guts and lungs. This was successfully done.

On 21 June 2017, hepatic angiography and injection of Y-90 for segment VIII HCC was carried out. Attempts made to cannulate the artery supplying the segment V HCC were in vain, hence the decision was made to cutaneously inject alcohol in the segment V lesion. This time round because of the advances in medical treatment, and the embolizing that was done to prevent the Y-90 from spreading to the guts and lung, I did not suffer from much after-effects. The previous time when Y-90 was introduced to my liver in April 2000, I had to be hospitalized for 42 days. It was a horrible and terrible experience then!


On 21 July 2017, MRI indicated that segment VIII, measuring 6.3 x 5.1 cm had decreased in size but the segment V HCC had increased in size from 0.9 to 1.5 cm. It was then decided to either introduce chemotherapy or RFA to segment V HCC. Since I had two previous experiences with RFA, my preference was to carry out the RFA on segment V HCC.

On 22 August 2017, RFA was carried out on segment V HCC. It was successfully done and no residual tumor was detected. As for segment VIII, the 6.3 x 5.1 cm has now reduced to 5.0 x 4.1 cm. MRI was scheduled in two months’ time to assess the tumor size before deciding what to do next.

I pray and hope that all will be well for me.

Written on 3 Sept 2017

God’s Grace
On 20 October 2017, I did my MRI. I have done many MRIs before and they were a breeze. But this time I was exhausted and tired. I felt overwhelmed by the circumstances of my fifth liver cancer recurrence. I do not know what would be the result of my MRI. Would the result be such that I may have to go for another operation or Y-90 or RFA or what else? I will only know the result when I see the RFA doctor on 26/10/17 and the liver doctor on 27/10/17. I was so exhausted that I slept when I came back from the hospital.


In the night I felt the need to lift my spirit. I searched what I had downloaded for myself from the internet and my mood was lifted when I listened to:

Grace Is Greater Than Circumstances
Grace Is Greater Than Hurts

I find Kyle Idleman’s sermons on St Paul in 1 Thess 5:18 NIV very illuminating. It states to, “. . . give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
But, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 is a very difficult verse to reconcile when I am going through the suffering of cancer.
How can Paul be thankful and joyful after all the trials he went through? What caused Paul to have such a spirit of gratitude? What made Paul give this advice was the grace of God in his life. He knew that God’s grace for his life far outweighed the trials in his life.
Paul certainly did not give thanks when he was whipped 5 times by the Jews and 3 times by the Romans. Neither did he give thanks when he was shipwrecked 3 times and in the water. To give thanks during such circumstances would be masochistic, wouldn’t it?
What Paul gave thanks for was the grace of God that provided him with:

  • the strength to face his circumstances
  • the courage to continue to move forward in his life and ministry
  • the humility to accept what God has allowed in his situation
  • the hope that all will be well, and that Christ is with him all the way.


I need to reflect: Have I experienced the grace of God in my life? For God’s grace will give me the strength to face what I am going through with my cancer experience. It will also sustain me for the long haul and the hope of not giving in to despair. Have I received the grace of God and more importantly have I given grace to people who hurt me? Can I feel the grace of Christ in my life? If I don’t, I will have difficulty being thankful or seeing any good in my current circumstances. Isn’t this just logical? Isn’t this just human?
What is God’s will for me currently? Will it be a tough choice? I will always have to choose my response!

Written on 21 October 2017

Our Perplexing Trials
Lately, I have been praying to the Lord to let me have a good night’s rest and the result has been positive with good sleep. At around 5 – 6 am I wake up to spend some quiet time thinking about Christ and my situation. I do not plan ahead what to write. In the silence of my quiet time a thought or an idea will come to prompt me to write on certain topic. I then go to my website to read up on that topic. I also go to the Internet to research a little more before I put it into writing.
I am not a robot without emotion! Since I am not a robot, I cannot help being anxious in trying to find some solutions. As a human being I am weak and frail. Yes, I call out to the Lord again and again for strength to see me through my storm (my liver cancer). As a Christian, I know that when I ask, genuinely ask, Christ will make Himself known to me—through a thought, a phrase, the prayers and support from family, relatives and friends etc. I have only one option and that is Christ!


J R Miller in Shall we Pray for the Healing of Disease7 has answered my question about prayer:
“Do not let me give the impression that God never answers prayer for healing. I think he does. I think that all healing is wrought by Christ. We must always send for the physician and use all the means within our reach, for this is ordinarily God’s way of helping us. But we fail if when using the means we do not also pray to God. The best means are of no avail, unless God uses them and blesses them. While, therefore, we have the physician and employ all available skill and use every means within our power to bring back restored health — we must take the case to God and leave it ever in his hands.”

I also find Our Storm as His path to Us by Max Lucado and Our Perplexing Trials by J I Parker comforting.
Yes, I look for total healing, which will be wonderful when attained. But what if the storm is a little longer or not at all?
Paul did not get his thorn (storm) removed at all. What are the lessons then, for me?
I find that some of the lessons are contained in J I Parker’s above article which states as follows:

“We should not, therefore, be too taken aback when unexpected and upsetting and discouraging things happen to us now. What do they mean? Why, simply that God in his wisdom means to make something of us which we have not attained yet, and is dealing with us accordingly.
“Perhaps he means to strengthen us in patience, good humour, compassion, humility, or meekness, by giving us some extra practice in
exercising these graces under specially difficult positions.


Perhaps he has new lessons in self- denial and self-distrust to teach us. Perhaps he wishes to break us of complacency, or unreality, or undetected forms of pride and conceit. Perhaps his purpose is simply to draw us closer to himself in conscious communion with him for it is often the case, as all the saints know, that fellowship with the Father and the Son is most vivid and sweet, and Christian joy is greatest, when the cross is heaviest. (Remember Samuel Rutherford!) Or perhaps God is preparing us for forms of service of which at present we have no inkling.
“Paul saw part of the reason for his own afflictions in the fact that God ‘comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God’ (2 Corinthians 1:4) Even the Lord Jesus ‘learned . . . obedience by the things which he suffered’, and so was ‘made perfect’ for his high-priestly ministry of sympathy and help to his hard-pressed disciples (Hebrew 5:8f, KJV): which means that, as on the one hand he is able to uphold us and make us more than conquerors in all our troubles and distresses, so on the other hand we must not be surprised if he calls us to follow in his steps, and to let ourselves be prepared for the service of others by painful experiences which are quite undeserved. ‘He knows the way he taketh,’ even if for the moment we do not.
“We may be frankly bewildered at things’ that happen to us, but God knows exactly what he is doing, and what he is after, in his handling of our affairs.
Always, and in everything, he is wise; we shall see that


hereafter, even where we never saw it here. (Job in heaven knows the full reason why he was afflicted, though he never knew it in his life.) Meanwhile, we ought not to hesitate to trust his wisdom, even when he leaves us in the dark.
“But how are we to meet these baffling and trying situations if we cannot for the moment see God’s purpose in them? First, by taking them as from God, and asking ourselves what reactions to them, and in them, the gospel of God requires of us; second, by seeking God’s face specifically about them.

“If we do these two things, we shall never find ourselves wholly in the dark as to God’s purpose in our troubles. We shall always be able to see at least as much purpose in them as Paul was enabled to see in his thorn in the flesh (whatever it was). It came to him, he tells us, as a ‘messenger of Satan’, tempting him to hard thoughts of God. He resisted this temptation, and sought Christ’s face three times, asking that it might be removed. The only answer he had was this, ‘My grace is sufficient for you: for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ On reflection, he perceived a reason why he should have been thus afflicted: it was to keep him humble, ‘To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surprisingly great revelations’. This thought, and Christ’s word, were enough for him. He looked no further. Here is his final attitude ‘Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me’ (2 Corinthians 12:79).
“This attitude of Paul is a model for us.

Whatever further purpose a Christian’s troubles may or may not have in equipping him for future service, they will always have at least that


purpose which Paul’s thorn in the flesh had: they will have been sent us to make and keep us humble, and to give us a new opportunity of showing forth the power of Christ in our mortal lives. And do we ever need to know any more about them than that? Is not this enough of itself to convince us of the wisdom of God in them?
Once Paul saw that his trouble was sent to enable him to glorify Christ, he accepted it as wisely appointed, and rejoiced in it. God give us grace, in all our own troubles, to go and do likewise.”

Can I be confident enough to trust that God is in charge of my life and that God uses my storm as His path for me to get closer to Him? Have I been frightened enough to depend and need Him and then come close enough for me to fully trust Him?

Written on 25 October 2017

Choosing His Blessing
On 26 & 27 October 2017, I saw my RFA and Liver doctors for my MRI results. The results were mixed—good and bad!
The bad news was that I had another liver cancer recurrence at segment IV at 1.1 cm (6th occurrence). This has been scheduled for RFA in November 2017.
The good news was that my segment VIII was stable. The original liver cancer size of 6.3 x 5.1 cm on 21 June 2017 was reduced to 5.0 x 4.1 cm on 22 Aug 2017 and is now (20 October 2017) stable at 5.2 x 3.8 cm. Since the cancer is stable, the doctors said they will monitor it before they decide


on the next course of action. On my inquiry, the doctors advised that they can repeat the Y-90 on the liver for 4 – 5 times and the RFA as many times as my liver function tests allow. To me this is good news as I am reluctant to have another liver surgery. At least I know what will be the next course of action. It appears that I have to prepare myself to enter a long agonizing and uncertain journey.

I find comfort in what J R Miller in Songs in the Night of Pain by J R Miller said:
“You say, “Yes, he (God) knows — but he does not change things, does not relieve me of my sufferings.” Well, my child, this is precisely where your faith comes in. You know that he could change all this — if he knew that it were best for you. The fact that he does not relieve you of your suffering — shows that there is some mission which he wants that suffering to work in you, some lesson he would have you learn while enduring it, some new power of usefulness and service which he would have you attain through these long experiences of trial.”
“ I know it is hard to suffer day after day — but your Father knows and still permits it to continue, because he would make you a sweeter woman, a more noble witness for him, because he would prepare you for larger service and helpfulness, and because he is fitting you for the higher life that lies beyond. Do not be afraid. Keep on singing your songs of joy, whatever your experience of pain may be.”


Under such trying circumstances, I have to watch myself very carefully so that I do not unconsciously place myself under a curse but to always “choose the blessing.”

I will succeed in choosing the blessing only if I:

  1. Believe that I am the beloved child of God
  2. Trust that I am unconditionally loved by God
  3. Have the faith that God will turn my suffering round for good as “in all things God works for good with those who love Him”(Romans 8:28 TEV) and
  4. Constantly apply the practical aspects in the meaning of Blessings and Curses8 in my website.

We bless ourselves:
• When we give thanks with a grateful heart.
• When we bless our family and others
• When we listen to the quiet, inner voice that says good things about ourselves.
• When we affirm ourselves and know that we have given the best of ourselves in whatever we have worked on.
• When we shut out the loud, busy outer voice that says we are being punished.

We bless others:
• When we speak good things about them and to them.
• When we show by our gestures that their presence is a joy to us.
• When we reveal to them their gifts, their goodness and their talents.


Blessing is nothing more than recounting positively the events about:
• What God has helped us to endure or overcome,
• What patience our family and friends have shown us,
• What we have learnt out of the events, and
• Giving hope, courage and love.

When we put our experiences under the blessing, we consciously bless ourselves.

Written on 28 October 2017

Being Troubled
On 7 November 2017, I saw the anesthetist for pre- admission testing in order to see whether it was alright for me to do the RFA, which is scheduled on 21 November 2017. It took 2-3 hours in all. Since May 2017, I have been seeing one doctor after another every two to three weeks and it always takes 2-3 hours each time. It is beginning to get to me.
Lately, like David:
I am downcast I am fed up
I am discouraged I am troubled
I am sad
I am disturbed
I am desperate
I am restless.

I needed to uplift my spirit and what I did for myself was to re-read all the adversity and suffering articles that I have uploaded on my website and I find How David deals with Depression? by Joyce Meyer and Living Life by Grace9 by Pablo Martinez to be helpful.


According to Pablo Martinez, from God’s perspective, “what is most important is not the absence of suffering (which is what I want) but rather his presence in the midst of (my) suffering and the resources his presence affords us.”
I take that to mean that I am to concentrate on Christ and to seek God’s presence and when I seek, I will find—His presence. But, I cannot see God; I cannot feel God; I cannot touch God. So how can I know His presence? I can know Him when I believe what Christ says about His love and care for me, about His presence with me, and His desire to help me. My faith will thus make Him a reality to me.

I am also to look for the resource, which is His Grace that He will shower on me.
What is His Grace? Not only does God give me His saving grace but also His living grace—living my life in His grace. When I am in Christ, the resources are that He strengthens me; He comforts me; He cares for me; He supports me. Thus:

I can triumph over my suffering
I can be stronger than my suffering
I can have the patience to soldier on with my suffering
I can have the courage to face my suffering
I can have trust that He is in charge in the midst of my suffering
I can be transformed by my suffering
I can still give thanks in the midst of my suffering
I can maintain an attitude of gratitude in the midst of my pain
I can have peace of mind in the midst of my suffering
I can hope that I will be alright.

Written on 7 November 2017


Suffering and Anguish
Suffering is a paschal mystery. There are many fake or false ideas on why a person continues to suffer—like it is a punishment from God, that he must have sinned (but there is no sinless one, except Jesus), that he deserves what he gets, that he has not done enough good works or that he has not volunteered, etc. Of course, some sufferings are the results of bad or immoral decisions.
I find it very illuminating to read The Fog of the Broken Hearted by Max Lucado where he quoted the Bible on the emotional condition that Christ was experiencing in the garden of Gethsemane:

“When they reached a place called Gethsemane, . . . Horror and dismay came over him, and he said to them, “My heart is ready to break with grief; . . threw himself on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, this hour might pass him by. “Abba, Father,” he said, “all things are possible to thee; take this cup away from me. Yet not what I will, but what thou wilt.” (Mark 14:33-34)

I find again in Mark 14:33-34 (NIV) which states, “he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,”
And in Matthew 26:37-38, 44 (NIV) which states, “ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.”

Also in Luke 22:42-44 (NIV) which states, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

Jesus Christ, whom I and Christians believe is fully divine and fully human, is a man without sin. Yet, He suffered such horrible anguish as described in the Bible as stated in the passages above:
My heart is ready to break with grief
threw himself on the ground,
deeply distressed and troubled sorrowful
overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death
in anguish he prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground
An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him

Jesus asked Peter, James and John to watch and pray with Him three times, but they could not stay awake to keep Him company. It shows that Jesus wanted the consolation of His closest disciples in asking them to go through His suffering with Him. We will be wise to do likewise in our intense suffering.


Thus, it is alright to want closest individuals to listen to my suffering. I must honour my suffering. I must not dismiss my anguish. I must accept my sorrow. I must not make light of my suffering during this trying period. I must permit myself to utter my pain. I must not berate myself for voicing my painful feeling and sadness. It is there. I must affirm it.
I must also pray to God. I must encourage and uplift myself by all means and hope an angel (family, friends, relatives, words, phrases, etc) will appear to strengthen me!

I find Suffering, Why Me?10 by Philip Yancey very interesting. He says that the most comprehensive book in the Bible, which centers on the problem of suffering for about 35 chapters, is Job. Yet, God side-steps the very questions of suffering that plague the human race.
To me, without suffering we are all mini-gods and we don’t need God at all! If we never suffered, we would be absolutely insufferable because we would be atrociously arrogant. But suffering can turn us to God and can be a means for us to be transformed and to develop courage, patience, fortitude, generosity, kindness, the agape aspect of love, prudence, unselfishness, character and all other moral attributes.

Written on 13 November 2017

“Please forgive me” and “I forgive you”
On 16 November 2017, I had a slight cough and a light fever of 37.2 degrees. As a precaution, I saw the GP on 17 November for my cough in order not to postpone the RFA, which could be delayed if the cough got worse. This was precisely what I did on June 2017. The last time the GP gave me Fedac cough mixture. This time the GP did not have Fedac


and the GP gave me Dexromethorphan 30mg tablets to be taken twice a day. After two days of taking the Dexromethorphan, on 19/11/17 (Sunday) at 3 am, I was coughing quite badly and I prayed to Christ to help me. I was then able to sleep until 7.30 am. In the morning I decided to switch to Dhasedyl Syrup, which is what is usually prescribed to me whenever I have a cough and cold. My body is familiar with Dhasedyl and it soothes my throat. But on 20/11/17 at 5-6 am I was again coughing so badly I decided to go to see my former GP, who had moved to another location, for a further check-up. The GP gave me Fedac cough mixture and Thymol gargle for the sore throat. What this showed me, as I normally do not like to see the doctor, was that I must have been anxious that the RFA might be postponed due to my cough. If the RFA was postponed, the liver cancer might roughly double itself every two months.
I was told to go to the hospital on 21 November 2017 at 7.30 am. I prayed that my procedure would be alright and hoped for a full recovery on segment 4 of my liver cancer (My sixth liver cancer occurrence). My primary concern was on segment 8, which could be a long process.
All of us have emotional scars. We have fractured relationships. We are badly hurt. We murmur. We gripe. We moan. We blame. We complain endlessly. We refuse to take charge of ourselves regarding our unfortunate circumstance. We are locked in by our self-pity. We imprison ourselves with our hurt and suffering. So, I find reading Redeemed by our Suffering or Imprisoned by our Suffering by Ken Gire and M.J. Ryan helpful.

I discover that I have a choice to free myself from my own prison! I can free my mind and my heart if I can, first and foremost, truly says “I am sorry, please forgive me.” This is not easy. Peter thought that if he was able to forgive seven times, he would become a saint. But Jesus told him not seven times but “seventy times seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22 TEV). No one can do that in his own effort. But if we go to Jesus and ask for His help, we will be able to do it.

Many of us are emotionally sick. We need strong and bitter emotional medicines for a cure. Dr Ira Byock, a doctor caring for seriously ill patients for nearly 15 years of emergency medicine practice and more than 25 years in hospice and palliative care, has taught hundreds of patients who were facing life’s end to say the Four Things.
In Healing Words11 he suggested that we can heal our broken relationships if we can honestly and constantly say the Four Things below:

Please forgive me.
I forgive you.
Thank you.
I love you.

But, it takes great humility and generosity of spirit to utter these four obvious sentences. They make us very vulnerable and many proud individuals find it very difficult to say them and thus lock themselves in their own emotional prison. Being imprisoned does not promote growth. And without growth we cannot grow to our full potential. To grow and live more abundantly, we need God’s help to free our minds and hearts from our emotional prisons.

See how Mother Teresa in her book, A Gift for God12 puts it:
“We know that if we really want to love we must learn how to forgive” (18),
“We must make our homes centers of compassion and forgive endlessly” (18)


“Lord, help us to see in Your crucifixion and resurrection an example of how to endure and seemingly to die in the agony and conflict of daily life, so that we may live more fully and creatively. You accepted patiently and humbly the rebuffs of human life, as well as the tortures of your crucifixion and passion. Help us to accept the pains and conflicts that come to us each day as opportunities to grow as people and become more like you. Enable us to go through them patiently and bravely, trusting that you will support us. Make us realize that it is only by frequent deaths of ourselves and our self- centered desires that we can come to live more fully; for it is only by dying with You that we can rise with You.” (89-90)

Written on 20 November 2017

“Thank you” or Gratitude
On 21 November 2017, I told the anesthetist that I had been coughing for the last four days. He asked whether I have flam and I said no. He asked how my experience was the last time I did my RFA and I told him that it was painful. He mentioned that he could put me into a full slumber and I would not feel a thing, but it would mean that he would have to put a tube down my throat in case of any difficulty in breathing. I then said I prefer to be conscious and help in the process. He said if I felt pain I should make it known, so that he could increase the pain medicine to decrease the pain. The RFA went very well. It took about an hour. I had very little pain during and after the RFA.
I am glad that I prayed and was prompted to see the GP one after the other for my cough. Why? If I did not see the second GP for my Fedac cough mixture, I think, I would not be


able to do the RFA. I took the Fedac cough mixture and I did not cough during the whole RFA procedure. But after the RFA during the night I was coughing non-stop as I did not have any Fedac cough mixture with me. I had no choice but to ask the nurse to get the ward doctor to prescribe Fedac cough mixture for me. Unfortunately, the prescribed medicine the ward doctor gave was Fedac syrup for nasal and respiratory congestion and that did not help to stop my cough. My cough does not matter to me now. I am grateful that the RFA was done as scheduled. Thank you, Lord.
I will know the result of the RFA when I see the Interventional Radiologist on 30/11/17.

The third sentence by Dr Ira Byock is “Thank you” or Gratitude, which I would like to examine more.

In the Definitions of Gratitude by Henri J M Nouwen, he stated,
To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives—the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections—that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our being as a gift of God to be grateful for.
Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God. (Bread for the Journey, Jan 12,)


Gratitude as a discipline
In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realise that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.
Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to be grateful when I am criticised, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly. I can choose to listen to the voices that forgive and to look at the faces that smile, even while I still hear words of revenge and see grimaces of hatred.
There is always the choice between resentment and gratitude because God has appeared in my darkness, urged me to come home, and declared in a voice filled with affection: “You are with Me always, and all I have is yours.” Indeed, I can choose to dwell in the darkness in which I stand, point to those who are seemingly better off than I, lament about the many misfortunes that have plagued me in the past, and thereby wrap myself up in my resentment. But I don’t have to do this. There is the option to look into the eyes of the One who came out to search for me and see therein that all I am and all I have is pure gift calling for gratitude.

The choice for gratitude rarely comes without some real effort. But each time I make it, the next choice is a little easier, a little freer, a little less self-conscious. Because every gift I acknowledge reveals another and another until finally, even the most normal, obvious, and seemingly mundane event or encounter proves to be filled with grace. There is an Estonian proverb that says: “Who does not thank for little will not thank for much.” Acts of gratitude make one grateful because, step by step, they reveal that all is grace. (The return of the Prodigal Son, 85)

All is Grace
“We are really grateful for all the good things . . . . We simply have to accept or try to forget the painful moments.” The attitude expressed in these words made me aware of how often we tend to divide our past into good things to remember with gratitude and painful things to accept or forget. Once we accept this division, however, we quickly develop a mentality in which we hope to collect more good memories than bad memories, more things to be grateful for than things to complain about. But this way of thinking, which at first glance seems quite natural, prevents us from truly allowing our whole past to be the source from which we live our future. Is this the gratitude to which the Gospel calls us?

Gratitude is not a simple emotion or an obvious attitude. It is a difficult discipline to constantly reclaim my whole past as the concrete way in which God has led me to this moment and is sending me into the future. It is hard precisely because it challenges me to face the painful moments—experiences of rejection and abandonment, feelings of loss and failure— and gradually to discover in them the pruning hands of God purifying my heart for deeper love, stronger hope, and broader faith. Jesus says to His disciples that although they are as intimately related to Him as branches are to the vine, they still need to be pruned in order to bear more fruit (John 15:1-5). Pruning means cutting, reshaping, removing what diminishes vitality. . .
Grateful people are those who can celebrate even the pains of life because they trust that when harvest time comes the fruit will show that the pruning was not punishment but purification. I am gradually learning that the call to gratitude asks us to say “everything is grace.” When our gratitude for the past is only partial, our hope for a new future can never be full. . .If we are to be truly ready for a new task in the service of God, truly to be sent into a new mission, our entire past, gathered into the spaciousness of a converted heart, must become the source of energy that moves us toward the future.
(“All is Grace” 39-41)


Jesus always Gave Thanks.
A second aspect of the fruitful life is gratitude. Our preoccupation with success extinguishes the spirit of gratitude. When our hearts and minds are bent on proving our value to others and competing with our rivals, it is hard to give thanks. In a society that presents independence and self-reliance as ideals, gratitude is more a sign of weakness than of strength. Gratitude presupposes a willingness to recognise our dependence on others and to receive their help and support.
Yet as soon as we shift our attention from products to fruit we become grateful people.
Jesus always gave thanks.
When He stood before the opened grave of Lazarus, He thanked His Father for hearing His prayer (John 11:4). When He gathered His disciples for the last Supper, He spoke words of thanks over bread and wine. Gratitude belongs to the core of the life of Jesus and His followers
. (In the House of the Lord, 42)

A Grateful Death
When we think about death, we often think about what will happen to us after we have died. But it is more important to think about what will happen to those we leave behind. The way we die has a deep and lasting effect on those who stay alive. It will be easier for our family and friends to remember us with joy and peace if we have said a grateful good-bye than if we die with bitter and disillusioned hearts.
The greatest gift we can offer our families and friends is the gift of gratitude. Gratitude sets them free to continue living without bitterness or self-recrimination
(Bread for the Journey, Aug 28)

Written on 23 November 2017


“I love you”
Since I like Dr Ira Byock’s Four Things regarding healing our broken relationships, I wish to examine the last sentence, “I love you” a little more.

J R Miller in Comfort Through Personal Helpfulness13 said,
“No one can be a blessing to others—if he does not love. Nothing but love will make another person happier, will comfort sorrow, will relieve loneliness, will give encouragement.”

Henri J M Nouwen in God’s Love is Unconditional said,
“God does not say, ‘I love you, if. . . ‘ There are no ifs in God’s heart. God’s love for us does not depend on what we do or say, on our looks or intelligence, on our success or popularity. God’s love for us existed before we were born and will exist after we have died. God’s love is from eternity to eternity and is not bound to any time-related event or circumstance. Does that mean that God does not care what we do or say? No, because God’s love wouldn’t be real if God didn’t care. To love without condition does not mean to love without concern. God desires to enter into relationship with us and wants us to love God in return.”

Mother Teresa in Mother Teresa on Love and Jesus Christ said,
“Jesus came into this world for one purpose. He came to give us the good news that God loves us, that God is love, that He loves you, and He loves me. How did Jesus love you and me? By giving His life.”

“The whole gospel is very, very simple. Do you love me? Obey my commandments. He’s turning and twisting just to get around to one thing: love one another.”
“I don’t think we could have ever loved God if Jesus had not become one of us. So that we might be able to love God, He became one of us in all things, except sin. If we have been created in the image of God, then we have been created to love, because God is love. In his passion Jesus taught us how to forgive out of love, how to forget out of humility. Find Jesus, and you will find peace.”
“We have a great deal of worth in the eyes of God. I never tire of saying over and over again that God loves us. It is a wonderful thing that God Himself loves me tenderly. That is why we should have courage, joy, and the conviction that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.”

Lee Strobel in Gaining when Giving of Ourselves said,
“Ultimately, God is a servant because God is love, and love by its very nature involves the giving of oneself. . . .
“For the first time, my eyes were opened to the vast, informal network of Christians who were sacrificially serving the poor. I came upon food pantries, homeless shelters, clothing centers, job-training institutes, nursing homes, drug rehabilitation programs, sports ministries for kids all operated by Christian charities. . . .


“Lots of times, serving others is physically taxing, emotionally draining, financially expensive, or downright dangerous. Yet amazingly, those are the very times when God seems to delight in bringing an extra dose of grace into the lives of towel bearers.”

I find that the best book of 70 pages on the subject of love is Love People by Rev Albert Shamon14

Written on 25 November 2017

Trust in God = Trust in Christ
On 30 November 2017, I saw the Interventional Radiologist. He advised that Segment IV was successfully done and no residual tumor was detected. Hurray!!! Thank you, Lord. Thank you, doctors and nurses.
As for Segment VIII, the original liver cancer size, under MRI measurement of 6.3 x 5.1 cm on 21 June 2017 was reduced to 5.0 x 4.1 cm on 22 Aug 2017 and on 20 October 2017 was stable at 5.2 x 3.8 cm and is now (21/11/17) further reduced.
The Interventional Radiologist proposed early January 2018 for the MRI but the earliest slot available is on 26 February 2018 at 7.45pm. This shows the hospital is over stretched.
On 14/12/2017 I had written due to written confirmation these notes:
[The report on 6/12/2017 of the 21/11/17 RFA shows that under CT Scan, Segment 8 now measures 4.4 x 2.8 x 3.2 cm (4.7 x 3.2 x 4.2 cm previously). Subsequently, on 14/12/2017, the Interventional Radiologist moved the MRI appointment to 15 January 2018.]


What have I learnt from my current suffering? What is the fruit of my suffering? To me, the fruit of my suffering has to be first and foremost: Trust in God.
But before I can trust in God I must have faith that God exists.
In the Old Testament, the concept of God is sometimes distorted by human experience. The OT gives an image of a fearsome and vengeful God. This type of God makes it very difficult for me to accept Him. But in the New Testament, Jesus Christ shows me that “God is love, and those who live in love live in union with God and God lives in union with them”(1 John 4:16 TEV). Again, it says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love”(1 John 4:8 TEV). “Whoever loves is a child of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7 TEV). The Bible that states that “God is Love” appeals to me and I can worship such a God.
But I cannot see, feel or touch God, so how can I have faith that God exists? Amongst the religious leaders, such as Krishna, Buddha, Muhammad and Jesus Christ, Christ is the only one that I know of who claims, “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30 TEV) “Whoever sees Me sees also Him who sent Me.”(John 12:45 TEV) St Paul says, “Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15 TEV). When Christ was questioned, “Where is your father?” Christ answered, “You know neither Me nor my Father. If you knew Me, you would know my Father also.” (John 8:19 TEV).
How valid are Jesus’ claims? I agree with C S Lewis, who, after having examined the claims by Jesus in the Bible, declares that: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral teacher, he’d either be a lunatic-–on a level with a man who says he’s a poached egg—or else he’d be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. . . .


But don’t let us come up with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He hasn’t left that open to us. He didn’t intend to We are faced then with a frightening alternative. The man we are talking about was (and is,) just what he said or else a lunatic or something worse. Now it seems to me obvious that he was neither a lunatic nor a fiend; and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that he was and is God.” (Mere Christianity, 52-53)

In the Bible those who acknowledge that Christ is God are:

  1. God calls Christ, “But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom.” (Hebrew 1:8 NKJV)
  2. Isaiah states, “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 NKJV)
  3. John says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-3 and 1:14 NKJV)
  4. Paul says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14 NKJV)


  1. Peter says, “Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:” (2 Peter 1:1 NKJV)
  2. Thomas acknowledges, “Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:27-28 NKJV)

Thus, the equivalent for me to trust in God is trust in Christ. Since I believe what Christ says about His love and care for me, about His presence with me, and His desire to help me, my faith will make Him a reality to me. Christ is a historical figure that I can virtually “see, feel or touch” like any historical person. My trust in Christ will come about when I can fully accept the truth that Christ lives within my heart.
On reflection, for me, the more pertinent questions are: Has Christ touched me? Have I felt that Christ has answered my prayers? Have I seen the endless patience or unconditional love of Christ for me?

Henri Nouwen asked, “Have you ever noticed the joy of a mother when she sees her baby smile? The baby’s smile is a gift to the mother who is grateful to see her baby so happy!” (Life of the Beloved, 84) And God has asserted, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15, NIV) Thus, God’s love for me is far, far greater than a mother’s love for her baby. The Bible stated that “God is Love” (1 John 4:16, NIV) and His love is without condition. His love does not depend on what I do or don’t do. Similarly, can I then ask, “Is Christ happy when I go to Him?”

Christ has assured me, “I will never turn away anyone who comes to me.” (John 6:37 TEV) and “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrew 13:5, NIV) “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20, NIV) Do I believe that Christ “will keep His promise and do what is right”? (1 John 1:9, TEV) Christ in the Parable of the Lost Sheep has asserted that, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7, NIV) So, Heaven rejoices when I go to Christ in prayer.
J R Miller stated that “The whole Bible teaches without any question, that everyone who comes to Christ — is welcomed by him, is received with open arms and tender love” (To One who is Depressed). Thus, all of us must not be disturbed or troubled or deny ourselves the privilege of praying to Him in whatever way that we do. I can confidently go to Christ.
So, I can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man (or suffering) shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:6, NKJV). There is nothing for me to be afraid of and in my prayers, Christ’s presence is the source of comfort, support, strength and hope for me. I must not neglect carrying out my part—that God, “who comforts and encourages us in every trouble so that we will be able to comfort and encourage those who are in any kind of trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4, AMP)

Written on 30 November 2017


Coping With Grief
Grief is a natural response to any great loss by the individual. Grief is the human reaction to the pain of loss. Grief is an inescapable reaction to our loss. Grief is a natural part of our human experience. Grief is the inward desolation that follows the loss of something or someone we loved. We face grief at one time or another.

Any significant loss can cause grief, such as:

  1. Death of a loved one
  2. A miscarriage
  3. A divorce
  4. Couple relationship breakup
  5. Retrenchment
  6. Forced to change job
  7. Loss of health
  8. A loved one’s serious illness
  9. Loss of financial stability
  10. Retirement
  11. Loss of a close friendship
  12. Loss of a cherished dream
  13. Selling a home
  14. Failure in examinations
  15. Moving to a new school or new house
  16. Posted overseas
  17. Being a refugee
  18. Migrating to new country
  19. Feeling of insecurity after a trauma
  20. Death of a pet


The grieving process is a roller coaster ride, full of ups and downs, highs and lows. The emotions that grief triggers can be positive or negative. I find that the range of emotions can best be described by the acronym:-

S A R A H Begs Delay!

S — Surprise, Shock, Stress, Suppression, Stubbornness, Stiff-necked, Spiritual unease.
A — Annoyance, Anxiety, Anger, Afraid, Agony, Abandoned, Apathy, Afflicted, Alienated.
R — Reprimand, Refusal, Restraint, Resistance, Resign, Revenge, Resentment, Rejection, Resetting the mind control button.
AAcceptance, Awakening, Acknowledgement, Admit.
HHope in God, Hope in His grace and mercy to see us through, Hope in family and friends for loving support and listening ears, Hallelujah!

B — Beg, Bargain, Bitterness, Blame, Believe. Betrayal, Better, Blessing, Befriend.
D — Delay, Despair, Denial, Deafness, Depression, Distress, Defeated, Discomfort, Doubt, Desolate, Dejected, Disoriented, Deadlock, Disappointed, Directional change needed, Dying could be a constant companion.

I do not have to go through these stages of grief. I won’t experience them in a neat, sequential manner in order to heal. In fact, some people resolve their grief without going through any of these stages. The ideal response is to go quickly from shock to acceptance and hopefully be calm and at peace with the loss. But while there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that, in time, can ease my sadness and help me come to terms with my loss. I can then find new meaning and move on with my life.


I did not know that I was grieving; neither did my family members, until I found the article Coping with Grief and Loss15 in the Internet a few days ago. It is the best presentation on grieving. Why do I say that I am grieving? I was experiencing my loss of health. It did not help that I was very anxious and emotional with all the liver cancer procedures that I had to go through. I did not realize then that any major loss can cause grief—I was losing my “normal” health and the “new normal” health was that I was losing my health to my liver cancer illness in the past 6 months and it was continuing for some time more. This loss had triggered a sense of grief in me.
I did not realize that a big part of the healing process of grieving was an automatic seeking out of face-to-face support from my family members and close friends who care and are close to me. They did not know how to handle grief as they were not aware of it. I found that they were unconsciously diverting from the subject whenever I wanted to talk about my suffering to them. I was angry with them when I felt that they did not give me the time to listen to my suffering. They did not know that I was grieving, neither did I. All I wanted was for them to be present. I wanted comfort and consolation from them. I know that they cannot do much, but I needed them to listen to my pain. This is so vital that all of us, whenever we are in the presence of grief, to understand and acknowledge and give—just listen!! This is reinforced by Want to Help, Shut up and Listen from YouTube.
I find Grief Comes in Many Forms by Granger E. Westberg and Blessings of Bereavement by J. R. Miller and My Own Grief by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross very informative.

Written on 2 December 2017


Love and Service
As I reflect on my more than 19 years of liver cancer experience and management, what I did not see clearly before is becoming a bit more visible to me now. They are:

The fruit of no suffering is arrogance (behave as mini- gods)
The fruit of prolonged suffering is Trust in God (=Trust in Christ)
The fruit of Trust in God is love (I like to elaborate on this later)
The fruit of love is service (as Mother Teresa said)
The fruit of service is joy or happiness or peace (many people have found it to be so).

How does Trust in God lead me to love? For God is love and when I trust that Christ lives in my heart, I can lean on Christ to lead me into love. How? Before I truly love, I must learn to forgive!!! Forgiveness is the precondition to love. For love to develop, forgiveness must come before anything else. Without endless forgiveness in the family or between close friends, the relationship cannot grow. Without growth in the relationship, it cannot flourish into love. When there is no forgiveness, I find that small hurts, intentionally or unconsciously, can lead into resentment and bitterness!!! I find that where there is forgiveness, the hurt can be overlooked and that will eventually lead to love. But none can forgive endlessly. Only with the help of Christ can any one learn to forgive endlessly as there is no perfect family. Neither are we perfect ourselves.


Pope Francis on May 8, 2017 says:
“There is no perfect family. We do not have perfect parents, we are not perfect, we do not marry a perfect person or have perfect children. We have complaints from each other. We disappoint each other. So there is no healthy marriage or healthy family without the exercise of forgiveness. Forgiveness is vital to our emotional health and spiritual survival. Without forgiveness, the family becomes an arena of conflict and a stronghold of hurt.
Without forgiveness, the family becomes ill. Forgiveness is a sepsis of the soul, the cleansing of the mind and the liberation of the heart. Whoever does not forgive does not have peace in the soul nor communion with God. Hurt is poison that intoxicates and kills. Keeping heartache in the heart is a self- destructive gesture. It’s autophagy. Those who do not forgive are physically, emotionally and spiritually ill.
That is why the family must be a place of life, not of death; Territory of cure and not of illness; Stage of forgiveness and not guilt. Forgiveness brings joy where sorrow has produced sadness; Healing, where sorrow has caused disease.” forgiveness/

Therefore, I must say “I am sorry, please forgive me” and also “I forgive you”. But why should I say, “I forgive you” when I think I am not the one that caused the hurt in the relationship? Because when I say, “I forgive you” I free my mind and my heart from the hurt. Then, I don’t imprison myself in my past hurt. When I don’t forgive, I imprison myself. Christ says “He (God) has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners” (Luke 4:18, NIV).


For practical applications on love, read Pope Francis Post Synod Exhortation on Love in Marriage, Love is shown by Work in Marriage16 and Learning how to Love one another by St Therese of Lisieux17

The fruit of love is service. If love does not induce us to serve our fellow-men then it is not love. One of the saddest human sufferings is not to find a way to love and to be of service. All of us have a very deep desire to share and to give. It is innate in our nature to want to be of service to others. It is ingrained into our human culture to be of service to our tribe, community, military and group. This is normal in a group of not more than 150 people. Our forefathers would not be able to survive in the jungle if not for this service. See how Simon Sinek explains it in
Unfortunately, in our big, modern organizations—we live in a fast-paced competitive, volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous and disruptive (VUCAD) world of the 21st century— we develop an attitude of only looking after self—first, last and always. Why? Because the first thing that happens when the company does not meet the annual financial numbers, the CEO hands out pink slips so that the CEO does not get the sack! In such an environment each one learns to protect self first, which leads to following and obeying the rules blindly. Thus, the individual doesn’t really give good service to their fellow-men. This desire to be of service has been squashed or somehow suppressed in some brutal way by such an environment (VUCAD). There is thus a tremendous emptiness for a human being who doesn’t find a way to give or be of service!! A few find their fulfillment by volunteering their service to welfare organizations.


Since it is innate in us to be of service to our friends, we often try to speak to our friends who are doing something wrong. And by loving exhortation we sometimes may be able to help them out of their wrong ways— but very often such efforts do not much good. In Entering into the Lives of Others by J R Miller, he said, “I have been trying for a good while to teach my people, however, that all they can do for their friends, even their closest and dearest friends, is to keep them bound by prayer fast around the feet of God with chains of gold. Sometimes we can speak to our friends who are not doing quite right and by loving exhortation help them out of their danger — but very often such efforts only do harm and not good. I think even many mothers do a good deal too much talking to their children in the way of reproof or correction.” Therefore, I need to remind myself that prayer, whether privately or with him, is a good way to help any one in need.

I find the following articles useful: Comfort Through Personal Helpfulness by J R Miller, The Basis of Helpfulness by J R Miller and Service to Our Family and Others

Written on 8 December 2017

Joy, Happiness or Peace
The fruit of service is joy or happiness or peace. Thus, when we do good deeds, it is only natural to want to see the result of our service. But for Christians, Mother Teresa said, we will not be disappointed if the result is left to Jesus, “Don’t give in to discouragement. No more must you do so when you try to settle a marriage crisis or convert a sinner and don’t succeed. If you are discouraged, it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own powers. Never bother about people’s opinions. Be humble and you will never be disturbed. It is very difficult in practice because we all want to see the result of our work. Leave it to Jesus.” (Contemplative at the Heart of the World, 107)


Pope Francis on “Being Happy”:
You may have defects, be anxious and sometimes live irritated, but do not forget that your life is the greatest enterprise in the world. Only you can prevent it from going into decadence. There are many that need you, admire you and love you.
I would like to remind you that being happy is not having a sky without storms, or roads without accidents, or work without fatigue, or relationships without disappointments.
Being happy is finding strength in forgiveness, hope in one’s battles, security at the stage of fear, love in disagreements.

Being happy is not only to treasure the smile, but that you also reflect on the sadness.
It is not just commemorating the event, but also learning lessons in failures.
It is not just having joy with the applause, but also having joy in anonymity.
Being happy is to recognize that it is worthwhile to live, despite all the challenges, misunderstandings and times of crises.
Being happy is not inevitable fate, but a victory for those who can travel towards it with your own being.

Being happy is to stop being a victim of problems but become an actor in history itself.

It is not only to cross the deserts outside of ourselves, but still more, to be able to find an oasis in the recesses of our soul.
It is to thank God every morning for the miracle of life.

Being happy is not being afraid of one’s feelings. It is to know how to talk about ourselves. It is to bear with courage when hearing a “no”.
It is to have the security to receive criticism, even if it is unfair.
It is to kiss the children, pamper the parents, have poetic moments with friends, even if they have hurt us.
Being happy means allowing the free, happy and simple child inside each of us to live; having the maturity to say, “I was wrong”; having the audacity to say, “forgive me”.
It is to have sensitivity in expressing, “I need you”; to have the ability of saying, “I love you.”

So that your life becomes a garden full of opportunities for being happy…
In your spring-time, may you become a lover of joy. In your winter, may you become a friend of wisdom.
And when you go wrong along the way, you start all over again. Thus you will be more passionate about life.
And you will find that happiness is not about having a perfect life but about using tears to water tolerance, losses to refine patience, failures to carve serenity, pain to lapidate pleasure, obstacles to open the windows of intelligence.
Never give up …. Never give up on the people you love. Never give up from being happy because life is an incredible show.
And you are a special human being! message-about-being-happy/


One of the secret of joy is work, provided it is work with an element of serving— with kindness, care and thought for fellow-men. In The Joy of Service by J R Miller, it stated:

“Work is a condition of joy.

It is a blessing that most people, when sorrow comes, dare not pause to indulge their grief. Their duties are waiting for them, waiting so clamorously, that they cannot linger even for the tender sentiment of sorrow. There is scarcely time to wait for the funeral to be over, after a bereavement, before imperative tasks must receive attention. It is well that it is so. The necessary
activity keeps the heart from breaking, and preserves the life from the morbidity which so often sorrow
produces when the hands lie folded.

Work is therefore a secret of happiness. It saves the heart from being overcharged. The emotions which otherwise would lie pent up, to the hurt of the life, find vent and are wrought out in activities which bless others, while they produce health and wholesomeness in him who performs them. No worse mistake can be made by one in grief—than to drop life’s duties and tasks out of the hands, and cut one’s self off from the common duties and ministries of life. God’s comfort is not found in this way. Joy does not come to the one who nourishes his sorrow in idle brooding; it is found only in the earnest and faithful doing

of every duty. Work has saved many a life from despair in time of great grief.
But there is something higher and diviner yet, than even work alone. Work may be selfish. It may be solely for the advancement of one’s own interest, without any thought of another’s benefit or comfort. Even then there is blessing in it; for it fills the hands and occupies the thoughts—there is good in occupation itself. But if we add to work—the element of serving, with love and thought of others—we have one of the noblest of all the secrets of joy!

Serving comes from loving; it is love’s expression. Serving that is not inspired by love—yields no joy. Love that does not serve—is not love at all. The measure of self-denial that one is ready to suffer—is the measure of the love that is in one’s heart. Love that will not sacrifice is only a sentiment, a fair blossom from which no fruit comes. Love is ready always for serving.”

Other than work, are there other activities that give us joy? For some, it is physical activities such as jogging, cycling, walking, swimming, dancing, singing, playing musical instruments. For others, it can be playing with babies or young children, visiting and interacting with family or friends. While others, like to read religious books, biographies, memoirs, mystery novels, classics, comic strips. And others enjoy art, music, old movies, comedy movies, drawings, plays, ballet, etc.
A sure way to bring joy into our lives is to thank the Lord with a grateful heart. A heart that is full of gratitude cannot be depressed. It will be great, for our own well-being, if we can give ourselves regular daily doses of this essential “vitamin J.”

I find the following useful: An Invitation to Joy by Henri J M Nowen, TED Talks about Happiness, Talks on Happiness from YouTube, Work like a horse or work like a steward18 and Constantly Pray Over the Work

Written on 11 December 2017

Chronic Dry Cough
Since I did my Y-90 in June 17 and RFA, I have been having a chronic dry cough. I have seen the GP many times but the cough has not gone away. I am not unwell but the cough is very troublesome and disturbing particularly in the night. I did not formally mention the chronic dry cough to the Interventional Radiologist as I do not know whether it had anything to do with my Y-90 and RFA or not. After the first RFA on 22/8/17 I was given 125 capsules 20mg Omeprazole to be taken one capsule twice daily to prevent acid reflux from arising from my stomach and after the second RFA on 21/11/17 I was given 28 capsules. In between the RFAs I was not given any Omeprazole.

On 11 December 17, I saw the ENT doctor for my sleep apnea, which has shown good results after using the CPAP for the past 3 years. Casually, I mentioned about my chronic dry cough and my past 6 months of liver cancer treatment. The ENT doctor was very kind to examine me and she wrote to the GP the following:

Mr Liow has been seeing NUH ENT for severe OSA with good results on CPAP.
Incidentally he complains of chronic dry cough. Scope shows no significant post nasal drip; but he has edematous arytenoids ++ which suggests laryngopharyngeal reflux which may contribute to his cough.

He is already on omeprazole BD; and I am adding on Gaviscon.
Should there be minimal improvement and persists; please consider a referral to a respiratory phyisician/changing telmisartan (possibly contributing to cough?)

Thank you!

The ENT doctor proposed my taking 20 mg Omeprazola 2 capsules 2 times a day for 6 weeks then 1 capsule 2 times a day for 4 months and 200ml Gaviscon to be taken 3 times a day at 10ml when necessary. I hope my cough will now be OK.

After my MRI on 26 February 2018, I will see the Interventional Radiologist on 22 March 18. Since it appears that my chronic dry cough has to do with acid reflux, I will mention my cough to keep him informed.
[On 14/12/2017, the Interventional Radiologist moved the MRI appointment to 15 January 2018.]

Written on 12 December 2017

On 15 January 2018, I did my MRI. I hope and pray that Segment VIII will shrink further so that the doctor can perform the RFA on it. I will be seeing the doctor on 25/1/18 to get the result of the MRI.

Written on 16 January 2018

On 25 January 2018, I saw the RFA doctor. The result from the MRI was not available even after 10 days. This is absurd. It shows that SGH is understaffed. MRI is an expensive and urgent procedure. Normally one expects the result will be available within a day or two. I waited for 2 solid hours for the

doctor to tell me that the report, after 10 days, was not in the computer. I was greatly disappointed.

Segment VIII of my liver cancer, according to the doctor, from looking at his computer and doing an ultra sound, has shrunk a little bit. He did not want to commit to the actual size of it. I told him that I was hoping that Segment VIII would be reduced to below 3 cm so that an RFA could be performed. He said that RFA has it risks. Like infection and where the tumor is too near the heart. He hopes that the Segment 8 will be further reduced. He will try to get me the result tomorrow. He has scheduled me to see him in 6 months’ time. This looks like it is going to be a long process.
I was very anxious for this MRI result and had not been sleeping well. I was hoping for Segment VIII to shrink sufficiently for it to be burnt off by RFA.
To-date, on 4 different occasions, RFA has successfully been performed on various segments of my liver. I am therefore more hopeful that any coming RFA will also be successful with God’s help.

I have gone through a prolonged period of liver cancer suffering and I appreciate that, for me, my life is “the greatest enterprise in the world” and I am indeed “a special human being!”

Written on 25 January 2018

On 26/1/18, I have received the MRI report of 15/1/18 through my email from the doctor. I noted that Segment VIII is now been reduced to 4.1 x 2.8 cm. The RFA doctor has scheduled me to see him in 6 months’ time.

The overall MRI measurements on Segment VIII are as follows:
09/6/17—-6.3 x 5.1 cm
21/6/17 Y-90 was introduced to shrink the tumor
22/8/17—-5.0 x 4.1 cm
20/10/17—5.2 x 3.8 cm
15/1/18—-4.1 x 2.8 cm

Written on 26 January 2018

Lessons I learn
• To be able to see my blessings, I have to believe that God loves me unconditionally and trust in His mercy and grace for me. I have also to love and offer grace to those I care about.

• To have the humility to say, “Please forgive me” requires great courage. I need God’s help to do this as this is the way to mending and nurturing the relationships that matter.

• To unlock myself from the emotional prison of the past I need to be able to say, “I forgive you.” To do that I need to go to God for help.

• To grow in love, I need to constantly and endlessly forgive. I can’t do that on my own and I need to ask God for the strength to forgive.

• To regularly express my heart-felt thanks for every small blessing, I have to be more conscious of my dependence on God and my normal reliance on others.

• To have good relationships in the family, I must always say, “I love you” and “I care for you.”

• To pray for healing, I need to understand that God is wise and He can choose to:

Heal me immediately
Heal me slowly
Heal me over a prolong period of time Heal me not at all
And I need to trust and accept His wise choice.

• To cope with my grief, I must acknowledge my many emotions and not deny them. I need to cry out my pain face-to-face to the people closest to me.

• To be strong in enduring my suffering, I have to pray constantly to rely on God’s help and comfort.

• To be at peace and happy, I need to work at whatever I am doing with thoughtfulness, consideration and kindness for my fellow men.

• In my prolonged suffering, I am reminded to focus on what St Paul meant by:

Love bears all things Love believes all things Love hopes all things Love endures all things

A Prayer
To me, if you have read so far, God is calling you to take a quantum leap to Trust in Him, to Trust in Jesus Christ. You have the choice to choose to accept His call or reject His call. If you accept His call, may I suggest, that you:
Go to Him confidently as Christ says, “I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me” (John 6:37 TEV). And “You are the one who put me together inside my mother’s body, and I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me. Everything you do is marvelous! Of this I have no doubt.” (Psalm 139:13-14, CEV)
Pray to Him honestly with what is in your heart that is troubling you. Talk to Him like you are talking confidentially to your closest friend.
Listen to Him by staying still to hear—a word, a phrase, a paragraph, a passage that may come to you. But remember that any prompting that is evil is not from God. For “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (James 1:13, NKJV).
Act to follow up on the prompting.
Claim His promises of: Unconditional Love Limitless Mercy Boundless Grace
Unlimited Power that nothing is impossible with God
End the prayer with “I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen”

Written on 27 January 2018

My 7th Liver Cancer Occurrence
On 1/6/18 I saw my liver doctor and he advised me as follows:

Good News
My MRI on 17/5/18 showed that Segment VIII has shrunk to 2.1 x 1.1 cm.

Sad News
The sad news is that 5 new lesions have appeared as follows:
In Segment II, a 1.3cm nodule and another 3mm nodule have appeared. They showed typical cancer features.
In Segment III, two 5mm nodules appeared. They are indeterminate.
In Segment V, a 3mm nodule has appeared. It showed typical cancer features.

My Reaction
Being human, my reaction was one of surprise, shock, disappointment and sadness. I was expecting too much, a wonderful result. I was also a bit anxious as I have known of individuals dying of minor surgical procedures like piles, appendixes, etc.
Am I afraid? Not at the moment as I am not laid-up or bed-ridden.
I therefore need to acknowledge and affirm these feelings in order to accept them.

More importantly, I have to move on. I, therefore, have to direct my will and to decide on taking action to overcome my feelings. My will and my judgment must control my feelings. I have to go to Jesus and pray for strength to trust and believe

that He is fully in charge of my life. The outcome is ultimately in His hand.
I pray and hope that He will guide the decisions and surgical procedures of the doctors for a successful outcome.

Since the start of my liver cancer on April 1999, I have all in some 14 lesions. I had two surgical operations, one alcohol ablation, two radioactive nuclear medicines of iodine and Y-90 were carried out and five RFA done so far. The liver doctor just told me that if I am young he would recommend a liver transplant.

I do not want to do chemo and my wish is that the doctors will decide to perform RFA for the above 6 lesions, all in one go rather than in many sessions.

Please continue to pray for me. Written on 3 June 2018
Trust God, Trust the Doctors
On 11/6/2018, I saw the liver doctor, who advised me that the Liver Tumor Board have met on 6/6/2018 and due the many new tumors occurring, have recommended doing a targetted chemo, Transarterial Chemoembolization (TACE). As I was reluctant to do chemo he referred me to the Interventional Radiologist, whom I visited with my son on 12/6/2018. The Interventional Radiologist said that although the Segment VIII has been reduced to a size that can use RFA, still, due to the number of many new lesions, there is no certainty that all the cancer cells can be burnt. She recommended performing the Transarterial Chemoembolization (TACE) on the left and right lobe of the liver, one at a time. Performing both the lobes at the same time may damage the liver.

The Interventional Radiologist has scheduled the TACE (using Doxorubicin 50mg in 2mls of sterile water) to be done on 25/6/2018.

I was troubled in my mind as to why when they could measure the Segment VIII at 2.1 x 1.1 cm, yet they could not burn all the cancer cells there. My daughter rang from USA on the morning of 13 June 2018 and in talking with her; I came up with the idea that although the cancer was reduced from initially 6.3 x 5.1 cm to the current size of 2.1 x 1.1 cm, the spaces between the shrinkage could still be containing minute cancer cells which could not be measured by the MRI. This helps to alleviate my concern and I am more at peace now.

On the night of 13 June 2018, I discussed with my son on his impression of our visit with the Interventional Radiologist. He said that she is very knowledgeable and sure of her subject. The Interventional Radiologist has come to her decision based on her expertise with her subject. I was still uneasy with the TACE. My son asked me to list out my questions and concerns with the TACE procedure in order to take away my anxiety.
Here is a brief summary of my liver cancer experiences and my decisions:

  1. 1st Liver Cancer Occurrence
    My first liver cancer occurred sometime in February 1999 on Segments VI and VII.
    On April 1999 the first resection was done.
  2. 2nd Liver Cancer Occurrence
    The second liver cancer resection was done on Segment VII (3cm) in February 2000.

Soon after, I was amongst the first 3 in Singapore to be given radioactive nuclear medicine and was admitted to the hospital for 42 days for intermittent high fever.

  1. 3rd Liver Cancer Occurrence 1st RFA
    I was free from liver cancer for more than 12 years and the third liver cancer occurred on November 2012. I was so fearful of resection that I spent 6 months checking whether I did have malignant liver cancer. The cancer appeared on Segment VIII (1.8 cm) and Segment IVa, near a major artery.
    My first RFA (Radio Frequency Ablation) was successfully done on April 2013.
  2. 4th Liver Cancer Occurrence 2nd RFA
    One and a half years later, on 15 October 2014, a new tumor was found on Segment VIII (0.9 x 1.4 x 1.3 cm). On 17 October 2014 my second RFA was successfully carried out.
  3. 5th Liver Cancer Occurrence
    For more than 2.5 years I was free from cancer but on 25 May 2017, liver cancer was found on Segment VIII (6.3 x
    5.1 cm) and on Segment V (0.9 cm).
    As the Segment VIII cancer was so large and aggressive, nuclear medicine Y-90 was inserted into the liver through a catheter in my left hand to shrink the cancer.
    As for the cancer at Segment V, liquid alcohol was used to cure the cancer. This proved unsuccessful for the tumor had increased in size from 0.9 cm to 1.5 cm. The proposal was to use TACE or RFA to cure it. Since my body was used to RFA, I decided to use RFA and on 22 August 2017, the procedure was successfully carried out.
  4. 6th Liver Cancer Occurrence
    Unfortunately, two months later, on 26 October, another liver cancer occurred on Segment IV (1.1 cm). On 21 November 2017 the RFA was successfully carried out.
  5. 7th Liver Cancer Occurrence
    My MRI on 17/5/18 showed that Segment VIII has shrunk from 6.3 x 5.1 cm to 2.1 x 1.1 cm in 11 months.
    The MRI history for this Segment VIII is as follows: 09/06/17—-6.3 x 5.1 cm
    21/06/17 Y-90 was introduced to shrink the tumor
    22/08/17—-5.0 x 4.1 cm
    20/10/17—-5.2 x 3.8 cm
    15/01/18—-4.1 x 2.8 cm
    17/05/18—-2.1 x 1.1 cm

The sad News is that 5 new lesions have appeared as follows:
In Segment II, a 1.3cm nodule and another 3mm nodule have appeared. They showed typical cancer features.
In Segment III, two 5mm nodules appeared. They are indeterminate.
In Segment V, a 3mm nodule has appeared. It showed typical cancer features.

My decision to want to continue to do RFA was based entirely on my gut, my feelings and my experiences that RFA gives me minimum pain.

The questions I need to ask myself are: Should I review my assumptions?
What if I based my decision on wrong premises?
I know that in my project management, I have the knowledge; expertise and the gut feel to make great decisions.

But do I have the medical knowledge and expertise to make this medical decision?
Looking at the results that RFA has produced (with 5 RFA done and 6 more new lesions to be done), shouldn’t I review my decision for wanting to continue to do RFA?
Isn’t it high time that I consider a new alternative?
Shouldn’t my decision be based on “my will” to make the best judgment and choice and not purely on my feelings? “My will” must make the decision to do the right thing not my feelings, which can go up or down. Yes, gut feel can affirm the decision but should not over-ride the will, don’t I think so?
Isn’t it obvious to me that the doctors have the expertise to decide and I don’t have the knowledge to decide on medical matters?
Shouldn’t I trust the doctors?
In the midst of my tribulations, am I aware that God is guiding me to be a little bit more:
Tolerant Generous Kind Forgiving Loving
And a little bit less:
Judgmental Self-centered
Looking out mainly for myself?
If so, shouldn’t I trust God with “my will”?

Written on 15 June 2018

Obey God or “Surrender” to God
I always have a problem when Christians tell me and say that I should “surrender my live to God” or “Surrender my will to God’s will.” The way it is presented and the language used does not gel with me. I am not at war with God. Why should I then surrender? My God and Lord is love and He loves me unconditionally. There should not be any war or surrender from me to Him. Yes, I am to obey His commands for me and my will should be aligned with His will.
But, I am definitely at war with the devil. So, I am to overcome my temptations that are initiated by the devil.
My understanding is that I am basically controlled by “my feelings” or “my will.”
“My feelings” are like wild horses that are difficult to control. My negative feelings are fear, envy, anger, hatred, resentment, rage, bitterness, unforgiveness, rejection jealousy, guilt, condemnation, judgmental, etc. These negative emotions play havoc with my physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual health.
God has designed me wonderfully and perfectly such that my negative feelings can be overcome by “my will.” “My will” controls my intellect, my reason and my judgments. God has given me a free will. Thus, I have to choose my free will to overcome my negative feelings. The choice is mine to make— that is why it is my free will. I can overcome my negative feelings every now and then with my will. But whenever I fail to do so, I go to my Jesus to ask for help again and again as He promises: “I will never turn away anyone who comes to me” (John 6:37 TEV).

Lately, I am particularly drawn and touched by the videos: “No Disease is incurable Session 5—A Journey through the Bible to find out the cause of Diseases” by Dr Michelle K Strydom and “Life at Its Best 4 – Rewiring Your Brain by Barbara O’Neill (16 April 2016)”
The series of videos by these two writers have helped me to reconcile the language of “obey” and “surrender” to my own satisfaction.

In my working life:
I heed my boss guidance I take his instructions and
I obey his commands as to how he wants it done.
Similarly, I try, in my spiritual life:
To heed the guidance of my Lord and God To take His instructions and
To obey His commandments.
Thus, I choose to “Obey” God rather than “Surrender” to God.
So I learn to trust my God and Savior.
And slowing I come to have the full confidence that He is in charged of my life.

Written on 21 June 2018

I have been severely knocked down by my liver cancer 7 times but have not been knocked out. I am still fighting courageously on with God’s help. I must not let the negative emotions to seep in and take root. But being human and after such a long ordeal, I am naturally tired and F E A R F U L:

F for fear, faithless, forlorn
E for envy, embittered, exhausted
A for anger, animosity, abusive, avarice R for resentment, rage, revengeful

F for frustration, failure, faint
U for unforgiveness, unloving, unfairly
L for lost of hope, loss of courage, low self-esteem.

The devil is very crafty to want to keep me in these negative states of mind. I must not let him retain me here. The devil wants me to automatically and quickly respond with “my feelings” or emotions but I must learn to take time to use “my will” to choose the positive action needed.
Fortunately, while discussing my book yesterday, an angel, in the form of a person, suggested that I change my cover page to one in which Jesus appeared, walking in a storm rescuing Peter. What a perfect ICON for me:

When I focus on Jesus (my God and my Lord) I can
walk on water. What a miracle.
When I focus on the storm (my cancer), I sink and fumble.
And when I call out to Jesus for help, He is always there to offer His helping hands.

From now onward my focus must be on: “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely,
whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and
if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things.” (Phil 4:8 NKJV)

Written on 22 June 2018

Fear not
As a human being I am anxious and fearful for my coming 7 liver cancer occurrence and procedure. I have not done Transarterial Chemoembolization (TACE) before nor do I personally know of anyone having done it in Singapore. I have not gone to the internet to look up what the experience was like. All medical procedures have their risks. Although the doctor said that the risk is extremely small of liver failure for TACE, I was nevertheless a bit worried.
It did not help that I have a very stressful week and short on my temper. It also did not help me much when I experienced sharp pain on my left chest, 1-2” to the right of my left nipple, last night and in the early morning. It was an unusual pain. I have never felt this pain before. Whenever I yawn, cough or press on the location, I felt a sharp pain. We checked with a relative who is a doctor and he assured us that it is not a heart failure but probably a muscle bruise, due to a knock or carrying a heavy load this week. Since I did not have a knock on my chest this week and I did not carry any heavy load, I thought that it might be due to anxiety. Later when I reflected on it, I remembered that while I was in Penang on a holiday, on 5 June 2018, I had a fall. I wrote the note below:

“God has been very kind n has been looking after me. Now that I am thinking of what happened to me at the
Gurney Mall this afternoon, it could have been a disastrous incident. I could have been hospitalized, so not been able to enjoy my holiday. Thinking about the accident makes me shiver.
“We agreed to meet at a certain time. I was early and was tired. There was a raised Rolex stall at the pedestrian walkway. I asked whether I could sit there while waiting for my friends and Shirley. I walked in to sit but I did not see

the 4 inches raised floor on an aluminum strip with no distinctive indication whatsoever.
“I fall flat on my face. The fall was so bad that some 10 people came to assist me and asked after me. If it had been the shop proper I would have fallen on a marble floor and it would have been a terrible accident. I could have landed in hospital with broken bones. But the stall was on wooden floor with carpet and although I tripped so badly, all I suffered was just a bruise on my knee cap and scrape with slight bleeding. It was just such a bad accident that some 10 people came to help. I was knocked flat out. If it was a minor accident I think not many people would have come to help.
“Thank you for praying for me. I have to acknowledge that God is looking after me. Thank God.”

There were two other incidents recently where I felt that God is looking after me.
Being a Christian I am commanded to “Fear not.”
I have decided to see where in the New Testament the words “Fear not” was used. I find in KJV the following:

Mt:28:5: And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

Mt:1:20: But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

Mt:10:28: And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Lk:1:13: But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

Lk:1:30: And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

Lk:2:10: And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

Lk:5:10: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.

Lk:8:50: But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying,
Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.

Lk:12:7: But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Lk:12:32: Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Lk:18:4: And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

Jn:12:15: Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.

Acts:27:24: Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.

Rv:1:17: And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

Do I have the will to obey the instruction of “Fear not”? I will try and pray that God helps me to fulfill His instruction. When I “Fear not,” I will definitely help myself in the medical procedure and it will be easier for me. Should I fail, I know that I can always go to Him for help and He is always there to help. Just try!!!
Written on 23 June 2018

Holy Oil
On 24 June, after the church service, my wife, my daughter and I went to see the priest to ask for a prayer and an anointing of Holy Oil as advised in the Bible. In James 5:14- 15 NKJV, it stated:

“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the
Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

My impression of the prayer is the priest asking for forgiveness of my sin, strength to bear, courage and “Fear not” to go through the medical procedure tomorrow. Thank God.

Written on 24 June 2018

The TACE Procedure
On 25 June 2018 I had my TACE done.
Overall the procedure took a little too long. I came to the hospital at 11.30am and finished at 6.10pm. The wait is on giving me antibiotic drip which took more than 2.30 hours. The TACE took slightly more than 2 hours.
The Interventionist Radiologist introduced a catheter through the groin to the liver guided by CT Scan and the chemo was introduced to the tumors. She did it with a local anesthetic and I was fully conscious.
The real problem is how to control my emotion. How to not feel stress? How to be at peace and rest? How to keep my mind from being stressed up? How to reduce the tension within me? How not to anticipate the outcome? How to accept the procedure?
Fortunately, I kept my mind captive to the Icon of Jesus’ rescuing Peter in the storm. Every time my mind or emotions feel the stress due to hours I was under, I divert my focus to this Icon of Jesus. It was fantastic. It is such a simple and easy visualization. At the same time I keep repeating the mantra—Jesus supports me by giving me the strength and courage to fight on fearlessly. I am grateful and thank Jesus for it.
Overall I am good and did not suffer too much after- effect except that it took me hours before I was able to pee. The ward doctor wanted to put a catheter to relief the pee. I agreed but later said no. Fortunately I then was able to do it.

The doctor and her team were very good. She chemo segments VIII, II and possibly V. I will be seeing her
next Tuesday for her to assess further. In all the whole procedure went well for me. But I am not too keen to repeat it. Not like RFA which is much easier. Well looks like I have to fight much longer. Thanks for all your support and prayers.
Thank you Lord Jesus, doctor, nurses and hospital staff.

Written on 26 June 2018

For the past 4 days I was having fever and gastritis and was not feeling too good. It was to be expected for the TACE procedure.

Written on 30 June 2018

On 3 July 2018 I saw the Interventionist Radiologist who confirmed that she has done TACE on Segment II and Segment
VIII. She has scheduled me to do the MRI on 6 Aug 2018 and to see her on 14 Aug. She will decide what to do further after the MRI result.
I mentioned that I was having fever of some 37.2oc to
38.8 oc and I was taking for the last 3 days some 6 Panadol tablets per day. She said that for my case I should not be taking so many Panadol as that will damage my liver further. She said that I should not be taking Panadol unless the temperature goes beyond 37.9 oc and I didn’t feel well. Just use ice packs. What a relief to hear this because yesterday I was knocked out by the fever. Fevers after TACE were to be expected. My fevers were troubling but were not unbearable.

Written on 3 July 2018

Last night my temperature went up to 38.3 oc. I did not take Panadol and I used ice pack on my forehead and back of neck for 2 hours. The temperature did not go down much. I noticed that the fever was like what happened after my second operation in 2000, except that it did not go beyond 40+ oc. I was not unwell but it was trying. It was rough but not unbearable. I focused on Jesus Icon rescuing Peter. I prayed and was finally able to fall asleep.
In the morning my temperature was 37.4 oc

My observation is that modern medicine has found that the body just fights off foreign powerful drugs, like chemo, nuclear medicine, etc that try to kill the cells. With the fight comes fever and it is best to let the body works out the fever, if the person can take it. But, fever is like having a migraine that takes the joy out of daily living or a pebble in the shoe that takes the joy out of walking.
Looking at the powerful drugs I was given to fight the fever in 2000 and none of them worked at all. So tough it out and divert to help myself!!!

Written on 4 July 2018

My Greatest Lesson Learnt—Forgiveness
Life is full of surprises if I am willing to learn new ideas. I understand that modern science states that the brain is fluid and plastic. Not rigid and fixed as was believed formerly. It can be changed even in old age.
Young people who are victims of physical, psychological
or emotional abuse naturally react with anger, resentment, bitterness, hatred, revengefulness and un-forgiveness. This proves that they are not a robot!!! As human beings, we have feelings! Yes, we might have these ugly negative thoughts!

We can deny them, hide them or harbour them. When we do that it is like drinking poison and expecting nothing bad will happen to us. No way. Somehow or other, they will manifest themselves in some form of disease or resentment towards others. If we allow these ugly thoughts to take hold in our heart, then as Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man,” (Matthew 15:19-20, NKJV).

God does not bring these hurts and wounds upon us, but once they are inflicted on us, He is able to turn them to our benefit if we will trust Him to do so. Satan intends to destroy us, but God can take whatever the devil sends against us and turn it to our good. We must believe that or we will despair!
One of the ways is to name these natural human emotions so as to accept them but not to retain them and move on to do something about them. Don’t let these negative emotions take root in our heart. When these have taken root, we have to detoxify these negative thoughts and replace them with positive healthy thoughts such as patience, kindness, generosity, praiseworthiness, mercy, compassion, love and most importantly FORGIVENESS. What an impossible task on our own effort!
But God can work miracles of healing out of all sins and negative attitude!
And for us to heal and release ourselves from the mental and emotional prisons of our past, our response must be one of forgiveness!!!
Everything in my human nature goes against this very idea of forgiveness. I don’t see how I can forgive wrongs, unless it is with God’s grace! But God gives me no option!!! It is a command from Him to me to forgive those

who do me wrong. His command means that I am to obey and forgive anybody who has invaded or trespassed my rights, my territory, my comfort, my self-image, whether they acknowledge the invasion or not.
Again, I am reminded in the Lord’s Prayer, Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us' (Matt 6:9-13). And that is followed by a pretty plain statement: If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses’ (Matt 6:15, NKJV).” I am not asked to pray, Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who ask us to.' What this means to me is that I am to forgive the person who does me wrong. His offences (his trespasses) against me I will have to leave them to God‘s judgment! As the Lord says “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” (Romans 12:19, NIV). When I go to God and sincerely ask for His forgiveness, God assures me that He will forgive me. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his book ‘Darkness and Light.’ said, “ How can I know, says someone, that my sins are forgiven? I will give you a very good test. If you want to know whether your sins are forgiven or not, here is my test. Are you forgiving others? Are you ready to forgive others who have harmed you and sinned against you? Or look at it in another way: Does this argument of the Apostle appeal to you? As I read out these words,Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you’, are you softened in your feelings? do you feel melted? are you ready to forgive at this moment? If you are, I do not hesitate to say you are a Christian. But if bitterness is still rankling there, and if you are saying in spite of these glorious words, `But after all, I did nothing and I don’t deserve such treatment’, you had better go back and examine your

foundations. I find it very difficult to see how such a person can be a Christian at all.” (A Person, who Knows he is Forgiven, Forgives, pg 285)

Forgiveness like love is not entirely an emotion. Forgiveness is a will, a choice, a decision by me to forgive.

In forgiving others:
I am FREEING myself from my own prison of bitterness and resentment.
I cancel the debt he owes me. I choose to pardon his debt.
I decide to bestow favor unconditionally to him. I suck out the poison in my anger and hatred.

In forgiving myself:
I let go of regrets
I don’t berate myself for missing past opportunities
I don’t whack myself for what I could, should or ought to have done
I no longer envy what my peers have achieved

There are many benefits in forgiving others. I would strongly recommend that we read Lee Strobel’s article, Forgiving our Enemies brings us Enormous Benefits19 from his book, “God’s Outrageous Claims”, “The Emotional Economics of Forgiveness” by Dr Ira Byock and “Harden not the Heart with Pride” by Fr Roland Rolheiser.

Written on 6 July 2018

On 14 August 2018 I saw the Interventionist Radiologist who confirmed that the MRI on 6 August showed that the TACE on Segment II and Segment VIII was successfully carried out. Unfortunately, a new minor tumor was observed on Segment IVa at 4mm (8th Liver Cancer Occurrence) and as for Segment V the tumor has increased from 3mm to 6mm. I understand that for tumors that are less than 10mm, it is difficult to precisely target the tumors and thus could do more harm to the surrounding good tissue, if tumor procedure to remove them is done now. Since the tumors were less than 10mm, the Interventionist Radiologist has decided to do a CT Scan in 4 months’ time before deciding what to do next.

Written on 18 August 2018

Forgiveness is A Necessity for Healing20
Recently I was introduced to Dr Michelle K Strydom video tapes and book. Upon listening and reading the book, I found that my understanding of forgiveness is not complete. I have missed a vital objective of forgiveness, which is, that it must lead ultimately to LOVE our enemies as well.
When God tells us in His Word to forgive others He does not stop there. He goes on to instruct us to love, to do good and to bless our enemies too. Jesus calls us in Luke 6:27-28; “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.”
Jesus gave us the real reason for forgiveness, “For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you

hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.
Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” (Luke 6:32-36)

According to Dr Michelle K Strydom, “I will tell you emphatically that forgiveness is a prerequisite to all healing. There’s just no way around it”
I would recommend reading her write-up on “Dealing with Disease from a Medical Perspective” [659-714] and “Separate yourself from the sin that dwells within you” [115-125]. And Who I Am in Christ by Michelle K Strydom21

I wish to Proclaim what Jesus has done for me
In my prolonged suffering Jesus Christ has directed my mind to move from my automatic Reaction of Fight, Flight and Freeze to my “Free Will” Response as quickly as possible. With Jesus’ help, I want to go from Bitterness, Hatred, Revenge and Unforgiveness to LOVE and finally to Joy, Peace and Rest as soon as I can.

I find the systematic chart below to be a very easy and useful guide!!!

Spending my time in 2018
How have I been spending my time in 2018?

On 31st Jan 2018, I published my book on My 5th and 6th Liver Cancer Occurrences [80 copies]
On March 2018, my Second Edition of my 5th and 6th Liver Cancer Occurrences was published [40 copies]
On 7th July 2018, I published my 7th Edition Liver Cancer Occurrence [40 copies]
On 8th August 2018, the Second Edition of 7th Edition Liver Cancer Occurrence was published [40 copies]
On 1st October 2018, the Third Edition of 7th Edition Liver Cancer Occurrence was published [50 copies]
On 5th November 2018, there was a first Reprint of 7th Edition Liver Cancer Occurrence [107 copies, the 7 extra were given by the printer]
On 14th November 2018 there was a second Reprint of 7th Edition Liver Cancer Occurrence [106 copies, the 6 extra were given by the printer]
On 20th November 2018 there was a third Reprint of 7th Edition Liver Cancer Occurrence [106 copies the 6 extra were given by the printer]

But why were there suddenly such large quantities of my book printed in November 2018? There were many coincidences or God’s guidance:

On 19 June 2018 Elliot introduced Dr Michelle K Strydom’s 22 video tapes in the Lau/Low family Group in WhatsApp. I listened to all the 22 video tapes, each from 1-2 hours. I enjoyed them and there were many good views but I do not entirely agree with some of her ideas.

On 8 August 2018, out of the blue, Dawn emailed me Dr Michelle Strydom’s link of her 4th Edition book, which was free for downloading at begins-with-sanctification-of-the-heart-4th-edition/. I downloaded the book which is some 750 pages long. Read certain portions and included them into my website including putting 2 of them in Appendixes 20 and 21 of my book.

On 20th August 2018, I believed that I have written a journal based on my experience of what Jesus has done for me and to bring comfort to others who are suffering from cancer. I summarized my experience on the chart in page 75, where I have asked Lisa to help. The chart was to simplify, summarize and systemize the essential points of my experience.
On 8 September 2018, Choon Hoe advised about Dr Michelle Strydom Healing and Sanctification Conference from 13 – 16 November at Church of Our Saviour.
On 12 September 2018 Dawn advised me of the same conference.
On 14 September 2018 Dawn informed me about a talk at Trinity Community Center on 15 September 2018. I decided to go so that I could give some of my books. Leng advised me to get permission before giving out the books. I had to go through 3 to 4 people before they got the Pastor to allow me to give out the free book. This a dry run for me of getting permission.

I came to the conclusion that only a few people would bother to read a 441 pages book and therefore I would have wasted my effort in printing and giving away the book. I therefore asked Zhi for his advice. He said to think about what exactly I wanted the people to take away from my book. So “A Note to the Reader” was written on 25 September 2018 with

“The primary benefit of my book is for the reader to be attracted enough to read appendixes 15, 14 and 20 in that order.” I tested this with Jeanette, Meng Choong and Christina on the eve of Jeanette’s migration dinner to Australia on 26 September 2018. Jeanette said she will read the Appendixes.

On 30 September 2018 Leng and I decided, after I have agonized for some time, to attend Dr Michelle Strydom’s conference. At first I was reluctant to go as the conference time was for 4 days from 9.00am to 6.30pm. I did not think I had the stamina to last the grueling hours and I will be wasting my money for the fee to the Conference. Finally, we decided to go but my real objective of going to the conference was to give away my books at the conference. Meanwhile I placed an order for 100 copies of my book for I have also decided to place my books on the information counters at the West and East Horizon Towers. I obtained permission from the Manager as well as the security guards. .

On 13 November 2018, I brought 25 books to Dr Michelle Strydom’s conference. At the registration counter, I asked who I could ask for permission to give the books away. They pointed me to an elderly person who incredulously happened to be next to the registration counter at the time of my asking and I obtained his permission. The 25 books were taken up within the hour. So, I gave immediate instruction to my printer to print another 100 books to be ready and to be delivered to the Church of Our Saviour on 15 November 2018 at 8.45am sharp. Later, at the conference break, I saw the elderly person talking to another person and I told them that I would bring more books for the next 3 days. The elderly person told the other person also. I met the other person at the toilet and I asked the other person what is his name and he informed me he is Laurence Lee and the person I asked permission from is

Pastor John Lee from River of Life Church but they are not related.

On 14 November 2018, I brought 25 copies to be given away again. But this time while arranging the books on a table, a staff from the commercial organizer of the Conference objected to my giving away books. I told him that I have obtained permission from the Pastor of the River of Life Church, Pastor Lee. He took my books off the table, saying that he would check. He did not check with Pastor John Lee and I asked him to go with me to see the Pastor. When Pastor Lee came, he insisted that he cannot allow me to use the conference hall to distribute my free books! He said he did not allow someone from another company to sell his books there. I told him that I was not selling the books but was giving the books away free. He insisted that if I wanted, I could give the books away, during the lunch break, in the lobby, outside the conference hall. Pastor Lee did not want to argue with him nor defend his permission to me. The Pastor apologized to me later. I accepted the decision and so told my printer to send all the books to Zhi’s home instead.

On 15 November 2018, I did not bring any book to the conference. I was disappointed that I had to store so many books in Zhi’s home. Meanwhile in the early morning, I prayed. I was confident that if it is God’s desire, He would give me an indication as to what to do. At about 10.30am, while seated in the Conference hall, the Pastor came to see me and said he was prompted to read 80 pages of my book that same morning and he found it “inspiring and instructive” and it was a “blessing” to him. He asked that I get a carton of my books tomorrow and he will personally give them away and he also told me that Laurence Lee is the commercial manager in charge of the conference. Later when I talked to Laurence Lee,

he apologized for the misunderstanding yesterday. It was his assistant who stopped me without checking with him.

On 16 November 2018, I brought all the 106 books and left them at the poach of the Church as the Pastor messaged me that he would be late coming to the conference. At 10.30 am break, Pastor Lee himself gave away the books. All 106 copies were taken up within 20 minutes. Unbelievable!!! He introduced me as the author and also asked me to autograph the book for whoever wanted it. I felt a little embarrassed and awkward autographing the book as this is the first time for me.

On 20 November 2018, I brought 103 copies to the Blessed Sacrament Church, after having obtained permission from the Parish Priest. All the 103 copies were given out within 30 minutes.

I am happy with God’s perfect timing and grace to me.

Written on 17 December 2018

9th Liver Cancer Occurrence
On 18 December 2018 I saw the Interventional Radiologist who confirmed that the CT Scan on 7th December 2018 showed that there is another new tumor on Segment III at 1.0 cm (9th Liver Caner Occurrence). As for Segment II/IVa the tumor has increased to 1.2 cm and Segment V tumor has increased to 1.1 cm.
[The summary of 6 August 2018 MRI showed that TACE was done successfully on Segments II and VIII. Unfortunately, a new minor tumor was observed on Segment IVa at 4 mm (8th Liver Cancer Occurrence) and as for Segment V the tumor

has increased from 3 mm to 6 mm. Since the tumors were small the doctors decided to do a CT Scan in 4 months’ time].

The Interventionist Radiologist did an ultra sound on my liver. All in, she spent more than an hour explaining my situation for me:

  1. She proposed to do RFAs on the three tumors. She said that she can see the tumor at Segment V easily, Segment III is next to the vein and that would be challenging but Segment II/IVa she could not see clearly as it is underneath the rib bone. She proposed to put me under GA to carry out the procedure. She explained that my liver is small and has been compromised by the many procedures that have been done to it. My vein is also small and she would rather not do TACE. Every procedure has its risk. When she removes the RFA probe there could be bleeding and carrying out more RFAs would involve more risks. The hospital will monitor me for a night to observe whether there is any bleeding and discharge the next day if OK. But she knew of cases, where a person suddenly fainted after 7 days of being discharged, because of internal bleeding. That could be fatal if not sent to the hospital immediately.
  2. I can leave the tumors alone and continue to monitor them. If it is not aggressive than it is OK but if they are aggressive, then I will have to go for immunotherapy. In which case I will be under the immunization drugs daily and that will have their own risks.
  3. If I am younger she would recommend a liver transplant but due to my age I will not be able to get a liver for transplant. Liver transplant also has its risks.
  4. As I have hepatitis B and liver cirrhosis, it is likely that new liver tumors are likely to develop.
  5. She said that I have been blessed for surviving more than 19 years of liver cancer.

She asked for my preference. Leng and I decided to go for the RFAs. We came home feeling shocked, downcast and overwhelmed by the blunt professional advice. I wished that she could be a little bit more empathic.
I searched the internet to listen to YouTube on suffering to see how other people handle such a situation. I came across Joni Eareckson Tada and her sufferings resonated with me. She has suffered more than 50 years of being a quadriplegic with daily chronic pain. During the last 8 years she has stage 3 breast cancer as well. I listen to her videos and am helped by her perspective and view on suffering (See the YouTube videos on Suffering by Jodi Eareckson Tada).
One remark Joni Eareckson Tada said that helped me a lot was her comment that it was OK to grieve over her cancer. I did not know that I was grieving and the word “grieve” suddenly clicked with me. I could then see that my “new, new normal health” is what I was grieving about. The cure for grieving as I have written earlier is to name, acknowledge and affirm my fear, anxiety, concern and stress, face to face with a caring individual, in order to come to acceptance quickly and thus move on. My acceptance is to ask Jesus for strength, courage and hope to really trust that my life, whether I have 10 more days or 10 more years to live, is in His Almighty, loving hands. Once I see and believe this, I become more assured and at peace, and ready to move on.
Our children rallied round Leng and me by coming back from overseas to give us support.
The RFA procedure is scheduled for 17 January 2019. Please pray for me.

Written on 29 December 2018

My Reaction or My Response
I am particularly drawn to two of Jodi Eareckson Tada YouTube videos:

Joni Eareckson Tada – Christ Our Healer M8Y

Why Am I Not Healed – Joni Eareckson Tada 4&

Although Jodi is not physically healed for more than 50 years from her quadriplegic and daily chronic pain, she is slowly being emotionally healed. She prayed for a new glorified heart that is being slowly freed from selfishness, freed from self-centeredness, freed from fear and a heart that accepts everything without complaining. She looks forward to a heart that is being healed and transformed to be more like Jesus.

I am still being mystified by the presence of suffering, tribulation or trials. There is no single bullet to solve the mystery. For me, I find that in my liver cancer suffering, I am basically controlled by:

  1. My Reaction or
  2. My Response
  3. My Reaction
    My immediate automatic reaction is controlled by emotional feelings such as fear, anxiety, stress, envy, anger, resentment, rage, hatred, bitterness, un-forgiveness, rejection, jealousy, guilt, murmuring, condemnation, judgmental, complaining, etc. These

negative emotions play havoc with our physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being. Why do we automatically react in such a way? Could it be that we have been emotionally, physically or psychologically abused when very young? Have we been harboring revenge in our heart?

  1. My Response
    My response is my “free will” to choose and to decide. God has designed me wonderfully and perfectly such that my negative feelings can be overcome by “my will.” “My will” controls my intellect, my reasoning and my judgment. God has given me a free will. Thus, I can choose to use my will to overcome any negative feeling. I can choose to make a positive response instead! I can overcome my negative feelings every now and then with applying my will power! But, whenever I fail to do so, I go to my Lord Jesus to ask for help again and again as He has promised: “I will never turn away anyone who comes to me” (John 6:37 TEV).
  2. In my daily Practice
    Whenever I focus on Jesus, as Timothy aptly expressed, “The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength” (2 Tim. 4:17 NIV). This gives me the courage and hope to continue fighting against the liver cancer. Among Jesus’ last words were: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20 NIV). “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb. 13:5 NIV). In this place the writer of Hebrew uses a word that really means, “I will never, never, never, never leave you or forsake you!”

I also find that when daily I go to Him and focus on Him rather than on my circumstances, miracles can take place in me, in that I am slowly being refined, purified, cleansed and transformed by the holy blood of Jesus, to be more loving, to be more like Him—for He is Love. So, I can genuinely desire to pray the beautiful prayer of St Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
0 divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

There is therefore much cause for comfort and joy. On my own I may be negative but with Jesus’ love, grace and mercy, I am able to see my blessings thus far. Jesus is faithful and dependable and I am beginning to trust Him more. I am more prepared now to entrust my life to Him knowing, ”He works everything for the good of those who love Him.” Jesus has a way of manifesting His presence known to the most unworthy child! That is why He can be real to me. He forgives, loves, comforts and cares for all His children! He stays with them until they get themselves sorted out

What Amazing love! What amazing Grace! It is up to each one of us to choose and to decide to believe this or not. For those of us who choose this attitude, we rejoice always in the Lord! That is the reason why I am given the choice to stay smiling and be hopeful or to whine and be in despair about my many dreadful liver cancer occurrences. When I am weak, then I am strong when Jesus is there to support me! My attitude will stand in sharp contrast with what others would naturally expect from me and will create opportunities for testifying to Jesus’ love and grace. I can thus be a witness to the love of my Lord, Jesus Christ.

I find the following useful Rejoicing in the Lord by R T Kendall, The Lessons from Suffering by John Macarthur and Paul: A Profile in Suffering by John Macarthur

Written on 8 January 2019

The Choices We Face Every Day
On 17 January 2019, I went through RFA for 2 tumors. The doctor could not see the third one with ultrasound so she could not RFA it. She mentioned that she may have to do TACE with CT Scan later on. There was a slight complication as there was bleeding and I have to be in HDU for monitoring. I have to stay another day.
Thank you Lord Jesus. Thank you for the doctors and nurses who have carried out the 2 RFAs. Thank you for my family, relatives and friends who have prayed for the tumor procedure.

In the last 20 months, I had 5 new liver cancer occurrences. I also had problems with constipation, colon, chest, chronic cough, dental tooth and gum. I went through

an intense and prolonged period of suffering. Life seemed to be at a standstill because I had to see the various doctors practically every 10-14 days and the total wait, payment, medical tests and medicines took some 2 to 3 hours plus every time. It was the waiting that caused the most stress and anxiety.

It is easy to fall into the automatic reaction. Since I saw the Interventional Radiologist on 18 December 2018, I noticed that I was having palpitation of my stomach every so often. Intuitively, I must have been anxious and stressed. I could not help myself as this is a normal human reaction. What is most unique to me is also most common and universal.

I just found out from the internet that the liver size is from 12 to 14 cm. I was told that for a 1.0 cm tumor, the Interventional Radiologist need to burn about 3.0 cm around the tumor to ensure that all the cancer cells are killed. My liver is small and compromised with so many procedures done. For the latest TACE procedure for Segments 2 and 8, the liver has not fully grown yet. Thus, to carry out 3 RFAs at the same time means that 9 cm of my liver has to be burnt. It is thus a challenge to ensure that my liver still function properly after the 3RFAs. In a way, I cannot say that I was sad that only 2 tumors were done. God has His mysterious ways to help me cope with my small liver!!!

Every one has to find a solution to his normal negative feelings in order to be positive about his suffering. If he can adopt a positive attitude or accept his circumstances—that is the best for him.
But, for me I am weak and I have to depend on my Lord, Jesus Christ to support me in order that I have the courage, strength and hope to continue to fight on. I choose

to respond by going to Jesus daily and in the process I find that the emotions in my heart are being slowly transformed. From God’s perspective, the healing in my heart is in its purification to becoming more loving and forgiving. This is far more important to Him than mere physical healing. But for the loving to grow, I must forgive first. I just got this into my head!!!

See how Fr Ronald Rolheiser explained it:
In “The Choices we Face Every Day by Fr Ronald Rolheiser”, he said:
“. . . in Gethsemane, we see Jesus prostrate, humanly devastated, on the ground, struggling mightily to cling to a cord of sustenance that had always sustained Him in trust, love, and forgiveness and had kept paranoia, hatred, and despair at bay. And the answer doesn’t come easy for Him. He has to pray repeatedly and, in Luke’s words, “sweat blood” before He can regain His balance and root Himself again in that grace that sustained Him throughout His ministry. Love and forgiveness are not easy.
“And that’s our ultimate moral struggle: to not give in to our natural reaction whenever we are not respected or when slighted, ignored, misunderstood, hated or in small or large ways victimised. In the face of these, paranoia automatically takes over and almost everything inside us conspires to create an obsessive pressure towards giving back in kind, slight for slight, disrespect for disrespect, ugliness for ugliness, hatred for hatred, violence for violence.
“But there’s another possibility: Like Jesus, who Himself had to struggle mightily to not give in to coldness and hatred, we too can draw strength through the same umbilical cord that nurtured Him. His Father, God’s grace and strength, can nurture us too.

“Jesus’ passion is not a physical drama but a moral one, indeed the ultimate moral drama. The real struggle for Jesus as He sweated blood in Gethsemane was not whether He would allow Himself to die or invoke divine power and escape. The question was only about how He was going to die: In bitterness or love? In hatred or forgiveness?
That’s also our ultimate moral struggle, one which won’t just confront us at the moment of death but one which confronts us daily, hourly. In every situation in our lives, small or large, where we are unfairly ignored, slighted, insulted, hated or victimised [or suffer] in any way, we face a choice of how to respond: Bitterness or understanding. Hatred or love. Vengeance or forgiveness.” [CatholicNews— Sunday January 20, 2019]

Written on 18 January 2019 while still in the hospital.

On 19 January 2019, after 3 nights’ stay in the hospital, I was discharged.
On 22 January 2019 I saw the Interventional Radiologist. She wanted to ensure that there was no internal bleeding and asked whether in the last few days, I had:

Temperature Felt giddy
Stomach pain or stomach extension

She was satisfied when I answered no. She did an ultrasound and confirmed that the RFA done on tumors in Segments III and V were alright. She still could not see the tumor in Segment II/IVa. She arranged for a CT Scan on 27th February. The earliest date the staff could arrange for me to see her was 19th March.

Today, her nurse rang to say that the Interventional Radiologist has shifted the date for seeing her to 5th March at 8.30am. Is this a coincidence or God’s guiding hand for her to slot me in earlier? I would have been very anxious and stressed with having to wait for 3 weeks to see her after the CT Scan. It appears that the earliest date for the TACE procedure on Segment II/IVa maybe in March/April 2019.

Written on 23 January 2019

Joy by Henri J M Nouwen22
I saw a great video by Dr Liz O’Riordan in:
The Jar of Joy | Liz O’Riordan | TEDxStuttgart Dr O’ Riordan is a breast surgeon who has seen
hundreds of cancer patients. She finds it very hard to cope when she was diagnosed with cancer herself. She was young, fit and healthy—A triathlete and a cyclist. She was scared. She couldn’t accept the diagnosis and she was in denial. Cancer to her is still a terminal disease.
She shares her experience as a patient which is very different than being a doctor. The perspective is entirely new to her. She has to uplift herself and tells how she has to collect little moments of joy in a jar, to boost herself up, whenever she was down. She also has got together a few doctors who are suffering from cancer to support each other in their journey as patients. Just receiving a short note uplifts her spirit.
I find it useful to listen to what others say about “Joy from TEDTalk “ and “Gratitude from YouTube”

Throughout this prolonged trial, I have been thanking my Lord, Jesus Christ, the doctors, nurses, family, relatives and friends.

It is easy to say thank you, but in what explicit way can I show my gratitude?
I agree that the best way to show my gratitude is to quickly accept my trying circumstances with joy!!!. And to move on.
But how can I be joyful in my prolonged suffering?
It is easy to give in to discouragement in the face of suffering. What if I deliberately make it a point to bring some joy where there is sadness in my life? For joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Joy is also the pathway to God.
As a Christian, I believe in Christ. So what about focusing on Christ, who has come to shower me with love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and who dies for me with the joy of the Risen Christ? I also need to concentrate on His support and faithfulness to slowly come to trust Him to be in-charge of my life. Trusting Him will definitely bring me comfort and joy!
Since, I know that as a human being I have the freedom to choose joy instead of any other emotional state. I have this free will to make the decision and it is for me to affirm the choice.
Thus, I must be constantly aware that life is made up of moment by moment. At any given moment, life gives me the opportunity to choose what life offers me. It is for me to choose the little moments that give me joy—be it children’s laughter, a beautiful flower, a sweet melody, a whiff of baked biscuit, a pleasant sensation, a small surprise, a new ideas, etc— and it is for me to stop, watch and enjoy these fleeting moments. I decide whether to collect and record them for that day to remind me what life is all about.
See how Henri Nouwen explained this joy:
Choosing Joy
Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many, joy seems hard to find. They complain that their lives are

sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck? Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently from the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it.
What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice. (Bread for the journey, Jan 30)

Many people hardly believe anymore in the possibility of a truly joy-filled life. They have more or less accepted life as a prison and are grateful for every occasion that creates the illusion of the opposite: a cruise, a suspense novel, a sexual experience, or a few hours in a heightened state of consciousness. This is happiness in the house of fear, a happiness which is “made in the world” and thus is neither lasting nor deeply satisfying.
The joy that Jesus offers His disciples is His own joy, which flows from His intimate communion with the One who sent Him. It is a joy that does not separate happy days from sad days, successful moments from moments of failure, experiences of honour from experiences of dishonour, passion from resurrection. This joy is a divine gift that does not leave us during times of illness, poverty, oppression or persecution. It is present even when the world laughs or tortures, robs or maims, fights or kills. It is truly ecstatic, always moving us away from the house of fear into the house of love, and always proclaiming that death no longer has the final say, though its

noise remain loud and its devastation visible. The joy of Jesus lifts up life to be celebrated. (Lifesigns, pg 64)

In, Mother Teresa—Messenger of God’s Love, pg 52-53, it said:
Mother sings a hymn to joy:
“Joy is prayer Joy is strength Joy is love
Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”
“God loves a cheerful giver.”
“The best way to show our gratitude to God and the people is to accept everything with joy.”
“Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of the Risen Christ.”
“We all long for Heaven where God is, but we have it in our power to be in Heaven with him right now to be happy with him at this very moment.
But being happy with him now means: loving as he loves
helping as he helps; giving as he gives serving as he serves rescuing as he rescues
being with him 24 hours a day
touching him in his distressing disguise in the poor and suffering.
A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love. It is the gift of the Spirit, a share in the joy of Jesus, living in the soul.”

Written on 25 January 2019

Do I know that God loves me unconditionally?
I saw the Interventional Radiologist on 5 March after my C T Scan of 27/2/19. The RFA on segment III and segment V were successfully done on 17 Jan 2019. But, another 0.9 x 0.6 cm tumor (10th Liver Cancer Occurrence) has appeared high up at segment III, which is 6 mm away from the heart. The Interventional Radiologist knows that my preference is for RFA. She said it will be very challenging to do that. She is proposing to do TACE for this new tumor and the one in segment II/IVa (8th Liver Cancer Occurrence on 6 Aug 2018 at 4 mm), which remains at 1.2 x 1.05 cm since 7 Dec 2018. She will discuss with other doctors to see whether there are other better alternatives for me. She has scheduled the TACE to be done on 18 March. If there are other alternatives she will cancel the TACE procedure and I will be seeing her on 12 March. She thinks that it is not so good to be doing RFA or TACE so often. Every procedure has is pluses and minuses. She has to weigh which is best for my case. She is thorough and good. She spent about an hour advising me, in a matter of fact manner, of the risks of having to do so many procedures in the past 2 years. This time she was more empathetic. But, with the recent cases of the Singapore Medical Council charging doctors for not alerting patients of some possible risks, doctors have to practice defensive medicine to protect themselves.
I can’t help being affected by her enumerating all possible risks of going through procedures for treating cancer because it creates anxiety and fear. Good doctoring must always give hope to patients. If a doctor fails to establish trust and confidence between the doctor and patient, to me as a patient, he would have given up something precious in doctoring. Words do have their effect. I was knocked down but not knocked out. I was devastated and downcast by the probable risks

involved and my prolonged condition. I need to pick myself up!!! I need to focus on the fact that Christ loves me unconditionally so that I can have the total assurance and confidence that He is in charge, whatever the outcome.

But do I truly know that God loves me unconditionally? The great mystery of my Christian faith is that I do not choose God but that God chooses me. Long “Before I was born, the Lord chose me” and God says “I have written your name on the palms of My hands” (Psalm 49:1,16) My ability to love is “because God first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) He loves me with an unconditional love.

Henri J M Nouwen emphasized that, “From all eternity we are hidden “in the shadow of God’s hand” and “engraved on his palm.”(Isaiah 49:2,16) Before any human being touches us, God “forms us in secret” and “textures us” (Psalm 139:15) in the depth of the earth, and before any human being decides about us, God “knits us together in our mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13) God loves us before any human person can show love to us. He loves us with a “first” love, an unlimited, unconditional love, wants us to be his beloved children, and tells us to become as loving as himself.” (The Return of the Prodigal Son, pg 106)

But Henri Nouwen also said, “. . . one of the greatest temptations of a monk is to doubt God’s love.” and “the great adventure of the monk: to really believe that God loves you, even while you are aware of your
sinfulness, weaknesses, and miseries” (The Genesee Diary, Oct 27 1974).

And Henri Nouwen, himself, had his moments of doubt, “During my months of anguish, I often wondered if God is real or just a product of my imagination. I now know that while I felt completely abandoned, God didn’t leave me alone” (The Inner Voice of Love, 115).
Mother Teresa also had her doubt on the Love of God for her. The “darkness”, “loneliness”, “unwantedness” “torture,” and “unloved” that Mother Teresa experienced and described in her letters, which spanned some 50 years, showed the strength and beauty of her soul. Her untold darkness began almost immediately in 1949 or
1950 (Come Be My Light, p.1), after she started her Missionaries of Charity for the poorest of the poor. Her torment was intense, terrible and unrelenting. You can read it in “Mother Teresa—A Crisis of Faith or A Crisis of the Imagination?”
Now, if a monk or Henri Nouwen or Mother Teresa who spends full time contemplating and meditating on God, has doubts that God loves him/her; what then must a mortal like me concentrate on?

• Do I have to seek doubly hard to know that God loves me?
• Do I know in my head and especially in my heart that Christ loves me unconditionally?
• Do I faithfully trust Jesus is in charge of my life? and
• Would I have the sincerity to pray: Let me be an instrument, or a vehicle, or a channel of Your unconditional love for my spouse, family members, relatives and others?

What, then, does unconditional love means? It means love without conditions. God’s love for me does not depend on what I do or say or on my success or popularity. It

means that He loves without expecting or asking for anything in return from me. He loves me regardless of how I think or feel about Him. God is love and His love extends even towards me, the unlovely and unlovable. He chooses me to be His beloved son.

In every situation or circumstance, God seeks to enter into my mind and heart, but unfortunately, I build too many walls around my heart and so I struggle to find God, to know God, to love God and to know His presence in my trying situation. I have failed too many times. Now I wonder whether I have to change my mind-set and solve for myself the questions:
• “How am I to Let myself be found by God?” instead of “How am I to find God?”
• “How am I to Let myself be known by God?” instead of “How am I to know God?”
• “How am I to Let myself be loved by God?” instead of “How am I to love God?”

To resolve this, I have to truly understand in my heart what Jesus requires of me:
• LET Him serve me. . . “But I (Jesus) am among you as One who serves” (Luke 22:27)
• LET Him come into my heart. . . “Behold, I stand at the door (of your heart) and knock. . .” (Revelation 3:20)
• LET Him love me unconditionally. . . “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12) “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22 NKJV)

These principles are illustrated by Peter in the Gospel. Peter wanted to serve Jesus and he was extremely adamant

that Jesus should not serve him or wash his feet. Jesus told Peter, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me” (John 13:8) From this example, I need to understand with my heart that unless I let Jesus serve me, I will not be able to serve others for Him. If I want to serve others, I will have to let Jesus serve me first, in order for me to be able to serve others.
To see whether Peter understood with his heart what this means, the Bible shows me the scene at Mount Olives where Peter’s spirit was willing to stay awake for Jesus but his flesh was weak. If Peter had allowed Jesus to come into his heart, his flesh would have the power to stay awake with Jesus.
Peter was very fervent and sincere in declaring that he would never deny Jesus. He depended on his own strength and he failed. But, if Peter knew with his heart that Jesus loved him with an unconditional love, he would never have denied Jesus three times. “Before the roaster crows twice, you will deny Me three times” (Mark 14:72)
After the resurrection of Jesus, Peter finally understood with his heart that Jesus loved him unconditionally and was therefore able to die as a martyr for Jesus. When Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love Me?” Jesus was in fact asking Peter “Do you know in your heart now that I have loved you with an unconditional love?” Peter ended by saying to Jesus that “You know all things” and thus knows my heart.

What all this effectively means is that I must be still in my heart to listen to my Lord Jesus’ voice or prompting. I must be still to know You are my God and open my heart to Receive You, for Jesus has said, “ Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears My voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” (Rev 3:20)

Until I know with my heart and not my head only, that Jesus loves me with an unconditional love, I will not be able to sustain consistently the assurance and confidence that He is in charge; and I will not consistently have the love for my spouse, family members, relatives and others in the way that Jesus commands me to do: “Be compassionate just as your Heavenly Father is compassionate” (Luke 6:36) and be as loving as my Heavenly Father is loving.

It is fascinating for me to listen that beliefs, expectations or suggestions do have a placebo effect on the mind-body interaction in ”Placebo Effect from TEDTalk”, “Placebo Effect from YouTube”.

I must pray and constantly focus on the Icon of Jesus walking on the water for the miracle to happen to me.

Written on 9 March 2019

Second TACE Procedure
On 20 March I did the second TACE procedure. It went well. It was short only 2.5 hours not like 9 months ago on 25 June 2018 where it took more than 7 hours.
But for the last 2 weeks I was agitated and a bit stressed. Why? I have been doing some 17 lesions on 7 Segments of a 12 cm liver. I am being human and I’m just a person and not a robot. Although a friend gives me a very good advice, “Just be still and rest in the Lord. Don’t try to analyse your love for Christ. He will look after you. He loves you unconditionally. Trust Him. Just be with Jesus. He is sufficient. He is enough. He is everything. He will work through your oncologist.” I still have to pick myself up.

I went to my website to read up and to listen to YouTube. I found reading “The return of the Prodigal son” by Henri Nouwen and Remembering Henri Nouwen from YouTube to be very uplifting. In particular I find the following YouTube helped me overcome my anxiety:

A Painting, A Parable, and my friend, Henri Nouwen – Presented by Sue Mosteller, CSJ 237s
The Life of the Beloved (Henri Nouwen, 2011)

I came back from the hospital on 21/3/19 in the late afternoon, after they have monitored me to make sure I did not have high fever. On 22/3/19, I was having a high fever of 38.50C. I did not want to go the A & E Dept. I made sure the temperature was monitored closely and it did not go beyond that by placing cold compress on my forehead and neck. From my experience the last time I did the TACE procedure the temperature went up to 38.80C. I was taking 6 Panadol tablets per day for 3-4 days until my Interventional Radiologist told me that for my case it would do more harm than good. Just use ice pack if I can endure the high temperature.

On 23/3/19 the temperature went down to 37.70C. I will be seeing the Interventional Radiologist on 26/3/19.

Written on 23 March 2019

The Snake and the Saw
On 26/3/19, I saw the Interventional Radiologist and the Gastroenterologist, who was recommended by the Interventional Radiologist, since no one has looked at my Hepatitis B condition and my liver cirrhosis. [I was diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis B since 1987 with regular blood tests and yearly ultra sound scan. In 1999, the ultra sound scan found that the cyst has turned cancerous. My first cancer resection was done on April 1999.]
My impression is that the Interventional Radiologist is reluctant to carry on doing RFA and TACE on my liver so many times. She is looking for alternatives.
The Gastroenterologist says that every time a procedure is carried out on the liver, the liver is somewhat damaged, although the liver can rejuvenate itself. One can then die of liver failure instead of liver cancer. He proposes to do blood tests and a Oesophago-Gastro-Duodenoscopy (OGD). He wanted to find out whether I have gastric Varices and EOV and my liver cirrhosis conditions. He says that one cannot cure the liver cirrhosis but can manage it with medicines.

This set me thinking about the “Story pf the snake and the saw”, which I read sometimes below:


A snake penetrated into a carpentry workshop. As it slipped, it passed over a saw and got slightly wounded. Suddenly, it turned and bit the saw, and biting the saw, the snake seriously got wounded in its mouth!

Then not understanding what was happening and thinking that the saw was attacking “him,” it decided to roll around the saw to suffocate it with all its body by squeezing it with all its strength, but it ended up being killed by the saw!!!

Sometimes we react in anger to hurt those who have harmed us, but we realize later that after all we are hurting ourselves.

In life it is better sometimes to ignore situations, ignore people, ignore their behavior, their words.

Sometimes it is better not to react so as not to suffer consequences that can sometimes be deadly or harmful.

Do not let hate take over your life because love is stronger than anything.

*Keep Smiling and Spread Happiness * LAWS OF NATURE

…. The food we eat, has to be digested and then thrown out of body in 24 hours, else we will fall ill.

…. The water we drink, gets in our body and is thrown out in 4 hours, else we will fall ill.

…. The air we breathe, has to be thrown out in 1 minute, else we will die.

What about negative emotions like hatred, anger, jealousy, insecurity … we hold in our body for days, months and years.

If these negative emotions are not thrown out regularly it props up into psycho-somatic diseases.

And prayers are safest way to dissolve these emotions.

How do I know when not to fight anymore with my liver cancer conditions? I have 20 years of blessings. I have had a good battling with the liver cancer for 20 years. I am told that every time I do a cancer treatment for my liver, some damages are done to the liver. Although liver rejuvenate itself, it could not recover to its original state. I have 17 tumors and have done some 7 RFA, 2 TACE, 2 resections, one radio active iodine, one Y-90, one alcohol ablation on my small liver of some 10-12 cm. I may die of liver failure rather than liver cancer, if I continue with too many liver cancer procedures.
Medically speaking I am fighting something I know nothing about. How much quality time will it give me if I keep fighting as against not fighting anymore? If it is going to be a difference of one or two years, why don’t I just enjoy myself and not go on fighting? Currently for the last 2 years my life was virtually at a standstill and I was just going to see one doctor after another for every 7-10 days and spending 3-4 hours all in. I am tired and exhausted. Every doctor sees it from his siloed perspective. I must see from my quality life point of view. I am now coming to 81 years old, good enough years of living. What are my options? Yes, I will leave to Jesus to see me through but I still have my free will to decide what

to do with the doctors. I have to choose. Final choice is still my. Any input?

Written on 28 March 2019

How did the 1st miracle happen?
In 1987, I was diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis B. I had regular blood tests for hepatitis B and yearly ultra sound scan. I found that I have cyst and cirrhosis of the liver. In May 1990 I was hospitalized for jaundice. In 1995 I was again hospitalized for jaundice. This time, two private specialist doctors did endoscope on me—one from the throat down and the other an angiogram from my groin up. They found nothing wrong with my liver, but in the process they could have knick my vein and I had to stay longer in the hospital for fever.
In 1996 I retired from work.
In 1999 the ultra sound scan found that the cyst has turned into a mass. I was then referred by the Polyclinic to the specialist ward at SGH to check whether the mass in my liver has turned cancerous.
When I saw the young Registrar in SGH, he wanted to do a endoscope from my throat as well as an angiogram from my groin to see whether the mass in my liver has turned cancerous. Due to my earlier bad experience, I decided then not to carry out such invasive procedures when all they wanted to know was whether I had cancer or not. I was given to understand that, at that time, practically all liver cancer patients die within a year. Since I decided not to do anything, he scheduled me for another appointment.
At the next appointment, I saw a sympathetic registrar, she assured me that for my age, if they found that it was cancerous they could do something about. She even went to the extent of counter checking with her senior doctor, who said

that I needed to do an angiogram from my groin only. That sort of assured me it was not too invasive and I decided to go ahead. Just show how a doctor can influence a patient decision.
Looking back I must say that it was the guiding hands of God that got me to see the sympathetic doctor and put me under the good hand of this senior doctor up to today. I have 20 years of good fight with my liver cancer with all the joy, sorrow, pain and suffering it entails.
I am blessed by Jesus’ grace and mercy. But for me to be able to see my many blessings, I must know the numerous unmerited favors and countless pardon that are offered to me. And what are my blessings? Firstly, my blessing is that I know that life is not all joy and thus I do need God [many would think they are mini-god if they have all joy and health].
Secondly, that it is normal to have my fair share of sorrow, pain and suffering and I can go to my God for courage, strength and comfort.
I have no idea why I am spared. My elder brother had the same liver cancer at the same time as me and we were all sad when he died within the year after surgery. He was a kind and simple man.
If I didn’t see the sympathetic doctor and the good surgeon I would not be alive today. God works in mysterious ways. That was the 1st miracle. I do not know why I keep journaling my liver cancer experiences. Only in January 2018 did I put it into a book and an ebook form to share my experience with anyone who may be going through a health crisis to comfort him/her. I am very keen to share the strength and comfort that I find in being quiet with Jesus.

Written on 30 March 2019

Coping with crises, new normal, set-back, losses
Why am I revisiting the coping process? In a life time, there are many “new normal”, crisis, setback, brokenness, grief and losses. I thought it is useful that I summarize what I have learnt so far.
As a human being, I find that it is not unusual to run away or deny or avoid the new normal. I must not stay in the rut, wallow in self-pity and be depressed. But to heal and quickly move on in life, I have to find a procedure to cope with the crisis.

The coping processes are:

  1. Befriend my pain or my brokenness.
    What this means is that I have to name my pain and to acknowledge my brokenness. I must have the courage to embrace my brokenness and not deny it. Get acquainted and know more about my unique suffering. Yes I am in pain. I cry over my special sadness. I affirm my grief.
  2. Place my suffering under the blessing.
    If I consider it a curse, I will be negative and I will not be able to cope with the set-back. But if I choose to see it positively, I will be seeing it under the blessing. I can then see that I needed help to actively seek the equivalent benefits from the suffering. I can then be humble enough to go to my friend and my Lord to ask for help and support.
  3. Face my sadness with a significant other.
    Being human I have to pour out my unhappiness to a family member or a close friend face-to-face. I needed comfort and consolation from him. I know that he cannot help much, but I needed him to listen to my pain. The friend should not treat the out- pouring of grief as self-pity or unnecessary griping.

The friend cannot do much but can always be present. This is so vital for all of us to learn— whenever we are in the presence of loss or pain, to understand and to give—by just listening!!!

  1. Listen to the still small voice.
    Hopefully, I will listen to my heart or the still small voice or my conscience for a word or a phrase or a story. That is where I find the angel’s support and thus move to take the necessary action.
  2. Move on with living my life
    Accept the pain and quickly move on in life. Accept and don’t be depressed or stuck in a rut. Know that our life itself is the greatest gift we can give to each other—in that it is far more important for me to be who I can be for each other rather than what I can do for each other. Thus, my hope is that the fruit of my suffering would transform me to trust God more, be grateful for all of my life and be more caring, patient and gentle.
    Good for me to reread appendix 15 again.

Written on 2 April 2019

On 3/4/19 night, I talk face-to-face with my close friends about my problems. I mentioned that I find it difficult to always sustain that Jesus’ love me unconditionally and at the same time that I have been transformed to maintain my love for others. They suggested to daily surrender to Jesus for His guidance. I said that I have a mental block with the word surrender. They suggested using the equivalent word—submit, yield, give, obey, etc—to do His will for our life. Subsequently, I find that it may be better for me to use the phrase “moment

by moment” as suggested by Br. David Steindl-Rast whenever I have difficulty—to reduce it to manageable size.
My friend also mentioned about Henri Nouwen receiving the religious Nobel Prize in:
Fr. Henri Nouwen receiving the COMISS
where Nouwen mentioned that the real hero of the “flying trapeze” is the Catcher.

Written on 4 April 2019

Trust Jesus = Trust the Catcher
On 4/4/19, I did the Oesophago-Gastro-Duodenoscopy (OGD). When I was at the OGD theatre bed, my blood pressure went up to more than 200 plus mmHg. The nurse said they could not do the OGD if the blood pressure continued to be at that level. Immediately I prayed to Jesus to calm me down and to focus on the scene of the father of the prodigal son.
Since I did not want to be sedated but to be fully awake for the OGD procedure, the doctor said he would talk to me. He mentioned that I would feel the probe when it started to go down and out of the throat. I would also feel bloated when they pumped air into my stomach to view the area. The procedure took 10 -15 minutes. During that time, I was praying and focusing on Jesus and the Icon of Jesus walking on the water and the Catcher catching the flying trapeze. I hardly felt the probe. I was able to trust Jesus.
The doctor told me, after the OGD, that there is no EOV or gastric varices, Duodenum findings are normal, possible very early GAVE in the antrum or that the cirrhosis has not degenerated much since 1987. But the blood test results were fluctuating so he sent me for further blood tests:

Immunoglobulin A, G, M Anti-nuclear Antibody Smooth Muscle Antibody Anti-HEV IGG/IGM EIA
HCV RNA Qualitative Anti Liver Antibody Hepatitis E Virus PCR
I will be seeing the doctor on 16/4/19.

Written on 5 April 2019

Crucifixion, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus
Christians believe that Jesus Christ:

  1. is fully divine and fully human
  2. is resurrected from the dead (1 Cor 15:12-14 NKJV)

Being fully divine, Jesus knew the excruciating suffering and pain He had to go through with the crucifixion as a human being. He prayed to His Father so fervently at Gethsemane that He sweated drops of blood. He begged, “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.. . . O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me except I drink it, Thy will be done.” (Matt 26:39, 42 KJV)

Why did Jesus go through the crucifixion as a human being? The crucifixion showed Jesus and God’s unconditional love for us sinners in order for Jesus to put us right with God. Jesus is the propitiation for us sinners. His atoning sacrifice for our sins reconciles us with God, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV).

In all of Jesus’ miracles there were human witnesses but in the greatest miracle of all—in the resurrection—there was NO human witness. But there were three kinds of evidence at the resurrection left as witnesses. (John 10:24-30 TEV). They were:

  1. The Linen clothes ie The Shroud of Turin in Italy
  2. The cloth around Jesus face ie The Sudarium of Oviedo in Spain and
  3. The empty Tomb ie The Resurrection of Jesus

The Shroud of Turin scientifically proved, without a shadow of doubt, that the person was crucified at the 1st century, was buried and had left an image which could not be duplicated even in the 21st century. It showed the resurrection of Jesus by divine power.

You may like to watch the following YouTube:
All New Evidence Of The Shroud Of Turin

Shroud of Turin: The Face of Jesus (Gary Habermas & Bob Rucker) Nuclear Engineer, Bob Rucker, concluded that the shroud is an x-ray image of the resurrection

History of the Shroud of Turin—Barrie Schwortz

Shroud of Turin by Tim Rogers—Great summary and resurrection RFs&t=24s

Faith and Science – The Shroud of Turin – Ignited by Truth 2018

Mark Guscin – Sudarium of Oviedo
The Sudarium of Oviedo: Its History and Relationship to the Shroud of Turin

You may also like to read the articles on the resurrection of Jesus:

  1. The Empty Tomb of Jesus
  2. The Evidence for the Resurrection
  3. Was Jesus’ resurrection a hoax and His death a sham?
  4. Did Jesus Christ rise from the dead?
  5. Evidence FOR the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
  6. Was Jesus seen alive after His death on the Cross?

Jesus challenges me and you:
“As for me, the Father chose me and sent me into the world. How, then, can you say that I blaspheme because I said that I am the Son of God? Do not believe me, then, if I am not doing the things my Father wants me to do. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, you should at least believe my deeds, in order that you may know once and for all that the Father is in me and that I am in the Father.” (John 10:36-38 TEV)

From the above YouTube and articles, all the evidence point to the authenticity of the shroud that proved Jesus has resurrected from the dead and the answer to faith is in the heart of the individual. Do I believe that Jesus has resurrected from the dead? Do you believe this is possible?

Why is it important for me or you to believe in the divine work of resurrection by Jesus? If I believe, it will slowly transform me to be more like Jesus and to be able to love unconditionally. Being human I will not be able to give or sustain this unconditional love. But Jesus has promised, “I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me” (John 6:37 TEV) so if I go to Jesus, moment by moment, He will slowly transform me. He has been faithful to support, strengthen and give me hope.

Written on 15 April 2019

7 liver cancer recurrences at 11 locations since 25/5/17
On 16/4/19 I saw the Interventional Radiologist, the Gastroenterologist and the Colorectal doctor.
The colorectal doctor monitors my constipation, which is currently OK.
As for the Gastroenterologist, the following are the findings summary:
No EOV or gastric varices No Hepatitis B, C, E
Liver normal
Duodenum normal findings
Possible very early GAVE in the antrum
The cirrhosis has not degenerated much since 1987 He recommended that I take Whey Protein Isolates
for a year and see him after that.

The Interventional Radiologist said that she would do the TACE on Segment III, which she did not carry out the last time on 20/3/19 as there were too many very small tumors there. I again mentioned that I am against going for medical oncology for my liver. She said that this will be the last time for her to do the TACE and she scheduled the TACE to be done on 10/5/19, after I come back from my holiday trip in Spain. She appears to me to be reluctant to want to carry out the TACE.

I talked to my son and my nephew-in-law and they suggested I seek a second opinion. I can see that my attitude of being stubborn and stiff-neck with my old concept of not taking medicine for liver cancer could have influenced the Interventional Radiologist decision.
I decided to summarize the procedures for the last 2 years since 25/5/17.
I have 7 liver cancer recurrences at 11 locations and the following procedures were carried out:

Procedures Date done No. of Times Segments of Liver
Y-90 25/5/17 1 Segment VIII
Alcohol Ablation 25/5/17 1 Segment V
RFA 22/8/17
17/1/19 1
1 Segment V
Segment IV Segment III, V
TACE 25/6/18
20/3/19 1
1 Segments II, VIII Segment II/IVa
Coming TACE 10/5/19 1 Many small one in
Segment III

What are the benefits and risks for medical oncology? How will that affect my quality of life?
What if I decide not to carry out the coming TACE?

What are the risks if I continue to do the TACE?

Written on 17 April 2019

Unconditional Trust when we Suffer
On 22/4/19, I saw my primary doctor with the above summary; he suggested that the small growth could just be the liver rejuvenating itself. To be sure he suggested doing an MRI in August and to see me in September to confirm. He will arrange to cancel the coming TACE procedure. I think this is the best for me for the time being.

God loves me unconditionally but do I trust God unconditionally when I suffer? It is easy to trust God when He fulfills my conditions but can I unconditionally trust God? Yes, with no condition from me!!! Can I accept in my mind and my heart and to walk the talk of the following statements?

  1. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away (Job 1:21 NIV)
  2. Accept whatever He gives—and give whatever He takes with a big smile. (Mother Teresa—A Gift for God, pg 47)
  3. God has a plan for me and He is in charge of my life

In trying to find the answer to unconditional trust, I went to the Internet listening mainly to The book of Job from the Bible. I find the following YouTube to be very useful:

Job: When the Righteous Suffer – John Piper (Part 1)

Job: When the Righteous Suffer – John Piper (Part 2)

The Book of Job – Part 1/2 (Derek Prince) – Job and his accusing friends

The Book of Job – Part 2/2 (Derek Prince) – GOD challenges Job

Why Suffering? Finding Meaning in our Difficult World on Job by Ravi Zacharias 4050s

Written on 23 April 2019

Ravi Zacharias Sermons from YouTube
In my search for the meaning of suffering, I was directed to listen to Ravi Zacharias. I downloaded many of his sermons, “Ravi Zacharias Sermons from YouTube” into my website to listen closely.
Ravi Zacharias was born on 26 March 1946 in Madras, India. He was raised in India and his ancestors were Orthodox Hindu priests. In 1966, Ravi immigrated with his family to Canada. But, at the age of 17 he tried to commit suicide by drinking poison. While on his hospital bed in India, a local Christian worker brought him a Bible and this is the first time he opened the Bible and read John 14:19, “ . . because I live, you shall live also.” This brought him hope! Subsequently he committed his life to Jesus Christ. From then on, the trajectory of his life changed forever. He remembers the word of Jesus, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV).

These verses have become the cornerstone of his mission as a Christian apologist and evangelist. He is the author of numerous Christian books, including the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s Gold Medallion Book Award winner Can Man Live Without God? and Christian
bestsellers Light in the Shadow of Jihad[ and The Grand Weaver
I am fascinated by his story and his refreshing perspective in answering the numerous questions raised by his audiences from more than 70 countries, including from some of the world’s leading universities.

Written on 10 May 2019

Nabeel Qureshi Sermons from YouTube
I wanted to know something about Islam and why some Muslim individuals were converted to Christianity.
I found a quick Apologetics to Islam given by Nabeel Qureshi together with his video blog on his dying process in Nabeel Qureshi Sermons from YouTube.
Nabeel Qureshi was born on April 13, 1983 in California to Pakistani Ahmadiyya Muslim parents, who had immigrated to the United States. While debating on the historical claims of Christianity and Ahmadiyya Islam, he was converted to Christianity. He attended medical school at the Eastern Virginia Medical School. After completing a medical degree, he decided to spend his life studying and preaching the Christian Gospel and became an itinerant preacher for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.
On 30 August 2016, Nabeel announced that he had advanced stage IV stomach cancer. He died of stomach cancer on September 16, 2017, at the age of 34.

Written on 25 May 2019

Various Types of Healing

Lately I have been going to YouTube to listen to Healing Scriptures. I have summarized them into:

• Healing Scriptures in Old Testament from GNT, Good News Translation23
• Healing Scriptures in New Testament from NKJV24

I went to websites and to get the various translated versions easily.

From my experience with liver cancer so far, I have come to the following understanding on:

  1. Physical healing
  2. Emotional/psychological healing
  3. Relationship healing
  4. Spiritual healing
  5. Physical healing
    We are all very unique and special. When we go to see the doctors we look for cure for our illnesses. We also pray if we believe in God. And when we pray or ask people to pray for us, we often look forward to the physical healing. We ask for miraculous healing. But I need to understand that God is wise and He can choose, as shown in the following, to:

a] Heal immediately
According to Dr Michelle K Strydom, only 3-5% of people are healed immediately with healing ministry.

Supernatural Healing of Dodie Osteen TeE&t=1227s

b] Heal slowly
The doctors say one is medically healed if he/she is free of cancer for 5 years. After my second liver cancer surgery, I was free of liver cancer for more than 12 years but have relapsed recently.

c] Heal over a prolonged period of time
Ravi Zacharias suffered pain from back disk injury and surgery at L3, L4, L5 and was healed only after 28 years.
Belief in God Through Times of Suffering – Ravi Zacharias Q8

d] Not to heal even after a prolonged period of time Joni Eareckson Tada is still a quadriplegic for the past 50 years and has cancer on top of that recently. Cancer – Joni Eareckson Tada’s Journey l8

e] Not to heal at all—Die
Dr Nabell Quresshi had stage 4 stomach cancer and died in 13 months. He attended many healing ministries.
The Dying Process of Dr Nabell Qureshi from YouTube

I have heard some Christians putting the blame on the suffering patients for not being healed to having insufficient faith in God. To me this is cruel and bad theology.
It is interesting to read J I Parker’s comment on healing: “. . . even in New Testament times, among leaders who cannot be accused of lacking faith, healing was not universal. We know from Acts that the apostle Paul was sometimes Christ’s agent in miraculous healing, and he was himself once miraculously healed of snakebite. Yet he advises Timothy to “use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1 Timothy 5:23 RSV) and informs him that he left Trophimus “ill at Miletus” (2 Timothy 4:20 NIV). He also tells the Philippians that their messenger Epaphroditus was so sick that he “nearly died for the work of Christ” and we see how grieved Paul himself had been at the prospect of losing him (Philippians 2:25-27 NIV). Plainly, had Paul or anyone else sought power to heal these cases miraculously, he would have been disappointed.” (Cruel to imply insufficient Faith when Healing Fails)

Thus, I need to trust unconditionally and accept God’s wise choice for me in my healing process. Know that He is in- charge of my life and that He is faithful.

  1. Emotional/psychological healing
    When we are hit with pain, suffering or crisis our natural and instinctive reaction is to fight, flee or freeze. We automatically apply the instinct of survival. But if we are constantly plugged into these negative and toxic human reactions of fear, bitterness, anger, revengefulness, we will do enormous harm to our physical, mental and emotional health!

Our emotional/psychological healing takes place only if we stop for a moment to use our given free will to reflect and respond. We can choose or decide to be positive, to forgive and to love.
Mind and Spirit in Optimizing the Healing System by Dr Andrew Weil

  1. Relationship healing
    Our pain and sufferings are often due to our fractured relationship with family or friends or colleagues.
    Healing our broken relationships, according to Dr Ira Byock, comes only if we can honestly and constantly say:
    Please forgive me. I forgive you.
    Thank you.
    I love you
    Healing Words by Dr Ira Byock
  2. Spiritual healing
    God is more interested in our spiritual healing than in the other healings. We can slowly be transformed if we go to God for our spiritual healing. He has created us to love and be loved and to live life more abundantly.
    Living Life by Grace by Pablo Martinez

In view of my frequent doctor and hospital visits, I am hard pressed but not crushed. I am good. I give thanks and rejoice in the Lord for He has given and will continue to give me strength, support and comfort in all my trials.

Written on 2 August 2019

Holy Oil—Prayers by Priest
On 4/8/19 I and my wife saw the priest for an anointing of the Holy Oil for my MRI tomorrow.
The priest prayed the standard prayers:
“Father in heaven, through this holy anointing, grants James comfort in his suffering.
When he is afraid, give him courage, when afflicted, give him patience, when dejected, afford him hope, and
when alone, assure him of the support of Your holy people. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen”

“Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, by the grace of Your Holy Spirit,
cure the weakness of your servant James. Heal his sickness and forgive his sins; expel all afflictions of mind and body; mercifully restore him to full health and
enable him to resume his former duties, for You are Lord for ever and ever. Amen”

Written on 4 August 2019

Positive Attitude Reminder by Joel Osteen
Going through a long period of prolonged suffering is terrible and tough due to the many doctors and hospital visits. I find that it is not in having to see the doctor that is as much the problem for me as in the waste of time in:
Waiting for the doctor waiting to register
waiting to have the procedure done waiting to pay
waiting to get medicine

I find this waste of time stressful! I was unnecessarily anxious and disturbed by the hospital system.
I know that I am fortunate to have good doctors, my family and friends to give me support and encouragement. I know that having an attitude of gratitude is vital for seeing me through this trying period. And an attitude of gratitude is good medicine. I should not forget to be grateful that Christ has given and will continue to give me courage, support, strength, and comfort. I have even written an article on “Looking Ahead In Gratitude” some time back.
But, lately, I forget and let the frustration of the prolonged illness take over. I was hard pressed and anxious but I was not crushed. It troubled me. I told myself that I must not let this negative attitude influence my mood. I need to boost myself up and get away from being stressed. This gratitude attitude did not come instantly to mind to cheer me up. I needed to lift up my spirit and remember God’s mercy, grace and blessings for me.
Fortunately, I was directed to listen to Joel Osteen (Joel Osteen Sermons from YouTube). Initially I was against listening to him as I considered him to be a prosperity gospel preacher and I am against prosperity preaching. But I discovered if I ignore his watered-down theology, exaggerated boasting and tithing aspects, his sermons helped me.
He uses a cookie-cutter method of preaching HOPE in God. He has a positive psychological approach that is beneficial! Instead of constantly asking WHY he asks us to TRUST God. He reminds us that we are wonderfully and fearfully made by God and we are the apple of God’s eyes. God will ultimately bless us and divinely orchestrate our life. We are to do our best and ask God for help and wait for God’s favour. I find this to be very helpful.
I was feeling down and listening to his YouTube tapes helped me to bear and endure my trials much better. He

reminds me to focus on who I am in Christ21 and God’s plan for my life. He has a simplistic, practical way to get his message through to me. I can relate to it and see the positive side. He gives hope and not despair. And who am I to say that he gives a totally false hope in Christ. I am able, then, to refocus and rejoice in the Lord and His blessings for me.
Yes, I think, I am now more prepared to take whatever comes my way and to find the good there is in it so I can learn from it and share it.

Your Life is Divinely Orchestrated 2016 Joel Osteen

Joel Osteen – The Power of The Blessing

Joel Osteen – Declare Favor

Joel Osteen New 2016 Don’t Be Limited By The System

Joel Osteen – Don’t Waste Your Pain

Written on 9 August 2019

Hard Questions
My main source of comfort and healing comes from my God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Without Him I will not have the strength and endurance to get through these 20 years of suffering and the bleakness I face every now and then.
I have to ask myself some hard questions on which I have researched and compiled the answers some years back.

You can click on the links below to get the answers in my website. They are:

  1. Can the Bible be trusted?
  2. Why So Many English Bible Translations?
  3. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable by F F Bruce
  4. Are there 365 Messianic Prophecies that Jesus Christ has fulfilled?

What is the Mathematical Probability of fulfilling 48 Prophecies?

The probability of a person fulfilling just eight prophecies is one chance in one hundred million billion. That number is millions of times more than the total number of people who have ever been on our planet earth!
Peter W. Stoner2 also computed that the probability of fulfilling forty-eight prophecies was one chance in a
trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion!
Jesus Christ fulfilled more than 48 Old Testament prophecies. In fact Jesus Christ, as seen from above, fulfilled 365 messianic prophecies.
“The odds alone say it would be impossible for anyone to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies,” Lapides concluded. “Yet Jesus—–and only Jesus throughout all of history— managed to do it.” (See the article “Did Jesus and Jesus alone match the identity of the Messiah? for details in my website, under the sub-heading “Jesus Christ”)

Written on 12 August 2019

Movies on Paul and Jesus Christ from YouTube
Since we are all unique and different, every individual looking at the same scene will interpret it differently. At this stage of my journaling, I wanted to find out how people portray the two main New Testament characters—Paul and Jesus Christ. My main objective is to have a closer personal relationship with Jesus Christ and to unconditionally trust Him. I went to YouTube and downloaded these movies:

  1. Movies on Paul the Apostle in YouTube25. He wrote about 66% of the New Testament. Initially Paul was a persecutor of Christians but he saw Jesus on the road to Damascus and was converted to be an apostle.
  2. Movies on Jesus Christ in YouTube26

Hallelujah or Wise Permission
On 5 August 19, I did my MRI. It was plain sailing. It was some 4.5 months ago that I did my TACE. Wow it was such a relief—No constant hospital visit during this period.
On 15/8/19 I will be seeing my primary doctor for the
Good News
If there is no more tumor, then it is Hallelujah. I will jump for joy and thank God, family, relatives, friends, doctors and staff for all the prayers and help they have given me. It is celebration time!!!
Bad News
If the tumors persist, I have to pray for strength and courage to bear and endure for a longer period of trial and pain. I have to learn to weather the storm. I must trust that Jesus, who is wise, knows what He is permitting for me to go through. He is in-charge of my life and I need to have more confidence in Him.
Written on 13 August 2019

Happy News and Sad News
On 15/8/19, I saw my primary doctor for the results of MRI of 5/8/19. The happy news is that the many small tumors in Segment III, which were situated very near the heart, were cleared. Originally, these were scheduled for TACE on 10 May 2019 but after consultation with my primary doctor, it was then decided to cancel the TACE procedure and to monitor the tumors instead. Now, happy news—Hurray, Wow, Hallelujah—the glory belongs to the Lord—they are gone!

Unfortunately, the sad news is new small tumors appear in Segments IVA and IV A/B. MRI is scheduled for November to monitor them.
I was told that my liver is cirrhotic and I should learn to expect that small lesions may appear and some may disappear on their own.

However, for the past 4.5 months, occasionally, I felt knocked down but never knocked out. I was unsure of the possible outcome from cancer. I told myself to spring up and fight again and again. I felt much troubled sometimes but never felt abandoned by Jesus, whenever I go to Him. During the last two days, these feelings were more intense. But I was not in despair nor did I feel destroyed. Whenever I am down, I go to Jesus to ask for help in giving me courage and comfort.
I must now expect that I may have to go through a prolonged period of suffering and pain. The battle against cancer can be long. I must also ask for patience to bear and endure the unbearable prolonged suffering.
I must quickly accept that life has to go on. I will try to live life as fully as I can. I will try to help myself and others understand that we can face life’s challenges undaunted

with the help of God, competent doctors and nurses and the loving support of family, relatives and friends.

Written on 15 August 2019

Glucose Results Fasting in mmol/L

Date Glucose in mmol/L Date Glucose in mmol/L
28/7/17 6.8
31/8/17 7.1
30/11/17 11.6

    13/6/18 7.3

16/4/19 6.5
17/4/19 Start of Whey Isolate

    6/6/19  7.3
    21/8/19 7.9

     With sugar drink 2 hrs later    17.3

     4/9/19  Diabetic Nurse n Dietician

     Scheduled 11/2/20   Blood tests n Eye, Diabetic Retinopathy


On 6/6/19 I saw the NUH Heart Doctor, who observed that my glucose fasting result was high. Normal range is 3.0 –
6.0 mmol/L. He sent me on 21/8/19 for a 2 hours glucose drink to assess my glucose result. It is diabetic if is above 11.1 mmol/L after 2 hours.
On 28/8/19 I saw the NUH heart doctor and he said that I am diabetic as shown by the results above. Since I did not want to take medicine, he sent me to see the diabetic and dietician nurses to try a life style change.
As my record of practically all my medical are at the SGH, I decided to see the diabetic doctor at SGH.

Diabetes Doctor
This morning, I saw the diabetes doctor at SGH. Luckily for me, with a life-style change, eating less and weight loss, the glucose level is maintained and I don’t have to take diabetic medicine for now.
During the last 2 years, my life was virtually at a standstill and I was just going to see one doctor after another for every 7-10 days and spending 2-3 hours on many occasions. The time spent was in waiting for registration, seeing the doctor, payment, blood tests, collecting medicine, and sessions of MRI, RFA etc. Our hospital system can certainly be improved further as I was given to understand that in Taipei there isn’t too long a wait to see the doctor. For me, it was the waiting that caused the most stress and anxiety. I get tired and exhausted by the waiting.
To date, I have had 11 liver cancer recurrences, with 17 lesions in 7 segments, some recurring 2-3 times in the same segments. I have done two resections, one treatment of radioactive nuclear medicine, 7 Radio Frequency Ablations (RFA), one alcohol ablation, one insertion of nuclear medicine Y-90 and 2 TACE (Transarterial Chemoembolization), and

numerous MRI and CT Scans. I was told that I could die of liver failure rather than liver cancer, with so many procedures done!
I notice that with so many procedures done to my small liver of some 10 cm, the after-effect is that I also have problems with constipation, colon, chest, chronic cough, dental tooth and gum, and lately diabetes. I also did the Oesophago- Gastro-Duodenoscopy (OGD) and the following are the findings:
No EOV or gastric varices No Hepatitis B, C, E
Liver normal
Duodenum normal findings
Possible very early GAVE in the antrum
The cirrhosis has not degenerated much since 1987

Are these all related? I don’t know.
But I can safely say that with God, family, competent doctors and modern medical advances, I am blessed to be still alive after battling liver cancer for more than 20 years.

Written on 24 September 2019

Type 2 Diabetes
My Objective
I was over weight and obese with obvious belly fat. My fasting glucose levels were higher than normal, every now and then, but no doctor sent me for a check-up to see whether I am diabetic until recently my cardiologist said it is good to check for diabetes. My fasting glucose was 7.9 and after 2 hours of sugar drink became 17.3 mmol/L. The normal fasting level is 3.0 – 6.0 and after 2 hours should not exceed
4.0 – 7.7 mmol/L. He told me that I was not pre-diabetic but has been having Type 2 Diabetes for some time already.

I can only assume that most doctors are not fully aware of Type 2 Diabetes or they do not see it as their responsibility to warn the patient about it. They are very up-to-date with their own specialization.
Type 2 Diabetes is a very serious long-term disease. The reason why I went to the internet to learn more about Type 2 Diabetes was because 2 of my university colleagues were blinded by the disease, one has his leg amputated and another is on kidney dialysis.
From what I have learnt anyone who is obese with belly fat and over weight should check for Type 2 Diabetes. It is such a simple test—take the glucose test and drink the sugar water, wait for 2 hours and test for sugar level again. It is good to make sure that one does not have Type 2 Diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes and obesity have reached an epidemic proportion in the world. WHO has stated that worldwide the prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016.
The foods we eat are carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Carbohydrates when digested are converted into sugars. Glucose a component of sugars, together with fat, is the main source of energy for the cells.
Type 2 Diabetes is a condition that affects the way our body metabolizes glucose. With type 2 diabetes, our body either resists the effective functioning of insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain normal glucose level.
In other words, Type 2 Diabetes develops when the body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin. Exactly why this happens is unknown.

The Pancreas secretes insulin
Insulin is a hormone that is secreted from the pancreas.
The moment we eat, the pancreas secretes insulin into the bloodstream to lower the amount of glucose in our bloodstream. The flow of insulin enables glucose to enter into the cells of the body.
In type 2 diabetes, instead of moving glucose into our cells, the glucose builds up in our bloodstream. As blood sugar levels increase, the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas release more insulin but eventually these cells in the pancreas become impaired and can’t make enough insulin to meet the body’s demands. When the glucose cannot enter into the cells, it is converted into fats to be stored in the body.
When we eat frequently, by snacking, our pancreas keeps producing insulin. Frequent eating produces more insulin. More insulin metabolizes the glucose into fat and more fat is thus stored in the body; the more stored fat, the more obese, particularly around the belly.

The Liver stores and makes glucose
Glucose comes from two major sources: food and our


Our liver stores and turns sugar into glucose.
The liver breaks down the stored glycogen into glucose

to keep our glucose level within a normal range.
When we fast or have not eaten for a while, our body starts to burn the stored fats and glucose.
If we don’t eat, our body will simply “eat” its own glucose and stored fats for energy.

The Body exists in 2 states
Very broadly, the body exists in two states:

  1. The feeding state—when the excess carbohydrates we eat are converted into fats and are stored to be used later and
  2. The fasting state—where the stored fats are being burned as fuel and for growth.

Complications of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes can be easy to ignore, especially in the early stages when we are feeling fine. But diabetes affects many major organs, including our heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Controlling our blood sugar level can help prevent many complications.
Although long-term complications of diabetes develop gradually, they can eventually be disabling or even life- threatening. Some of the potential complications of diabetes include:
• Heart and blood vessel disease. Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and narrowing of blood vessels (atherosclerosis).
• Kidney damage. Diabetes can sometimes lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
• Eye damage. Diabetes increases the risk of serious eye diseases, such as cataract and glaucoma, and may damage the blood vessels of the retina, potentially leading to blindness.
• Slow healing. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can become serious infections, which may heal poorly. Severe damage might require toe, foot or leg amputation.

• Nerve damage (neuropathy). Excess sugar can cause tingling, numbness, burning or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and gradually spreads upward. Eventually, you may lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs. Damage to the nerves that control digestion can cause problems with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. For men, erectile dysfunction may be an issue.
• Hearing impairment. Hearing problems are more common in people with diabetes.
• Skin conditions. Diabetes may leave you more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections.
• Sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is common in people with type 2 diabetes. Obesity may be the main contributing factor to both conditions. Treating sleep apnea may lower your blood pressure and make you feel more rested but it’s not clear whether it helps improve blood sugar control.
• Alzheimer’s disease. Type 2 diabetes seems to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, though it’s not clear why. The worse your blood sugar control, the greater the risk appears to be.
• Cancer. Cancer cell has a high craving for sugars. WHO states that some cancers (including endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon) could be the consequence of diabetes. Does consuming excess sugar cause cancer recurrences?

Current Treatments for Type 2 Diabetes

  1. Medicines
    • Metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza, others).
    • Sulfonylureas. These medications help your body secrete more insulin. Examples include glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase), glipizide (Glucotrol) and glimepiride (Amaryl).
    • Meglitinides. These medications — such as repaglinide (Prandin) and nateglinide (Starlix) — work like sulfonylureas by stimulating the pancreas to secrete more insulin, but they’re faster acting, and the duration of their effect in the body is shorter.
    • Thiazolidinediones. Like metformin, these medications
    — including rosiglitazone (Avandia) and pioglitazone (Actos) — make the body’s tissues more sensitive to insulin.
    • DPP-4 inhibitors. These medications — sitagliptin (Januvia), saxagliptin (Onglyza) and linagliptin (Tradjenta) — help reduce blood sugar levels, but tend to have a very modest effect.
    • GLP-1 receptor agonists. These injectable medications slow digestion and help lower blood sugar levels.
    • Exenatide (Byetta, Bydureon), liraglutide (Victoza) and semaglutide (Ozempic) are examples of GLP-1 receptor agonists. Recent research has shown that liraglutide and semaglutide may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in people at high risk of those conditions.
    • SGLT2 inhibitors. These drugs prevent the kidneys from reabsorbing sugar into the blood. Examples include canagliflozin (Invokana), dapagliflozin (Farxiga) and empagliflozin (Jardiance).
    • Insulin. Some people who have type 2 diabetes need insulin therapy. In the past, insulin therapy was used as

a last resort, but today it’s often prescribed sooner because of its benefits. Low blood sugar,hypoglycemia, is a possible side effect of insulin.
• Often, people with type 2 diabetes start using insulin with one long-acting shot at night, such as insulin glargine (Lantus) or insulin detemir (Levemir).
• In addition to diabetes medications, doctors might prescribe low-dose aspirin therapy as well as blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medications to help prevent heart and blood vessel disease.

  1. Bariatric surgery – to reduce the size of your stomach to a small pouch.
    There are 4 types of minimally invasive bariatric surgery:
    • Gastric balloon involves placing a balloon filled with a saline solution in your stomach using an endoscope.
    • Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) is used to manage morbid obesity. This surgery involves reducing the size of your stomach by placing a silicone band around the upper end of the stomach.
    • Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG) is used to permanently reduce the size of your stomach to about 25% its original size, which then becomes like a sleeve or a tube.
    • Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (LRYGB) is the most complex bariatric surgery. It is used to reduce the size of your stomach to a small pouch by clipping off a section of it.
  2. Liposuction Surgery
    Where fat cells are sucked out of the body by a cannula connected to a suction device. Liposuction’s main purpose is to remove fats via suction.
  3. Changes in lifestyle include:
    Lifestyle changes can slow or stop the progression
    or cure Type 2 Diabetes.
    • Eating healthy foods. Choose low carbohydrate high fat diet (LCHF). Avoid sweet fruits, starchy vegetables, whole grains and refined flour.
    • Getting active. Aim for a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days. Take a brisk daily walk. Ride a bike. Swim laps. If we can’t fit in a long workout, spread our activity throughout the day.
    • Losing weight. Losing 5 to 10 percent of our body weight can reduce the risk of diabetes. To keep our weight in a healthy range, focus on permanent changes to our eating and exercise habits. Motivate ourselves by remembering the benefits of losing weight, such as a healthier heart, more energy and improved self-esteem.
    • Avoiding being sedentary for long periods. Sitting still for long periods can increase our risk of type 2 diabetes. Try to get up every 30 minutes and move around for at least a few minutes.
    • Enough sleep – minimum 7 hours sleep
    • Avoid Cigarette Smoking
    • Reduce Alcohol Consumption
    • Reduce Stress by TM, Yoga, Taichi or dancing.
    • Attitude of gratitude—Give thanks more.
    • Forgive more —I forgive you. Please forgive me
    • Love more—Kindness, Compassion, Patience
    • Service to others—Help others in need
  4. Eat Less and Intermittent fasting
    I am obese and have Type 2 Diabetes but I am not in favor of surgery or medicine. Therefore, I decided to try to lose weight and cut down my belly fat by eating less and with intermittent fasting. I am doing this after I went to the Internet and read and listened to the following:

Dr Jason Fung on Intermittent Fasting
Dr Jason Fung How to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Dr Michael Mosley on Type 2 Diabetes from
Dr Dean Ornish on Reversing Chronic Disease with Lifestyle
Dr Neal Barnard on New Approach to Type 2 Diabetes from YouTube
Dr Aseem Malholtra on Dietary Changes and Heart Disease from YouTube
Dr Nadia Mir Ali on Optima Diet for Humans Dr Mark Hyman with Functional Medicine Dr Danielle Berlardo on Nutrition Round
Dr Eric Berg on Myth about Blood Sugar and Diabetes from YouTube
Dr Roy Taylor on Type 2 Diabetes from YouTube Dr Eric Westman on Low Carb and High Fat Diet Dr Sten Ekberg on Keto Food Guide from YouTube Dr Lewis Cantley on Cancer, Obesity, Diabetes Diet Doctor Podcast with Dr. Bret Scher
Dr David Diamond on Deception in Cholesterol Research and Saturated Fat
Dr Paul Mason on Diet from YouTube
Dr Mark Hyman on What the Heck You Should Eat

My Weight Loss Results
On 4/9/19, I saw the diabetic and dietician nurses. My weight was 73.2 kg and I started to eat less and according to the dietician planned diet.
On 24/9/19 I saw the diabetes doctor at SGH and my weight was 71.3 kg.
On 17/10/19, I started to do intermittent fasting by not taking breakfast. My weight on the morning of 18/10/19 was 68.9 kg a loss of 4.3 kg for the planned diet of 44 days.
On 25/10/19 my weight came down to 65.2 kg. In 7 days and with a 18:6 hours fast, my weight went down by
3.7 kg.
I use Accu-Chek to prick my finger for blood sample to monitor and LibreLink patch to monitor my glucose level continuously for 24 hours for 2 weeks every now and then. My glucose level was within the normal range of 4 – 10 mmol/L.

Written on 25 October 2019

My Flexible 80/20 Eating Rules are:
All plant food that can be consumed by human is carbohydrate food.
Carbohydrate food is any food that when digested is converted into sugar. However, there are many types of sugar. They are:

  1. Single sugar component
    a) Glucose—This can be metabolized by any cell
    and is the main source of energy together with fat.
    b) Fructose—This can only be metabolized by the liver cell. Fructose comes from many fruits, honey, berries and most root vegetables. (

c) Galactose—This is a component of milk sugar lactose and is found in plant cell membranes and in many tissues.

  1. Two sugar combinations
    a) Sucrose is a combination of glucose and fructose
    b) Lactose is a combination of glucose and galactose
    c) Maltose is a combination of two glucoses
  2. Multi-sugar combinations in the form of fiber that is digestible
    a) Glycogen in animal meat
    b) Starch in plant, grains, rice, Basmati rice, root vegetables
  3. Multi-sugar combinations in the form of fiber that is indigestible
    a) Soluble such as beans, nuts, oats, oat bran, rice bran, legume, barley, citrus fruits, apple, strawberries, peas, potatoes
    b) Insoluble such as wheat bran, husk, whole grains, cereal seeds, skins of many fruits and vegetables.

Wikipedia states the following: Blood sugar level “of
75 kg with a blood volume of 5 liters, a blood glucose level of
5.5 mmol/L (100 mg/dL) amounts to 5g, equivalent to
about a teaspoonful of sugar.”

I find it difficult to grasp what glycemic index or calories or grams of the food that I eat means. It is much easier and faster for me to understand it when it is calculated as equivalent to teaspoonfuls of sugar. For example, see How many teaspoons of sugar are in your food? By Dr David Unwin.

Food Equivalent teaspoonfuls of sugar
150gm Brown Rice 10.1
150gm White Rice 9.1
French Fries 7.5
Small Baked Potato 6 to 8
Spaghetti 6.6
Banana 5.7
Whole Grain Barley 5.5
Sweet Corn 4.0
Rye 4.0
White Bread 3.7
Brown Bread 3.3
Oatmeal 3.3
Apple 2.3
Pear 1.3

When we are healthy the food we consume are metabolized well and we have no health issues. But when we eat too much carbohydrate and snack too often, then our

body doesn’t metabolize the food properly. Firstly, the excess fructose in the liver cannot be converted into energy but becomes fat to be stored as fat in the liver, giving rise to fatty liver. Secondly, the cells in the body cannot absorb the excess glucose in the blood stream and these are then converted into fat to be stored all over the body. We become obese, over weight and develop a belly. We thus become unhealthy.
I have fatty liver, type 2 diabetes, liver cancer, cirrhosis, chronic dry cough, hypothyroid, hyper-tension, belly fat, gum and teeth problems, sleep apnea and constipation. Having listened to the many videos in my Type 2 Diabetes article, I believe that many of these diseases could be caused by lifestyle and diet. But there are too many diets to be considered and they tend to be confusing.

I want to burn the fat in my liver and belly and to lose weight, so I decide to go for intermittent fasting and low carbohydrate and high fat diet (LCHF diet). See , and

I have simplified the diet for me to focus on.
My Flexible 80/20 Eating Rules are:
1) Fructose—Avoid fructose from corn syrup. Don’t take sweet fruits. Take avocado, green kiwi, star fruit, sour-sop, dragon fruit, custard apple and guava. I took a small cup of papaya and in 15 to 40 to 60 minutes the glucose level went up from 4.2 to 5.8 and level at 4.9 mmol/L .
2) Sugar—Avoid all processed or refined sugar, table sugar, cereal, canned fruits, carbonated drinks, fruit juices, glazed meats, sausages,

ketchup, creamy dressings, muffins, cakes, candy, jams, ice-scream, and desserts.
3) Starch—Avoid potatoes, sweet potatoes, white rice, cassava, tapioca, yam, corn, wheat, maize, root vegetables.
4) Simple carbohydrates—Avoid processed food based on flour, such as bread, pizza, pasta, chips, cookies, biscuits, dough-nuts and noodles.
5) Oil—Avoid all hydrogenated vegetable oil except extra virgin olive oil and organic coconut oil. Avoid deep fried foods.
6) Fat—Take in moderation meat, fish, seafood, chicken, turkey, tallow, lard, butter, ghee, cheese, eggs, avocado,
Raw nuts like macadamia, pecan, walnut,
Seeds like flax, chai, hemp and pumpkin.
Green leafy vegetables like Swiss chards, baby spinach, arugula, kale, lettuce, bok choy, collards, parsley, cilantro, collard greens
Non-starchy fibrous vegetables like olives, broccoli, peppers, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, mushroom, okra, zucchini, tomatoes,
Bitter vegetables like bitter gourd, mustard green, asparagus.

Understand that our bodies are dynamic and we react differently to the food we consume at different times and from one another. What is OK at one period may not be OK at another. And what is alright for one person may not be all right for another. We should thus experiment and adjust to the carbohydrate and fruits that suit us at that particular period.

Written on 15 November 2019

10th MRI Results
I did my 10th MRI on 19/11/19 and saw the doctor on 29/11/19. The doctor mentioned that one tumor remained the same at 3.5 x 2 cm and another has increased slightly in size from 1.5 x 1 to 2 x 1.7 cm. But there are also multiples minor tumors. No new tumor was observed.
He decided to monitor the situation and proposed to do MRI in 6 months’ time.
I am happy with the MRI result in that there is no new tumor. Since I know recently that cancer cells crave and thrive on sugar, I have consciously avoided taking sugar and starchy carbohydrates. I wonder whether this no new tumor could be due to me eating according to My Flexible 80/20 Eating Rule? Wouldn’t it be interesting to experiment and observe what will happen to the cancer in 6 months’ time when I deliberately follow my 80/20 Eating Rule?
Hopefully the 6 months MRI result will be good!
Written on 30 November 2019

Various Procedures Done Over Last 2 Years
Date Segments (Sg) Sizes (cm) Results
1 25/5/17 8
5 6.3 x 5.1
0.9 Y-90 was proposed
to shrink Sg 8
2 09/6/17
5 6.3 x 5.1
0.9 Sg 8 was 6.3 x 5.1 Sg 5 Alcohol Ablation
3 14/6/17
SIRT SIRT was introduced to embolize the vessels to guts and
lungs for Y-90
4 21/06/17
Y-90 8 6.3 x 5.1 Y-90 and nuclear med were introduced
5 21/7/17
5 Sg 5 increased from
0.9 to 1.5

6 22/8/17

5 5.0 x 4.1 Sg 8 shrunk to 5.0×4.1
Sg 5 cleared by RFA
7 20/10/17

4 New 5.2 x 3.8

1.1 Sg 8 shrunk to 5.2×3.8
8 21/11/17 4 1.1 Sg 4 cleared by RFA
9 15/1/18
MRI 8 4.1 x 2.8 Sg 8 shrunk to 4.1×2.8
10 17/5/18
2 New

3 New

5 New 2.1 x 1.1
1.3 and 3mm 5mm not sure
3mm appeared Sg 8 shrunk to 2.1×1.1
11 25/6/18
1st TACE 8
2 TACE was done on
Sg 8 and 2
12 6/8/18

4a New MRI showed Sg 8 n 2 successfully done
Sg 5 increased to 6mm
Sg 4a tumor occurred
13 7/12/18
CT Scan 3 New 4a
5 1.0 Sg 3 New tumor appeared
Sg 4a increased to 1.2
Sg 5 increased to 1.1
14 17/1/19
CT Scan 3
5 RFA were successfully done on
Sg 3 and 5
15 27/2/19
CT Scan 3 high New 1.9 x 0.6 New tumor

16 20/3/19
2nd TACE 2/4a Second TACE was successfully done
17 10/5/19
3rd TACE
Cancelled 3 New Many small tumors This third scheduled TACE was cancelled on 22/4/19 as small
growth could be liver rejuvenating itself
18 5/8/19

4a New 4a/b New
New small tumors MRI showed Sg 3 cleared by itself. Unfortunately many small tumors
19 19/11/19 2 3.5 x 2 Same size
MRI 2 1.5 x 1 Increased to 2×1.7
Many small tumors
No new tumor
20 29/5/20
MRI Scheduled

For every procedure above, I have to see the liver doctors at least one or two more times. In addition, I have to see various other doctors for I have type 2 diabetes, Lung doctor for chronic dry cough, hypothyroid, hyper-tension, gum and teeth problems, sleep apnea, colorectal doctor for my constipation, gastroenterologist for Hepatitis B, C, E and gastric varices. In all it was a very trying period visiting and waiting at the hospitals!!!
How did I survive? I can safely say that I was sustained and supported by Jesus, family, friends and medical staff.
What is the legacy I hope to leave behind? For everyone to fully understand with their heart and mind that FORGIVENESS must come before HEALING and LOVE.

Written on 1 December 2019

Before all the above procedures, I did not have any constipation problem at all. In fact I discharged regularly at least twice a day. During this period, I was having constipation problem every week or so and the colorectal doctor did a colonoscopy. The procedure revealed no abnormality. He prescribed probiotic “Vivomixx” and taking “Lactus” to pass the stool. But I was still having the same great problem passing stool. The pain and strain was so bad that it gave me more trouble than my liver cancer. Sometimes the straining was as difficult as a woman giving birth!
My son’s GP suggested using “Forlax”. The same medicine used to clear the bowel for colonoscopy (Fortrans) but in lower dose. This “Forlax” appears to give me better relief for my constipation.
I went to the Internet to listen and downloaded
Constipation from YouTube

Written on 2 December 2019

I lost 13.0 kg following My Flexible 80/20 Eating Rule I was over weight and obese with obvious belly
fat for many years. I had Type 2 Diabetes.
I have been taking my full blood tests yearly for more than 30 years. The doctors’ focus was on my liver, thyroid and cholesterol although quite often my fasting glucose level was above the normal range of 3.0 – 6.0 mmol/L. Yet, no doctor has alerted me to test for diabetic until my cardiac doctor on 13/6/19 sent me for diabetic test on 21/8/19.
On 28/8/19 the cardiac doctor said that I have been having Type 2 Diabetes for some time already as my 2 hours glucose drink result was 17.3 mmol/L. A person having a result that is above 11.1 mmol/L is considered diabetic.

Since I did not want to take medicine, he sent me to see the diabetic and the dietician nurses on 4/9/19. My weight then was 73.2 kg and I started to eat less and according to the dietician planned diet.
I began to research by listening and reading voraciously on what causes Type 2 Diabetes and the current cure for it.

On 17/10/19, I started to do intermittent fasting
by not taking breakfast. My weight then was 68.9 kg.
I wanted to burn the fat in my liver and belly and to lose weight further. I decide to go for intermittent fasting and started to do My Flexible 80/20 Eating Rule.
On 17/11/19 my weight came down to 62.0 kg.
On 4/12/19 and in 3 months my weight has come down to 60.2 kg, A loss of 13.0 kg (28.6 lbs).
I use Accu-Chek to prick my finger for glucose level and LibreLink patch to monitor my glucose level continuously for 24 hours for 2 weeks every now and then. My average glucose level is now within the normal range of 4 – 10 mmol/L. My estimated HgA1c is 4.9 % (30 mmol/mol). I no longer have Type 2 Diabetes according to the glucose level tests!!!

I have proven to myself that I can lose weight and I no longer have Type 2 Diabetes now. Why I am able to sustain and keep up with my My Flexible 80/20 Eating Rule is because it is extremely simple. All I do is:

  1. Avoid or minimize my intake on sugar (ie items 1 to 5 of my 80/20 Eating Rule). See the reason in Sugar and Health from YouTube and
  2. Consume a larger quantity of Fat. (ie item 6 of my 80/20 Eating Rule, a LCHF Diet).

Written on 4 December 2019

Appendix 1.

1st Liver Cancer Operation Experience

I) Introduction

Before I had my operation, I surfed the web for news about liver cancer. Practically every liver cancer patient died within a year or two. I also consulted about my cancer operation and was told that in the scale of operation, appendicitis is at one end, open heart surgery in the middle and liver cancer operation the other extreme. It is not a simple case but with good surgeon it will be not much of a problem.
What is more important is post operation care. I must Not get pneumonia. That is the killer in most cases. Don’t be worried about cold and cough germs in the air but do not come in close contact with people who have cold and cough. I was to tell the doctor everything that I do not feel good about. Don’t be shy or try to take it, when I am at the ICU. What I can do to help myself is to not to pamper myself but to force myself to walk and to breathe deeply. I would feel like being run over by a truck.

II) Brief notes on my stay in SGH’S hospital (11 April 99 to 23 April 99)

1) Day 1 (Sunday 11/4/99 my day start from 7am to next day 7am)
Admitted to SGH for liver cancer operation. Given enema to clear my bowel. Went to toilet often. Slept well in the night.

2) Day 2 (Monday)
There were 5 operations for the Liver Surgeon that day but two of the patients opted out. I was scheduled for the afternoon operation. Went to the operation theater at 2pm. Was wheeled down late and the Anesthetist scolded the people who wheeled me down. But another wheeler answered back that they were also working. This is Not too good. The Anesthetist was angry but he did a fast and good job for me by inserting an Epidural needle at my back, intravenous catheters on my throat and my hand. Was taken in to the operation theatre at 2.30pm. Was operated on from then to 7pm. There were some complicated sections to remove. Sections 6, 7 and 1B of my liver were removed. Taken to the ICU ward. I slept well and did not feel a thing that night.

Day 3 (Tuesday)
Was transferred to HDA (high dependency area). Was put next to the windows but it was too hot for me as I had fever. Asked to be moved away from the window. At 12 midnight I felt pain and call the doctor he increased my morphine dosage from 5 ml to 7 ml/hour. Slept till 3am. Could not stand the pain, called the doctor again and he further increased my morphine to 10 ml. Slept till 5am.

Day 4 (Wednesday)
Felt extremely painful in the morning. Called the doctor but no one came until they took out my Epidural at noon. Then a new Anesthetist installed a pump for me to control my pain. It was set at 12ml/hour.If I try to pump more than 1ml in 5 minutes, it did not work until after 5 minutes. The limit was set at 1 ml for every 5 minutes. Doctor advised not to be afraid to pump if I felt pain. I would not be over dosed and there is no danger of complication.

Because there was a crisis, in that a lorry has overturned and 15 people were seriously injured, every one of us was transferred to another section of the HDA. The place was so cramped that one could virtually touch the other patient feet, if not for the corridor. There were two old men, one in front of me the other on my left. The one in front made so much noise by pulling his catheter out every time his hands were untied in the night. He just wanted attention. The other whined most of the time. I could not sleep the whole night through because of them. I was totally knocked out. My head was groggy and I could not connect. I felt very sick and totally exhausted. I asked to be transferred out the next morning. I could not stand another night without sleep and I knew that I would be in a very bad shape if not transferred out from these two patients. The Liver Surgeon saw me in the morning and I told him that I did not sleep the whole night because of the two patients’ noise. He promised to take me out in the evening.

Day 5 (Thursday)
At around 2pm I saw the ward doctor and told him that I wanted to be certain that there was a bed for me when I would be transferred in the evening. I asked him to check and report back to me. He felt insulted by me telling him to report back. I made a mistake by saying “report”, when I meant to “inform” me after he had checked. He told me they are professional here in the hospital and I told him I just wanted to be sure. He told the Sister and a nurse was sent to tell me that there was no class A1 bed available and that I had to upgrade to class A1 Plus bed. I thought that this meant that I would have to pay for everything in my hospital stay at expatriate prices. Very much more than A1 class. I was desperate to move out and since I have to have some sleep that night I agreed. I knew that if I did not move out I would really be in a very bad shape. The nurse came back and asked me to sign that I wanted to

upgrade. I told her that she could go ahead and upgrade me but if they wanted me to sign then I have to put in my reasons why. I told her to check. The Sister came with her staff and told me I have to sign otherwise they could not transfer me. I told her that I will sign but I have to put my reasons why. She said I cannot and I told her that was not reasonable. I told her that the Liver Surgeon promised me in the morning that I would be transferred out. I told her I didn’t mind to be put in class B ward and then transfer to class A1 bed the next day as I have to be transferred out so that I can sleep that night. She said that in that case I will be given a bed if the Liver Surgeon said that I can be transferred out. I thanked her and said that was fair. Suddenly, she changed her mind and told me that even if the Liver Surgeon agreed to transfer me out there was no class A1 bed available as she has checked with the Business Administration, so I still have to sign to upgrade to A1 Plus. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I felt so shorted up, robbed, mugged, bushwhacked that I suddenly burst out crying. I was in so much trauma and pain that I felt that I was dying. The Sister did not know what to do and she went out and told the Business Administrator. The next minute I was given my bill to top up. The Business Administration person came and saw me and wanted me to sign. I told her that this is stupid and unreasonable as I am still in the hospital and I cannot run away. I was so emotionally traumatized that I did not stop crying. She felt bad and promised me that I will be charged class A1 fee but I would be upgraded for the night to class A1 Plus. I thanked her. She went out and lectured the nurse about post surgery trauma. The irony was that she turned the table round and blamed the nurses for not treating me properly!!!! She caused it in the first place. She wanted to make sure that there was no bad debt in the hospital and that was what she did. Make sure the patient sign and after that the patient cannot say that he did not know. This is a crazy policy

for any business–No bad debt at any cost. The rest of the action will follow automatically after that faulty policy decision. I can see it all. It is not their faults. It is the implementation of a faulty policy. Every one from the doctor, to the nurses, Sister and the Business Administrator have to protect themselves and in protecting themselves there will be gaps in between for patients to fall in. The doctor sees that his job is done the moment he informed the Sister, the Sister sees her job as done the moment she checked with Business Arbitrator that there was no bed and asked that I sign to upgrade and the Business Administrator makes sure that the patient sign for any change. Policy dictates actions but the hospital policy must always be to look after the patient first not to make sure that there is no bad debt at all. Any business will have some bad debt and once one accepts that then there is room for the staff to use their initiative to suit the circumstance.
I was still crying when the Liver Surgeon came around 6pm and asked why and I could only briefly tell him that they could not find me a bed. He told me not to worry. He will see to it that I get a bed so that I can sleep properly. I thanked him and he came back to tell me that only class A1 Plus was available. I told him ok. A moment later the Sister came and told me that they have found me a class A1 bed in ward 58. Leng came and accompanied me to ward 58 and I was able to sleep that night.

Day 6 (Friday)
In the morning I was attended by a nurse, who had cough and cold and she coughed in my face. I made a request that no one who has a cold or cough should attend to me as I just had a major liver operation and was vulnerable to pneumonia. This note was put into my file.
Leng rang me from home and we had a good chat and she understood why I was so emotionally upset. In the night I

found that whenever the throat disturbed me, I started to cough and in the process the spasm occurred. Once the spasm started, it was terrible for me. I would be in tremendous pain.
The pain killer pump was working so well that I was hallucinating. I was lying in a room with vaulted ceiling and dead reeds hanging down from the ceiling. I also saw grotesque figures floating around whenever I close my eyes. The moment my eyes were opened I saw myself in my hospital bed.

Day 7 (Saturday)
Leng was called down in the morning to the Business Administrator to pay up the same top-up bill. She blew up on them and told them off. The Manager has to come out of his office and heard her out burst at the clerk. He apologized for their insensitivity and wanted to come up my room to apologies to me. Leng told him not to upset me.
In the middle of the night I had the same spasm. It always started with an irritation on the throat, then coughing, and then spasm and fever. This time round it was so bad that every time I had spasm I felt that some one is pressing down my chest and that I couldn’t breathe. Called the doctor and he give me a sleeping pill (Dormicum) to put me to sleep with the oxygen on my nose. Meanwhile, Leng was so worried that she paced the floor from 12am to 4am and raise high heaven with the nurses that she wanted to call the Registrar or the Liver Surgeon. The nurses told her that no one would come on the weekend. Anyway the ward doctor had attended to me already. She prayed.

Day 8 (Sunday)
The Liver Surgeon came on the Sunday morning and ordered that all my tube to my stomach, the blood drain tube and all the intravenous catheters be removed. He also said that

if there was no more fever I could go home on Tuesday morning. I felt good the whole day and was looking forward to going home. Unfortunately, in the middle of the night I cough and got spasm and fever.

Day 9 Monday)
The same nurse who had cold and cough came into my room and told her colleges that she had two days off for influenza.
I felt good for the whole day but in the middle of the night I had fever and they got me to stay the night.

Day 10 (Tuesday)
The same nurse who had influenza still attended to me.
The day I was supposed to go back home but in the night from 12am to 4am I was having very high fever. It usually started with some irritation on the throat, then I coughed and then I got spasm and high fever of over 400C. In the morning the Liver Surgeon came and ordered all the tests to find out the source of the fever. I had blood count, liver function tests, urine tests, ECG, x-ray and CT Scan.
Around 7-8pm an assistant surgeon was sent by the Liver Surgeon to assure me that I did not have abscess in my liver and that the liver was all clear. He told me that I had lung infection and that was the source of my fever. They put me on intravenous catheter and pumped in antibiotics like Ciprobay, Gentamycin and Flagel one after the other to stabilise the fever. That night I was able to prevent my cough after the advice from my relative(see below for details).What I noticed was that the moment the throat irritation came and if I breathed hard and deep I was able to prevent the cough from coming and thereafter the spasm from taking place. Most of the time I was able to do that.

Day 11 (Wednesday)
In the morning I felt good. The Ward Sister came to see Leng and I and we told her about the nurse who has influenza is still attending to me. She said that all the patients are post operative cases in the ward. We told her that she had to prioritise, For a lot of cases it does not matter that the nurses are having influenza but for serious cases like mine it will have serious consequences if I get pneumonia. She agreed and she put a note in my file that no one who has cough or cold should hand me my thermometer, food, straw, urinal, etc and they are not to enter my room.
At around 4pm a Lung Specialist came to see me. I told her what I could do to prevent my spasm. She listened and advised me to continue deep breathing. She told me that I had a minor pneumonia. I asked her what is pneumonia and she said it was a lung infection. She also told me that she would recommend that my intravenous catheter be taken out and that I be given oral medicine. I slept reasonably well in the night.

Day 12 (Thursday)
I told Leng that my body felt that I was given too much medicine. I told the doctor in the morning that the Lung Specialist has recommended that the intravenous catheter be taken out. The doctor checked with the Liver Surgeon and in the afternoon my intravenous catheter was taken out and I was given only Ciprobay. Since I was able to prevent the cough I felt good and slept well.

Day 13 (Friday 23/4/99)
The Liver Surgeon saw me in the morning and I asked him when can I go back home. He said that it can be this morning or the next day as they would like to monitor me for another day. Leng agreed. I felt good and did not want to stay another day so I convinced Leng to go and talk to the Liver

Surgeon to release me that morning. The nurses and doctor told Leng they could not contact the Liver Surgeon. I told her to try the Sister of the ward. The Sister came in much later and I was able to convince her that I am well. She rang the Liver Surgeon and I was discharged at around 12.30pm.

III) The Movie experience
Lying in the hospital, I saw the movie “The Preacher’s Wife “[the last part only] and it touched me very emotionally. I have seen the picture before and it did not mean much to me then, but this time round, I was moved by it. Tears came to my eyes and I was choked up. What was it that touched me? Why was I so affected by the movie? I didn’t know but I felt that there were messages for me. What were the messages? They are:

1) God is love
2) God will give me hope but
3) I must believe and
4) I can make a difference.

God sent every one of us here to do different types of work. It can be a doctor, driver, a clergy, an engineer, an investment banker, etc. In order for us to individually grow, we must, in addition to our work, do the following:
1) treat the person we come in contact with as an individual person, NOT as a mass of people or as a digit.
2) We must see the person’s potential, NOT what he/she was before. Because if you see a person as what he/she was we condemn him/her to the past and he/she can never improve. We are to see a person as what he is now and see the POTENTIAL and the best that he can be.
3) we are then to LOVE him eg respect, and kindness and
4) we are to give him HOPE

In practical terms, it means that every person can make a difference to his/her spouse, his/her children, his/her grand- children, his/her relatives and all the people he/she comes in contact with.

But first things first. I was in tremendous pain on Tuesday the 20/4/99. I had high fever. I had to undergo all the tests ordered by the Liver Surgeon—blood tests, liver function tests, blood count, ECG, x-rays, and CT Scan. The pain was so terrible, I felt extremely sick. My back was in enormous pain. In between my skin and bones I felt so painful it was unbearable. The constant pain was getting to me and I felt as though I was dying. I don’t know how to describe the feeling. It just was so bad that I could not think. Suddenly I remembered the movie. To get the hope from God I must believe. Do I believe? Do I have faith in Him? Can I be absolutely certain that God will keep His Word? Do I waver like the waves in the sea, tossing here and there? One minute I believe, the next minute I don’t? If I am like that who am I to blame? What was I to do? Psychologically, I can take two steps—negative or positive. Which do I choose? Since I was in such a terrible shape, I decided to take the positive step. I have nothing to lose. I started to believe and to take His Words as they appeared to me. “Ask and you will receive…For everyone who asks will receive.” (Matthew 7:7-8 Today’s English Version) “When you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for.”(Mark 11:24 Today’s English Version) “He gave us His Son–will He not also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) I asked God to relieve my pain and I believed that somehow or other he will send a thought, a person, an angel to help me. I was much relieved but I was still in constant pain.

Early in the morning I asked Leng to check with our relative as to what I could do. The relative rang and spoke to Leng and me. I asked him what could I do to help in relieving my pain and fever. He said they had to find the source of my fever before they can treat me. He told me that I paid good money so let the doctors do their job. I told him there must be something I can do. I told him that I notice that it was usually around 12am or 2am that I started to feel the big pain. It will start with a little irritation in my throat, then I start to cough and then I have the spasm and tremendous pain. He explained that what has happened was that I did not move in the middle of the night, fluid then collected in my lung, where the liver was removed. Once fluid collects, bacteria start to multiply very quickly and the fever rises and I have a spasm. I can help myself by taking long deep breaths. Then, the fluid will not collect in my lungs. I did that, and I remembered a surgeon telling me to take deep breaths too and to walk. I did walk but I forgot to take deep breaths as it was painful to breathe deeply when in pain.
That night at around 12am the same irritation in the throat started to happen but I notice that if I take deep short breaths even then I am able to somehow stop the cough and the spasm from coming. I did that for 4 hours until I was totally exhausted. I asked God to help me to get to sleep, as I was far too tired. I had a fretful sleep that night but I did not have much spasm. The relative helped to explain to me in a language that I understand as to what was happening.
Lying in the hospital, all I see are CNN, Asia news, and occasionally movies. I see the Kosovo refugees, the Timorese refugees and the senseless killing of innocent high school children and I wonder why? Is there a God out there to help? How can God allow that to happen to innocent victims? I have no answer but I get the message that I can make the difference and that the innocent victim could be me. What I

like then is for individuals to treat me with kindness and respect and to give the time to listen to me. I then want them to give me hope by cheering me on. Life must go on and there is a better future out there for me to look forward to. Every individual who wants to grow spiritually and emotionally, must give the time and a listening ear and to give hope to cheer the innocent victim. That is how God is helping, through us individuals.
The other movie which I saw “Touched by Angels” tells us that God does things in His time, not our time and for our overall good.

IV) Lessons learnt from this surgical experience

1) God is love. Where love is God is. God is the greatest Carer and the greatest Giver.
2) Individual belief is extremely important to benefit from God’s promises.
3) For us to grow as a human being, we must treat people as an individual person not as a mass of people or as a unit
4) Early detection brings enormous benefit.
5) Even with inadequate preparation the benefits are always there.
6) Policy dictates how bureaucracy works.
7) A loving home is the best place for speedy recovery after an operation. The moment a person in not on drip he should go home to recover. One day home earlier is like one week stay for recovery in the hospital.
8) I found that flossing my teeth and brushing my teeth and upper lips after every meal helped me to eat my meal without any difficulty.

(The above was written on 28 April 99, 5 days after I was discharged on 23 April 99.)

Post Operation Experience
I was re-admitted to SGH on 4 May 99 because I was having low-grade fever of 37.2 to 38.20C. I had 5 days of fever. When my relative heard about it she told me to ring the Liver surgeon up immediately. She told me not to wait any longer as it could cause me to be admitted under emergency condition.
Precaution is better than crisis situation. I was lucky to get the Liver surgeon on Monday the 3rd as he was in the operating theatre performing operation. He told me to see him the next day or see his staff that evening. When I saw the surgeon the next day the first thing he suspected was that I may have fluid in my lung and abscess in my liver. He sent me for an x-ray and found that the x-ray showed only a little fluid in my lung although when he listened to my chest he felt that there was fluid in my lung. I had to do one test after another. Three days later when they did a CT Scan on my liver they found abscess, which they put a needle in to drain the next day. Meanwhile, the surgeon asked an Infection Specialist to check on my condition. She listened to my chest and found that I had fluid in my lung and that it may have to be drained as well. She also changed my medicine to Vancomycin instead of Cyprobay, She said that 90% of the time the infection is due to common bugs instead of something unusual. The moment I took the Vancomycin my fever went down to normal for two and a half days. I felt good and I asked whether I could do away with the panadol. I was taken out of the panadol for only half a day and my temperature shot up again. Meanwhile more x-rays were taken to see whether I had fluid in my lung. The Infection Specialist came again and listened to my chest and said that the fluid may have to be drained. Every morning the Medical Officer listened to my chest and commented that there were

still fluids in my lung. The Senior Registrar came while I was at the toilet and he looked at the x-rays and said that since it indicated just a little fluid it was best that they do not drain my lung. He did not listen to my lung and he based his decision on the x-rays. Meanwhile my fever was going up and down. The surgeon said it was very strange as my white blood count showed that it was normal. Normally if one has an infection the white blood count will go up. They took further x-ray and found that the liver drainage has moved so they waited for a day or two to take further x-ray that all my liver abscess was drained. They removed the tube for my liver abscess on Wednesday the 12th but my fever was still high. The surgeon said they have to drain my lung even if it was just a little fluid. They could not get me to drain my lung the next day as there was no slot for me. They put a needle to drain my lung but initially could not find any fluid, but when they actually found a spot the fluid gushed out like a tap. They have to open the area bigger and put a half-inch tube to drain the fluid. Some 500-600ml was drained out. The nurse did not fix my bag properly and some 200-300ml was spilled on to my bed. The moment the fluid was drained from my lung my fever went to normal. I asked, how was it that they could not detect the fluid from the x-rays. One of the MO bluffed me by saying that the fluid has to be about 500ml before they can see it in the x-ray. The next day I asked the surgeon the same question and he told me that the fluid has flooded the whole of my lung and there was no distinctive mark to show the fluid. The Senior Registrar made the wrong decision by not listening to my chest and not listening to his MO and the Infection Specialist. He made his decision based on “inaccurate” x-ray data. His mistake was not counter-checking to make sure that his decision is correct. I had to pay for the mistake by suffering
Every day the nurses took measurement of the fluid that was draining from my lung. They recorded that it was 200ml

for one day another 175 ml another day, 150ml and so on. They recorded that the amount of fluid in my lung was 1000 ml. I had noted that the drained fluid was at 700ml after the second day and this was confirmed by one of the MO. It remained at the same level throughout. It showed the 700mls mark, so I did not understand how the nurse took their measurements until one night I asked them how did they measure the fluid. I was shocked when they told me that they have to flatten the fluid to measure the increase in the fluid in my bag. I told them that different nurses will flatten the bag at different pressure and the measurement will then be inaccurate. The nurses told me that was how they always do it and they believe its the right way. The next day I told the doctors that the daily measurement of the fluid that was drained out was inaccurate. It took me quite a while to convince them that the measurement was inaccurate and they were basing their decision on inaccurate data. One cold, aloof Registrar said since there was a dispute on the measurement they will get the doctor to do it from then on and they will take further x-ray to see the next day. I already had my x-ray on Sunday and this further x-ray was on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning at about 5am I woke up feeling mad and angry. I told myself that I wanted to go back that morning no matter what. I was just fed up to my teeth. I was on continuous intravenous drip all this 15 days and it felt terrible. The intravenous catheter could only last 2-3 days and the doctor had to find another vein to put new catheter for the antibiotics for me. All my veins in my two hands were all shot up. The morning drip took 3-4 hours to complete as they have to drip 3 antibiotics- Vancomycine, Gentamycin, and Metronidazole. The afternoon and mid-night drip took 2-3 hours to complete as they gave me only Vancomycin and Metronidazole and depending on the state of my veins. Some of the veins were so swollen that it took much longer to complete.

The more understanding Registrar came on the Wednesday the 19th morning and I asked whether I can go back that morning. He said that the record showed that there was 175ml of fluid more that night. I told him there was no measurement and it had stayed at 700ml. He took a look at the Sunday x-ray and the Tuesday x-ray and said there was marked improvement and I can go back that morning after they take out my tube. The MO came in to confirm that there was no fluid that night and it had stayed at 700ml. Two doctors came around 11am to remove the tube but found that they could not find the thread that tied the tube. They asked me to lie on my left side and they left me in this position for half an hour, with an open tube sticking out of my right chest at the back of my body. Leng went to look for the missing doctors and not finding them told the Sister of the ward, who came and clamped the tube close with a piece of gauze and paged the doctors. The two doctors managed to find another doctor who came and cut the tube and cut the thread but found it hard to remove the tube. He said that since I am not his patient he is not covered by insurance otherwise he would just yank the tube out. They called another doctor [fourth] in and he said that the thread was cut wrongly. He managed to cut the remaining thread properly and he took out my tube without me feeling a thing.
What a difference with a person who knows.
This time round I felt really bad and it was worse than the first stay for the operation. I was made to pay for wrong decisions based on inaccurate data. I stayed for thirteen days the first time, I stayed for sixteen days the second time. If the decision is critical the doctors should have counter-checked their data. Great doctors would have done that automatically.
In my projects I have systemized a procedure to make sure that any critical decision that I have to make, I make doubly sure that my data, facts, information are accurate. I always

counter check them. Why? because the data, facts or information could be:

Coloured Inaccurate Tainted Assumed Partial

Since I came back, I am having fever. Every time it hit 380C I take two Panadol. I had fever on the night of 19th. On 20th at 4pm I had 38.10C. On 21st I had 38.00C at 4am, 38.50C at 1pm and 38.00C at 7.30pm. On 22nd I had 38.20C at 3pm.
Fortunately for me, I consulted a surgeon who told me that I must expect my fever to go up and down but anything below 38.60C or 101.50F I should not worry too much. I am keeping a very close watch over my temperature. I do not want to stay in the hospital again.

(The post operation experience was written on 22 May 99, 3 days after I was discharged.)

Appendix 2.

Second Liver Cancer Operation Experience

I thought that I would put into words what I have gone through in my second Liver Operation, which was done on 17 Feb 00. I read from the Internet that practically all Liver cancer patients died after a year or two. As usual I asked around to get more information about repeat Liver operation. The conclusion I gathered was that in any second operation, it is going to be more complicated and that it is going to be more painful, more stressful and more debilitating. Usually, it is worse than the first operation. My first operation was bad, as I had complication in that I had to be re-admitted to the hospital for 16 more days to find out that I had abscess in my liver and fluid in my lung. I had to use the most powerful drug, Vancomycin, to bring down my fever and infection so I was worried about my second operation. Nevertheless, I was prepared to go through to increase my chance for a cure.
Surprisingly or miraculously, the result of my second operation was relatively easy and less painful than the first operation. I recovered faster and was able to move around earlier. I had an easier time, this time round. How is that so? I can’t explain other than to recount what happened before I went for the operation. Leng was concerned for my second operation and she asked me to see the priest for a healing blessing before I go for the operation. Leng asked the priest in the Catholic Church that we have been attending for the last year or so. The priest did not know us but was very kind and performed a healing ceremony for us in his room. He anointed me with holy oil on my hands and forehead and prayed for us to be helped by the Holy Spirit. I take the whole ceremony as a matter of fact, without much thought as to whether it would help me or not but Leng believed very much in it. She felt that

it will help me to go through the operation better. The result was that the Holy Spirit did carry me through the operation and also after the operation!!! I was certainly helped along the journey. I cannot explain the result other than recount what we did before the second operation and the subsequent effect it had on me.
While recuperating I had lots of time to reflect and the message this time round was that God is very merciful. How is that so? If we go to Him, He will always forgive us, no matter what. But we have to be sincere to want to change and to turn over a new leaf. If God is not merciful, we will all be condemned to death and to hell as we are all sinners, whether with big or small sins. God never give us up or forsake us. So God sent His beloved Son, Jesus, to show us and to teach us the way to peace and joy and rest.
What did Jesus do? Jesus says “Come, follow Me…” and “Learn from Me…” Learn what?

1) Learn to forgive—“Forgive one another, as I have forgiven you” “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
2) Learn to love—“Love you one another as I have loved you.” “If you love Me, you will obey My commandments.” “He who does not love Me does not keep My Words.” “We know that in all things God works for good with those who love Him.”
3) Learn to go the extra mile—“If any one asks you to go one mile, go the extra mile.” “If any one strikes you on the left cheek, turn the other cheek also.”

What does this mean for our daily living? In our relationship with our friends, relatives, children, parents and spouses, there

will come times of crises and disagreements. If we want the relationship to develop and grow, we have to:

learn not to fight learn not to justify
learn not to insist that I am right and you are wrong learn to do the right thing, but if in doubt do the loving

What this means, is that, we are to be:

more forgiving less revengeful or punishing
more compassionate less malice
more kind less hardening of our hearts
more gentle less temper, less anger
more tolerance less impatience
more humble less proud, less arrogant
more giving less grabbing or grasping
more generous less envy, less grudges
more civil less rude or less answering back

Don’t people take advantage of us if we do that and go the extra mile? Sure, some will but in the long run, the result will be that we have more peace, joy, happiness and rest for our spirit, our mind and our heart. This is the Good News of Jesus. This is what God wants all of us to learn and to do. Whether we can do this or not, is a constant struggle. We can only succeed with God’s help as we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

Above was written on 12 March 2000, soon after my 2nd Liver cancer operation.

Appendix 3

Start of my spiritual journey–—42 days hospital stay

I was hospitalized for 6 weeks from 14/5/00 to 24/6/00 for occasional high fever. After 6 weeks I was asked whether I would like to stay on or go out to see the GP to give me injections for Targocid, the equivalent of Vancomycin. I chose to go back home and get the GP to inject me with two doses of 200ml of Targocid every day for 3 weeks from 25/6/00 to 15/7/00. More than 2 months of suffering in all.
(Incidentally, I was given the nuclear radioactive substance to the liver directly through an angiogram just before this incident. This is to kill the residual cancer cells. I was among the first few patients in Singapore to be introduced to this form of treatment in year 2000, although it was done for sometimes in Hong Kong.)
During my 6 weeks stay in hospital, I was given very strong antibiotic such as Vancomycin, Ciprobay, Metronidazole, Fluconazole and even Imipenem for one week. At the same time I am given Panadol, Indesit and Antacid. In the first 4 weeks it took 4-5 hours every morning and 2-3 hours every night of intravenous drips for the antibiotics to be given to me. I could hardly sleep at all.
When I was back home I was given 3 weeks of Targocid, Ciprobay, Metroidazole, Fluconazole, one month of Indesit and Antacid and 10 days of Panadol.
All the time I was at the hospital I did not feel unwell other then having high fever of over 380C every few days. Most of the time I was having low-grade fever of around 37.50C. I had 4 CT Scans and 2 angiogram drainages to remove fluid at the posterior of my second liver cancer operation, which was done on 17/2/00 (first one on 12/4/99). They found that there was some fluid but it was segmented into many compartments.

During the first time very little fluid came out but at the second time there was no fluid at all. Practically every day the doctors took blood samples for cultures and tests for all sorts of diseases but could find nothing wrong. So the doctors gave me the most powerful antibiotics to bring down my fever. Every day I had to have a catheter inserted for my Vancomycin.
Because Vancomycim was so strong my veins were all inflamed and thrombotized. Sometimes it took the doctor 5 injections before he could find a good vein for the Vancomycim. After the first week or so one Registrar Surgeon stated that I needed to be operated to remove the fluid in my liver. Another week later another Surgeon stated the same opinion. After 4 weeks of intermittent high fever even my Liver Surgeon told me that he had to operate on me after he came back from his one-week leave. After my Liver Surgeon came back from his leave he told me that I did not have to be operated on at all but they still didn’t know for sure what was causing my fever.

Imagine my state of mind in the above situation. In my 6 weeks at the hospital I hardly watched TV but spent all my time thinking and brooding. I was afraid that, so soon after my second operation and before my wound was fully healed; I had to go for another operation. I was overwhelmed. I was full of fear that I might not live through another operation and it did not help when so many Surgeons pronounced so regularly that I needed another operation to remove the fluid in my liver. I was gloomy and the thought of death was not far from my consciousness. But I was not unwell, only sometimes I had high fever. I was angry, frustrated, insecure, stressed and railed against fate. One moment my mood was up but when the high fever came, it was down. I was crushed. I wailed often, “Why, God, why don’t You hear my cries?” and I prayed for a miracle all the time.

And a miracle did happen. God, in His boundless love and grace and mercy, did hear my cry and the prayers of all who prayed for me. I did not have to do a third liver operation, which the Liver Surgeon said would be complicated but could be done with no assurance that the fluid will not occur again.

In the hospital, I read one particular passage of my old write-up (which I did more than 1.5 years ago) many times over and tried to make sense of my situation. The passage was:

“When we love God, does it mean that we have less trials, tribulations, doubts, fear, distress, sicknesses, disappointments, and insecurity? No, we are human and we will have our share of trials, tribulations, fear, disappointments and confusion. The big difference, as Christians, is that we believe that our God will help us to cope with or overcome them if we but call on Him. We can be absolutely sure that God is there to carry us through these trying times, if we trust that God will keep His promises. As Jesus says “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”(John 16:33 NKJV) Jesus comforts us further by saying “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:24 NKJV) We are not to think that our trials come from God as St James says “If we are tempted by such trials, we must not say, ’This temptation comes from God.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself tempts no one.” (James 1:13)
“The purpose of such trials, according to St James, is to help us to deepen our faith and to develop our patience: “My friends, consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way, for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so

that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. But if any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all.”(James 1:2-5) St James even tells us to be happy and positive in our trials. “Happy are those who remain faithful under trials, because when they succeed in passing such a test, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love Him.”(James 1:12)
“St Peter tells us that our faith must be tested in order for us to develop patience: “Be glad about this, even though it may now be necessary for you to be sad for a while because of the many kinds of trials you suffer. Their purpose is to prove that your faith is genuine. Even gold, which can be destroyed, is tested by fire; and so your faith, which is much more precious than gold, must also be tested, so that it may endure. Then you will receive praise and glory and honor on the Day when Jesus Christ is revealed.”(1 Peter 1:6-7)
“St Paul says “We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”(Romans 5:3-5 NKJV) We must “Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.” (Romans 12:12) In this way “Who, then, can separate us from the love of God? Can trouble do it, or hardship or persecution or hunger or poverty or danger or death?” (Romans 8:35)
“As a professing Christian, St Paul himself suffered greatly: “I have worked much harder. I have been in prison more times, I have been whipped much more, and I have been near death more often. Five times I was given the thirty-nine lashes by the Jews; three times I was whipped by the Romans; and once I was stoned. I have been in three shipwrecks, and once I spent twenty-four hours in the water. In my many

travels I have been in danger from floods and from robbers, in danger from my own people and from Gentiles; there have been danger in the cities, danger in the wilds, danger on the high seas, and dangers from false friends. There has been work and toil; often I have gone without sleep; I have been hungry and thirsty; I have often been without enough food, shelter, or clothing. And not to mention other things, every day I am under the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
When someone is weak, then I feel weak too; when someone is led into sin, I am filled with distress.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-
29) Although St Paul loved God very dearly, his sufferings from witnessing for Christ were not reduced. ”We are often troubled, but not crushed, sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are never destroyed.”(2 Corinthians 4:8-9) However, he is always confident of God’s grace and power to help him to carry his load. ”In all our troubles, I am still full of courage, I am running over with joy.”(2 Corinthians 7:4) In addition, ”to keep me from being puffed up with pride because of the many wonderful things I saw, I was given a painful physical ailment, which acts as Satan’s messenger to beat me and keep me from being proud. Three times I prayed to the Lord about this and asked Him to take it away. But His answer was: ‘My grace is all you need, for My power is greatest when you are weak.’ I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me. I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”(2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
“St Paul finds that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him and he learns to be contented and satisfied with whatever he has: “For I have learned to be satisfied with what I have. I know what it is to be in need and what it is to

have more than enough. I have learned the secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.”(Philippians 4:11-13)
Moreover, St Paul assures us that we will not be tested beyond what we are able to bear: “Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps His promise, and He will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, He will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.”(1 Corinthians 10:13) Do we believe that? If we do, we will have the power to go through the tests.
“If we find our load too heavy and our labor too stressful, we are to learn from Jesus as He can lighten our load. Jesus offers us: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV) Jesus advises that we are not to add our worry of tomorrow to today: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34 NKJV) And “Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it? If you can’t manage even such a small thing, why worry about the other things?” (Luke 12:25-26)
“Often, because we have experienced trouble, we will be able to help others who face all kinds of problems. We can make a difference, if we hold on to the cause that because we live, we can help others to lighten their load. St Paul affirms this: “He (God) helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same

help that we ourselves have received from God.”(2 Corinthians 1:4) “

After reading the passage so many times and chewing and mulling over it most of the time, I came to the following conclusion:

1) God has a plan for me and for each one of us
2) God will work His miracle at His own time and pace
3) God did not punish me as my God is a loving God my
sickness was brought about by my own attitude and lifestyle
4) God is not disciplining me I don’t discipline my children
when they are grown up, so I can’t see God disciplining me now.
5) I had to calm my body, mind and spirit so that:
a) the doctor’s medicine can do their work
b) my body can help in the healing process
c) God’s healing power can work through my body and is not blocked by my stress
6) I found 2 sentences that gave me the strength to endure my pain and suffering from the continuous injections and I repeated them often:
a) “I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” (Philippians 4:13)
b) “God has given me a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7)
7) God is using this occasion to guide and teach me
something this I have to find out more when
I get out of the hospital.

The moment I was well enough, I went to the Internet for hours to find:

i) What is the Christian view on anger–I have a lot of unresolved resentment and anger, which I unconsciously carried over from my childhood days.
ii) What is the Christian view on forgiveness–how do I forgive and what is forgiveness

I was surprised to find that anger is a sin. And that saying hurtful and nasty word is just as sinful and I need to ask God for forgiveness. In turn I have to forgive others. It is not a choice but a command from God to forgive in order to be forgiven. Forgiveness means not to bring up the hurt:

1) to the person ever again
2) to others and so gossip about it:
3) and not to dwell over the issue in my mind ever again

I keep on saying that I need to turn over a new leaf and change my life style as I do not want to have another Liver operation. I must change; otherwise as sure as the sun rises everyday, I will be heading for another Liver cancer operation!!! I don’t want that to happen and so I have to have the will and determination to change. I thought through my life and see that the root causes of all my problems are:

a) a selfish heart that considers me first, last and always
b) a strong and stubborn pride that will not forgive easily and will rarely apologize
c) a hardened heart, which when provoked by anger will give rise to the most nasty, foul and hurtful words without any concern for anyone’s feelings.

I thought that if I will myself to:

i) turn the other cheek more
ii) forgive more
iii) love more

I will be able to turn over a new leaf and change my style of living.
I realized I was sadly mistaken. I came to understand from reading Pastor Steve Carr’s articles in his web site, that if I am using my own will and mind, I will be doomed for failure. But if I daily surrender myself to Jesus Christ and ask Him for help I will succeed. Ask Jesus Christ to soften my hardened heart to be tender hearted so that I will be able:

a) to give more generously to others and be a more cheerful giver rather than a grabber
b) to have a more humbler and gentler heart in order that I can say sorry more readily and forgive more easily.
c) to have a more loving heart so that I am more kind, compassionate and considerate to others.

I want to turn over a new leaf and change my life style so that I do not repeat the same mistake and develop cancer again. This is the start of a new chapter in my life and a spiritual quest for more enlightenment in my life. I pray for success. With God’s help I hope that I will be able to stick to my new resolve so that I can claim my right to God’s promises of a life of joy, peace, happiness and rest.
Please pray for me to succeed.

(Above was written on 22 July 2000, 7 days after my full treatment of Targocid by the General Practitioner (GP) but just under a month after the 42 days hospital experience.)

Appendix 4

I Faced My Own Death 3 Times–About My Inward Journey

I thank God that I am loved and that I am His beloved child. I am blessed by the mercy and grace of God, for He has seen me through two liver cancer operations: one in April 1999 and the other in February 2000.
What have I been doing since I retired in 1996?
I have embarked on my spiritual journey!!
I wish to start by saying life is full of surprises and we can’t be absolutely certain where it is going to take us. Many of us want to live in an eternity of love, where “He (God) will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4 NIV).
Many people wish that they could be like so and so who has found ‘the Way’. For me it has been a long spiritual journey and I am still on my journey. When did it get started?
It started in the middle of 2000. I had 2 liver cancer operations—one in April 1999, the other in February 2000. After that I was among the first in Singapore to have radio- active substance put into my liver, where I was hospitalized for another 42 days with intermittent fever.
I stared at my own death 3 times.
The first time my attitude was “so what is death? you die only once and this is no big deal. Die, die, so what.”
The second time I faced my own death; I was a little more respectful and said, “Hey, this is serious! Don’t play the fool. Better be careful. See what I can do.” I then seriously noted that people who die don’t exist anymore in this world. No more second chance!

The third time I faced my own death, I was extremely scared! Death was in my mind all the time. I went through all the emotions you can think of. One minute my feeling was up, the next minute down and this time I prayed for miracles to happen. I fought hard to be alive! I understand now why many dying people don’t give up that easily!
When I had my first liver cancer operation, I searched the Internet then and I found that practically all liver cancer patients die within a year or two. I asked a lot of “Why?” On my second liver operation, I was concerned but was doing fine. Soon after that, I was given radio-active Iodine to cure the cancer but I was hospitalized again for 42 days. I was scared to death when 2 other surgeons besides my liver cancer surgeon told me to have another operation (3rd one) to remove the excess fluid in my liver to bring down the fever. I refused as it was too soon after the second liver operation. I was angry. I was fearful. I was distressed. I was in agony. I was in pain. I cried for mercy and grace. I prayed for miracles. You name the emotions, I had experienced them.
By the grace and mercy of God a miracle did happen and I did not have to be operated again. When I was pushed into that ultimate corner, I could become bitter and cynical or I could become better in my life with God.
I promised myself that “I want to turn over a new leaf and change my life style so that I do not repeat the same mistake and develop cancer again. This is the start of a new chapter in my life and a spiritual quest for more enlightenment in my life. I pray for success. With God’s help I hope that I will be able to stick to my new resolve so that I can claim my right to God’s promises of a life of joy, peace, happiness and rest.” [This was what I wrote immediately after my 42 days of hospital stay in my website (} under the Heading “My Testimony”]

What have I found out? Basically:

  1. That suffering is God’s megaphone calling me to Him. Calling me—to make that quantum leap in my faith and trust in Him. God allows me to suffer as one of the ways He grabs my attention to truly and fully turn to Him. I choose to believe that God will guide my life. I choose to believe that joy can come amidst my suffering just as crushed grapes can produce delicious wine. I know that we are “children of God” (1 John 3:1 TEV), and that God is “always ready to help (me) in times of trouble” (Psalms 46:1 TEV), and nothing can come into my life unless He allows it. I choose to believe that He is in charge. That He is in control. I choose to believe that with all my heart, and look about expectantly for what God is doing—in me or through me.
    One reason why God allows me to have trials and adversity is for me to discover and learn for myself, through my own personal experience, “how very great is His power at work in us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:19 TEV)
    I have also discovered a great secret in life—it is
    that suffering can become a source of new hope and new life for me. We know: no hardened ground can bear fruit if it is not broken up by the plough; no grain can become bread if it is not ground and baked; no rough diamond can be transformed to its true brilliance if it is not cut and polished; and no steel can be strong without going through fire and cold water. So, in like manner, if our hearts are hard like stone, it will not bear fruit; but our lives can be fruitful if our hearts are open and softened through suffering. Our hearts are then renewed to help and comfort others.
  2. That God is love and God loves each one of us. He loves us unconditionally. As Henri J M Nouwen says, “What can we say about God’s love? We can say that God’s love is unconditional. God does not say, ‘I love you, if. . . ‘ There are no ifs in God’s heart. God’s love for us does not depend on what we do or say, on our looks or intelligence, on our success or popularity. God’s love for us existed before we were born and will exist after we have died. God’s love is from eternity to eternity and is not bound to any time-related event or circumstance. Does that mean that God does not care what we do or say? No, because God’s love wouldn’t be real if God didn’t care. To love without condition does not mean to love without concern. God desires to enter into relationship with us and wants us to love God in return.
    “Let’s dare to enter into an intimate relationship with God without fear, trusting that we will receive love and always more love.” (Bread for the Journey, Feb 5)
    However, I often feel unworthy of His love because I cannot live up to His standard. I feel I cannot please Him enough. I am not good enough. But God loves me not because of what I do. He loves me because He is Love. Love is who God is. God loves every one of us. Even monks have doubt of God’s love, as Henri Nouwen says, “one of the greatest temptations of a monk is to doubt God’s love.” (The Genesee Diary, Oct 27 1974)
  3. That God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to the world to reconcile us sinners with Him. By His grace and mercy anyone who believes and receives Jesus is put right with God: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV) and “to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He

gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 NIV). St Paul states “God has shown us how much He loves us–it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! By His blood we are now put right with God; how much more, then, will we be saved by Him from God’s anger.” (Romans 5:8-9 TEV) The Gospel tells us about Jesus Christ and as Mother Teresa says “The whole Gospel is very, very simple. Do you love me? Obey my commandments. He’s turning and twisting just to get around to one thing: love one another.” (No Greater Love, 20)

  1. That Jesus came to us to help us overcome our fear of God and as long as we are afraid of God, we cannot love God. But who truly is Jesus Christ? Who do I say He is?
    I agree with C S Lewis, who, after having examined the claims by Jesus in the Bible, declares that: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral teacher, he’d either be a lunatic—on a level with a man who says he’s a poached egg—or else he’d be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse But
    don’t let us come up with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He hasn’t left that open to us. He didn’t intend to. We are faced then with a frightening
    alternative. The man we are talking about was (and is,) just what he said or else a lunatic or something worse. Now it seems to me obvious that he was neither a lunatic nor a fiend; and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that he was and is God.” (Mere Christianity, 52- 53)
    I see Jesus’ life as a personification of God’s love for me and I re-discover the truth of Jesus’ bold assertion that,

“The Father and I are one.”(John 10:30 TEV) and “Whoever sees Me sees also Him who sent Me.”(John 12:45 TEV) And when Jesus was questioned, “Where is your father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor my Father. If you knew Me, you would know my Father also.”(John 8:19 TEV) St Paul clearly states, “Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God.”(Colossians 1:15 TEV) and “I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me” (John 6:37 TEV).

For me personally, I believe in Jesus’ assertion that: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6
NKJV) and in Peter’s saying that: “Only in Him (Jesus Christ) is there salvation; for of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NJB) As for people of other faiths, I prefer not to limit God in His Judgment Day but to leave it to His divine mercy and justice. The Bible also says, “I will judge you. . . every one according to his ways, says the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 18:30 NIV) and “The Lord is . . . not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 NKJV) Jesus shows clearly the extent of His divine mercy to the criminal at the crucifixion, when Jesus says, ”In truth I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43 NJB)
Ultimately, a person who believes in Jesus Christ has also to have faith that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. If Jesus Christ is not raised from the dead then his faith in Jesus Christ is useless, for: “if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.” (1 Corinthians 15:14 NKJV) And faith is a gift from God. But, is faith really the gift of God? Yes, faith is a gift from God for faith gives us the grace or the power to believe. Without this grace or power to believe, no one can believe or ever did believe. His faith is in

the Person he believes in, he does not have faith in his own faith or in his ability to maintain his own faith. But the act of believing must come from the individual. It is the individual choice. No one, not even God, can believe for any man. Just like no one can repent for any man.

  1. That we are getting a foretaste of love here and now and as Jesus promises, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10 NKJV). In eternity we will have the full force of love in all its beauty and glory.
    I had stopped going to Church during most of my working life. To be good in my career, I read mainly Management books. I have even written a Project Management book, which can be downloaded at my website.
    It was only when I retired in 1996 that I started to go back to Church. Since the start of my spiritual journey, I have been reading Christian books and listening to audio MP3 sermons, which I downloaded from the Internet. I put whatever I find useful in my website for future reference and to share with any one.
    Today, I take it that another miracle has occurred–
    -as I am still alive, nearly 11 years after my first liver cancer operation. A few doctors have personally told me that it is a miracle that I am alive. I am no longer the person I was. My personality is still the same but my disposition and my attitudes have changed by the grace of God. I am more eager to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

You may like to read the articles in my website to see my quest. Why? For each of us has to find our own way to God.

Appendix 5

My Recent Medical Crisis

During the past 5 months (starting from 6 November 2012 to 4 April 2013), I kept praying and claiming Jesus’ promise: “I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me”(John 6:37 TEV) and God has comforted and guided me. My family, relatives and friends prayed for me and somehow God has worked through them to help me. On my part I have to be constantly alert to His direction and to listen carefully.

When we go through a medical crisis or any major problem, we go through practically the same human reaction, although not covering all of them or following the same order or sequence. Recently I had a medical crisis––two tiny growths in my liver. I suffered a period of great stress and I find that the range of emotions can best be described by the acronym:-

S A R A H Begs Delay!

S Surprise, Shock, Stress, Suppression, Stubbornness, Stiff-necked, Spirit unease.
A Annoyance, Anxiety, Anger, Afraid, Agony,
Abandoned, Apathy, Afflicted, Alienated.
R Reprimand, Refusal, Restraint, Resistance, Revenge, Resentment, Rejection, Resign, Resetting the mind
control button.
A Acceptance, Awakening, Acknowledgement, Admit.
H Hope in God, Hope in His grace and mercy to see us through, Hope in family and friends for loving support and listening ears, Hallelujah!

B Beg, Bargain, Bitterness, Blame, Believe. Betrayer, Better, Blessing, Befriend.
D Delay, Despair, Denial, Deafness, Depression, Distress, Defeated, Discomfort, Doubt, Desolate, Dejected, Disoriented, Deadlock, Disappointed,
Directional change needed, Dying could be a constant companion.

The ideal response is to go quickly from shock to acceptance and taking action immediately.
But until the doctor or helper acknowledges and empathizes with me (the patient), my focus will still
be deadlocked in my deep seated fear and I find
it very difficult to change my rigid way of thinking.

My Medical Crisis started on 6 November 2012
with the Ultrasound detecting the following:

“An echogenic hepatic nodule is seen in the right liver lobe, which was not apparent on the previous study. “A multiphasic CT scan is recommended for further evaluation.”

Two days later, I had a CT Scan on 8 November 2012 and the finding was:

“The lesion in question in segment VIII was demonstrated as a hypodense focus in the portal venous and equilibrium phases of enhancement. It should be viewed with great suspicion as a tumour recurrence.
“There was a tiny hypervascular focus seen just beneath the dome of the diaphragm in segment IVa. This was indeterminate in nature but it should be closely followed- up especially in light of the appearance of a nodule in segment VIII”

I followed up, about 3 months later on 29 January 2013, with a PET-MRI Scan. This is considered to be the golden standard in Scan technology and the result was:

“Two mildly enhancing nodules with restricted diffusion and mild FDG-avidity, as well as non-contrast uptake in the hepatocyte specific phase of imaging, in segment 8 and at right surgical margin of the remnant liver, are suspicious of tumour recurrence.”

Throughout my life, I have always been reluctant to trouble relatives or friends but now I felt compelled to seek

help. Since I was so fearful of tumour recurring, I forced myself to write to a few relatives and friends who are doctors as follows:

I did my PET-MRI three days’ ago on 29 Jan 2013 and I am not happy with the vague wording of the finding that says “suspicious of tumor recurrence”. This is the same wording as the CT Scan of 8 November 2012 as a follow up to my Ultrasound on 6 November 2012.
This expression “suspicious of tumor recurrence” put an enormous stress on me. I am filled with unnecessary worry and dread. I thought that after the Ultrasound and with CT Scan and PET-MRI studies they should give a more definite finding and state whether it is cancerous or not!
I was very angry at the end of the PET-MRI study. It took all in all 4 hours. The actual PET-MRI took one and a half hours, one hour for the doing the brain and chest MRI and half hour on the liver; the rest of the time was spent on waiting and injecting the FDG. When the nurse went through the PET-MRI procedure with me, I questioned why they wanted to do the PET-MRI on my chest and brain. They did not give me a satisfactory answer but said that it was the standard procedure.
Since there was no X-ray, I decided not to question further. After they had completed the PET-MRI, the nurse routinely told me to wait outside for another CT scan to get a clearer picture of my chest. I refused as I did not want to have more X-ray on my body; anyway I told them that I just had a recent CT Scan on my liver. I saw no relevance in doing a CT Scan on my chest. They told me “Oh, this CT Scan is free and they want a better image of your chest.” My wife heard my voice from the waiting area and came in to say very firmly that we

didn’t want any scan done on my chest without my liver consultant’s specific request.
In view of the PET-MRI report, my liver consultant said that I should do a CT Scan on the liver in 3 months’ time. I told him that I do not want another CT Scan so soon. He said that then I could do an Ultrasound or MRI instead.

I learned, from the Internet, about the following functions of PET-MRI Scan:

“Differentiation between malignant and benign growths. PET is capable of accurate location of lesions, identification of benign versus malignant lesions, and differentiation from scar tissue.
“Detection of cancer recurrence. PET is the most sensitive method for detecting early recurrence and metastatic spread in many cancers. Early detection of cancer recurrence allows early initiation of treatment.
“Differentiation between cancer recurrence and post therapy structural change. Since PET imaging detects metabolic changes rather than structural changes, it is more specific than CT or MRI and is able to distinguish cancer recurrence from post therapy structural changes. This allows doctors to decide if further treatment is necessary.”

I also understand from the Internet that liver cancer doubles itself every 2 months.

As a layman, all I wanted to know is whether, based on my current PET-MRI study, do I have a benign or cancerous tumour recurring? What is the radiologist’s assessment? I would like to know the truth so I can

decide what to do. Is the tumour malignant? I do not want another 3 months of fear and anxiety. I had this enormous worry for 3 months after my CT scan on 8 November 2012. I just do not want another 3 more months of unnecessary fear and stress before my next scheduled test.

Since the PET-MRI procedure is said to give a clear interpretation according to the write-up in the Internet, I fail to comprehend such vague wording as “suspicious of tumor recurrence.” To a layman this is a very fearful pronouncement and a Draconian sword over my head.

I seek your help in getting me a second radiologist opinion on the PET-MRI.

After my local relative talked to my liver surgeon, he asked for a review.
On 6 February, the chief Radiologist provided an Addendum, which stated as follows:

“The two nodules demonstrated in the right lobe are again confirmed with mild restricted diffusion identified on the DWI sequences.
“On the post contrast sequences, there is no specific uptake demonstrated related to these that can be matched.
“The differential diagnosis would include high-grade dysplastic nodules.
“These require close follow-up.”

Being a layman, I wish the reports could be written for a layman to understand clearly! I was still in the dark as to what the reports meant. I talked to my liver surgeon and he advised

that according to the PET-MRI scan the small nodules were indeterminate and had to be monitored. I was advised to go for the normal MRI scan in 3 months’ time.

Since I had my second radiologist opinion, I told everyone to stop getting another radiologist opinion. I could see another 3 months of fearful wait and perhaps a further 3 more months of MRI Scan. What a stressful way to live. I was stubborn not to do anything until I was certain that the lesions were cancerous because of my two past traumatic liver surgery experiences. I was troubled but God works in the most wonderful manner.

Meanwhile, I was watching YouTube on liver tumors, laparoscopy liver surgery, etc. I did not look out for such information before. I was not fully aware as to how wonderfully blessed I was to have been successfully operated on in 1999. It is a miracle that I am still alive after my first HCC surgery 14 years ago. I am grateful that God has been kind and merciful to me.

Now, on hindsight, I remembered that my liver surgeon did mention, after the PET-MRI result, that since my lesions were small, an alternative solution would be to carry out a RFA (Radio Frequency Ablation). But I was adamant about not having any surgery, unless absolutely required. I was hoping that the lesions were totally benign and thus did not need surgery. Besides, with my limited medical knowledge, I did not ask about RF ablation. My mind just shut down and I was not opened to any new information or option. My mind was held captive by my terrifying fear of a third surgery. My mind was not open to any alternative solution, of which I had no knowledge.

But my overseas relatives persisted in helping me and consulted her Radiologist colleagues. They were concerned about the two lesions, which they said should be taken care of immediately, when they’re small, rather than later, when that would be a much more complicated affair. Some treatment options were cryoablation, surgical removal and RFA.
I went to the Internet to find out what cryoablation and RFA were. The procedures were quite similar to a needle biopsy, except that one uses heat while the other uses freezing to ablate the tumor.

However, I was still on denial and I tried to delay making the decision immediately. I wrote back and said so far no one has conclusively said that the small lesions are cancerous. What if it is benign? If so, would it then be OK to just let them be and check regularly to see whether there is any further growth? By the end of April, it will be 6 months since my last CT Scan and I will be going for another CT Scan. To date my Alpha-protein tumor marker, HBV DNA and Liver function tests were all OK. Maybe by end of April and after my CT Scan, it will be clearer and easier for me to decide. At the same time, my spirit was not at ease. I was troubled. I prayed and again claimed Jesus’ promises: “I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me”(John 6:37 TEV) and “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.” (Hebrew 13:5 TEV)

I now can see that mine is a classic case of how a lay individual faces a medical crisis. My reaction was one of sadness, anger and distress when both the CT Scan and PET- MRI Radiologists reported that in view of my liver history the small lesions were likely to be “suspicious of tumor recurring”. So I sought another opinion and delayed taking action still hoping that in my case it will be benign and not cancerous. I reasoned that should it be proven to be benign, then I didn’t

need surgery. With no knowledge of other options for the small lesions, I was focused on avoiding surgery at all cost. Due to my past two open liver surgery experiences, I was afraid of a third surgery on my liver, so I delayed and denied the seriousness of my case with further inaction.
Even when they told me that it was better to remove it when small rather than later, I delayed and was deaf to any alternative solution.

Only when my overseas relative acknowledged and empathized with my tremendous fear of a third liver surgical operation, I was then able to refocus and change my mindset to look at other options. If she had not addressed my underlying terror, I would have stubbornly resisted any other option. I would be stiff-necked enough not to take any immediate action. Her suggestion was to do
a minimally invasive surgery like RF ablation, cryoablation or microwave ablation. This directional change in mindset made it easy for me to decide. I prayed and in the silent of dawn the direction came to see my liver surgeon the next working day.
On 30th March, I expressed to the liver surgeon my anxiety and asked what could be done now and what the risks were. He strongly recommended me to do the RF ablation and arranged for me to see the Radiologist on 2nd April.
On 2nd April 2013, I saw the radiologist who was going to carry out the RF ablation. He is a very understanding person and he spent some time explaining the whole thing. In his opinion the 2 lesions were cancer tumors recurring, due to my history. He explained that when the tumors are small, less than 3cm (mine was 1.8cm), there are several options:

  1. is to use chemo on the tumors,
  2. to use RF ablation and
  3. to use a combination of chemo and RF ablation.

The best is surgery but there are problems associated with surgery too, he said.

One of the lesions will have no problem at all as it will be easy to perform using RF ablation. The other lesion is next to a major artery and that he feels is a little more complicated with RF ablation alone. Why? While the tumor is being burnt next to the major artery, the blood in the artery will cool the RF ablation. The cooling effect of the blood is like a car radiator cooling the area around it and he cannot be absolutely certain that the tumor is fully burnt off. He will try to be more certain by positioning the probe in a few areas around the lesion. He cannot over-cook or under-cook. If it is under-cooked it will have to be done again sometimes later. The alternative is use a combination of chemo and RF ablation, then it will be a more certain procedure. We asked what was the risk of using this combination. He said that the risk is of liver failure. However, this risk is extremely small because the amount of chemo used will be very little. Since there is this minute chance of liver failure we were hesitant. He said that in view of my age and if I was his relative, he will not use this procedure. He will however discuss with my liver surgeon. It was finally agreed that I should go for the RF ablation alone and if ever needed, to do the RF ablation again sometime later. He will of course aim to get the RF ablation done well the first time round.

On 4th April, my friend, being prompted by the Holy Spirit, insisted on taking my wife and me to the hospital in order that I would not be held up the taxi service. The RF ablation went smoothly at 11.45 am and I was able to go back home by 7pm on the same day. They sedated me and I was not aware of anything. The whole process took about an hour. My doctor relative checked with the radiologist who performed

the RF ablation and he was satisfied with the whole process. I was given 7 days of antibiotics and pain medication to take.

The loving support and listening ears of family, relatives and friends are invaluable. When I shared my sufferings with close friends and relatives, the going seems much easier and lighter. This is similar to sharing our affliction with a sympathetic support group–like AA or Cancer Society where there is a mutual desire to lighten each other’s load.
I share this experience with the desire that it may provide comfort, strength and hope for anyone who may be faced with a medical crisis.

I believe in God and prayed for His grace and mercy to see me through. I see that God is love and He pursues me with His love by showing it to me through the care of my family, relatives and friends; also, by unblocking my traumatic fear of a third liver surgery and opening my mind to an alternative solution. If it was not for my overseas relatives’ persistence and the Holy Spirit’s prompting, I would have delayed and resisted seeking an alternative solution. I am sure I would be stiff- necked enough, to not agree to any surgery, until I was sure that it was cancerous. This would invariably lead to the very thing I was most afraid of—a third major, open liver surgery! I felt that it was the timely intervention of the Holy Spirit and the persistence of my overseas relatives that got me to change my inflexible attitude and saved me from open liver surgery. Now that I am open to accepting an alternative solution, I was able to take action immediately and decided on the minimally invasive surgery in RF ablation. The RF ablation was performed 7 days after my overseas relatives told me about this option. It could not have been done faster–from consulting the radiologist and hospital scheduling for doing the RF ablation.
Having successfully gone through the RF ablation, my mind is

now at peace. God is faithful in constantly guiding me through my trial in the past 5 months. Praise the Lord, for HE is good! Halleluiah!!

Written on 6th April 2013

2nd Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) on 17 Oct 2014

I followed up with regular MRI on 7 Nov 2013 for my liver, but on 15 Oct 2014, it was found that there was a new tumour nodule demonstrated in segment 8 just lateral to the previously ablated focus. It measures 0.9 x 1.4 x 1.3 cm in size.
I saw my liver surgeon the next day and he recommended doing a second RFA. Because of the successful first RFA experience, I had no hesitation to do a second RFA on the next day, 17 Oct 2014.
The RFA report stated, “Under CT fluoroscope guidance, a 3 x 15 cm Cool-Tip RF electrode was inserted and a standard cycle of ablation was performed. Post ablation CT with low- dose intravenous contrast showed satisfactory visual results.
Immediate and 4-hour delay post ablation CT showed no significant subcapsular haematomas.”
I did not feel any discomfort or pain after the RFA. I would thus recommend anyone who has to do an RFA to do so immediately.

Appendix 6

Don’t be knocked out by adversity or suffering

All of us suffer. All of us have adversity. All of us are hurt in one way or another and at the most inconvenient time. The point is, do we let our suffering or adversity knocks us out. We are knocked out: when we keep on complaining about life’s injustices, when we recount the unhappy events in our mind over and over again, when we become bitter, when we seek revenge, when we are imprisoned by these events. Yes, we can be knocked down by adversity or suffering, but we have to bounce back and move on. Again and again! We must never allow these events to chain us to the past. We have to develop the courage to spring up fighting again and again at life’s challenges.We can take up our cross and remain brave and still caring and thus add a fuller meaning to our life here on earth. This is a triumph of our spirit. This is real success in life.
All of us think of our suffering as unique and private.
But what is most private is also most universal. People have been there and gone through the same suffering. What can we learn from them so that we are prepared? What must we plan ahead to understand? What can we do, to better prepare ourselves to handle the crisis?
I think the following advance preparations are useful:

  1. Ask “What” instead of “Why”
  2. Listen to what Jesus says about “Who is responsible for our suffering?”
  3. Learn from Jesus’ suffering.
  4. Accept the miracles at His time and in His way
  5. Call ourselves to make that quantum leap in our faith.
  6. Equip ourselves to help, comfort and counsel others
  7. Ask “What” instead of “Why”
    When adversity or suffering strikes, it consists of two main events:

(1) The cause–Why? and
(2) Our response.

By instinct, most of us want to figure out the cause of our pain before we decide how to respond. The first question we naturally ask is “Why?” Why God? Why me? Why now? Why is this happening to me? Why am I being punished? Why does God allow this to happen to me? Why am I having such a difficult time? We ask the “why” over and over again. We will find that we can never get a satisfactory answer from our “Why” question. In fact if we go on and not change direction we will end up being angry and bitter with God, fate, whatever.
At some point we have no choice but to change our focus and ask “What.” Now that the adversity, suffering, pain or hardship has occurred, what must I do? What can I learn from this experience? What did I learn from this experience that will help me to move forward? What are the hidden promises in this suffering? What are the buried treasured messages? What must I seek and find? What faith must I cultivate? When we refocus on the “what” of our response, we are more likely to find solutions to our problems.
All of us react to suffering as something uninvited, undesirable and unwelcome. But every suffering or pain we experience is the kind that normally comes to anyone. Pain and suffering are part and parcel of living in the world and Christians are not exempted. But, when we turn to Jesus, Jesus promises that He will help us and He will work

WITH us to turn the suffering and pain round for our good. The external circumstances (the pain, the suffering, the hardship or the adversity) may not change BUT our internal attitude and response to them will certainly change. As Christians, we are all challenged to discover the element of good in our suffering in order to promote our spiritual growth and to build our character. With our finite mind, we may not be able to see what possible “good” could ever come out from our suffering. But in His infinite wisdom, God promises to take “all things” including suffering, abuses, evil things, and turn them round for good as “in all things God works for good with those who love Him.” (Romans 8:28 TEV) God also promises that He will never leave us nor abandon us. He says, “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.”(Hebrew 13:5 TEV) and “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NKJV) “I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me” (John 6:37 TEV) We have to learn to hear with our inner ears and hearts to these comforting phases of “I will.”
We can take God at His Word that He will help us, comfort us, strengthen us and support us through our adversity and suffering.
Yes, the way we respond to adversity or suffering will determine whether life’s most painful experiences bring bitterness, resentment and despair or become a source of blessing and hope, which makes us better, grateful people.

  1. Listen to what Jesus says about “Who is responsible for our suffering?”
    The clearest insight into this question appears in Luke chapter 13 (NJB). Jesus was asked about two “current events” that prompted much local discussion. One was an act

of political oppression, in which Pilate had killed members of a religious minority, while they were offering sacrifices to God; the other, a construction accident that killed eighteen people. Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than any others, that this should have happened to them? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell, killing them all? Do you suppose that they were more guilty than all other people living in Jerusalem? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.”(v 2-5) Jesus did not fully answer the question most in their mind—the cause of the suffering. Jesus answers from above to the questions raised from below. His answer from above is about spiritual death. Physical death should alert us to our spiritual death and unless we repent we will spiritually perish like them. When we witness death, it is a call for repentance, a call for a radical change of our hearts, a call for us to turn to God, a call for conversion and a call to be reborn from above.
Jesus does not explain, “Here’s why those two tragedies occurred.” But He makes one thing clear— they occurred not as a result of any specific wrongdoing of the victims. So no grieving relative need to stand around wondering what brought about calamities; Jesus makes it plain that the victims had done nothing unusual to deserve their fates. They were the same as other people. They were sinners but no worse than other people. But Jesus did not stop there. He uses both tragedies to point to the eternal truths relevant to everyone—“unless you repent you will all perish as they did.” Jesus implies that we “bystanders” of catastrophes have as much to learn from the events as do the victims. A tragedy should alert us to make ourselves ready in case we are the next victims.

Catastrophes thus join together victims and bystanders in a call to repentance, by abruptly reminding us of the brevity of life.
But in verse 11 “there before Him was a woman who for eighteen years had been possessed by a spirit that crippled her” and Jesus healed her and declared that Satan had caused her the pain; ”this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan has held bound these eighteen years—was it not right to untie this bond on the Sabbath day?” (v 16)
Sometimes our illness could be due to our sins, as mentioned by Jesus in His healing of the paralyzed man. “Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him. And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus.
When He saw their faith, He said to him, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven you.’”(Luke 5:18-20 NKJV)
But Jesus makes it absolutely clear that often our suffering has nothing to do with our sin or our parents’ sin. Jesus’ disciples asked Him when they saw a man who was blind since birth: “’Teacher, whose sin caused him to be born blind? Was it his own or his parents’ sin?’ Jesus answered, ‘His blindness has nothing to do with his sin or his parents’ sin. He is blind so that God’s power might be seen at work in him.’” (John 9:2-3 TEV) Here, Jesus teaches His disciples that suffering is no longer tied to sin and punishment. This is a very radical and new concept because all through the Old Testament there is this connection between suffering and sin! And practically all of us still keep making that connection. The enormity of our human suffering is caused not only by physical and emotional pain, but also by our deep sense of guilt attached to the suffering. Jesus radically and definitely disconnected suffering from sin

and guilt. He did this in His own person. He who was without sin suffered the most and so broke the fatal connection between suffering and sin.
The best clue we have into how God feels about human pain is to look at Jesus’ response. He never gave an individual or a suffering person a speech about “accepting your lot in life,” or “taking the medicine that God has given you.” or “you must have done something to deserve this.” He seemed unusually sensitive to the groans of suffering people, and set about remedying them. And He used His supernatural powers to heal, never to punish.

  1. Learn from Jesus’ suffering
    Jesus learned about hardship, rejection and betrayal. When Jesus first began His ministry, the people hooted, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Jesus’ neighbors once ran Him out of town and tried to kill Him. The leaders of the day proudly announced that not one authority or religious leader believed in Him. He was rejected, lonely, tired, hungry, personally assaulted by Satan and persecuted by powerful enemies. Yet, when He met people in pain, He was deeply moved with compassion. Not once did He say, “Endure your pain! Swallow your grief!” When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, He wept. Very often, every time He was directly asked, He healed the pain.
    Sometimes He broke deep-rooted customs to do so, as when He healed a woman who had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years on the Sabbath day or when he touched outcasts, ignoring their cries of “Unclean!” And Jesus suffers pain when He has an accuser slap His face, a whip lashed across His back, and an iron spike pound through muscle, tendon, and bone.
    The cross was a picture of torment and suffocation to death, stretching for hours in front of a jeering crowd. The pattern

of Jesus’ response should convince us that God is not a God who enjoys seeing us suffer.
Because of Jesus, God experiences, truly experiences, our human pain. Our tears become His tears. He suffers with us. He suffers for us. He shares our pain and suffering. He is our companion in suffering. We have not been left alone in our suffering. God understands our suffering and He will not allow it to be wasted. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”(Hebrews 4:15-16 NKJV) We have a high priest who, having graduated from the school of suffering, understands us, “Since He Himself is weak in many ways, He is able to be gentle with those who are ignorant and make mistakes.” (Hebrews 5:2 TEV)
Jesus elevated suffering, transformed it, gave it power, and considers the pain of each member of the human race His pain. So much so that when I alleviate the pain of my brother, or am compassionate with his life, Jesus considers this done to Him, “whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of Mine, you did it for Me!” (Matthew 25:40 TEV)

  1. Accept the miracles At His time and in His way We must learn to accept the fact that Jesus will
    work His miracles at His pace and time and in His way. The story of Lazarus (John 11:1-44 NJB) demonstrated this very clearly.
    Lazarus was sick and “the sisters sent this message to Jesus, ’Lord, the man you love is ill’” (John 11:3). The implication is that they wanted Jesus to heal him. Jesus heard

their prayer and delayed answering. “Yet when he heard that he was ill He stayed where He was for two more days” (John 11:6). Lazarus, Mary and Martha are the people whom Jesus loves and stay with often, still adversity happened to them. Bad things do happen even to those whom Jesus loves! Three times in this chapter we are told that Jesus loves Lazarus. (John 11:3,5,36) Why does He allow Mary and Martha or us to suffer? Sometime there is a greater purpose to suffering than for God to end our suffering. Suffering develops our faith in Him.
Why does Jesus delay? One reason for His delay is for us to come to have complete faith in Him. Jesus’ delay in answering our prayers is never due to indifference or an inability to act. His delays and His Ways can be confusing because the process God uses to accomplish His will can go against our human logic and common sense. His delay has as its purpose the development of our trust in Him and for our good.
Lazarus was dead for four days. For four days Mary and Martha were in agony and in hopeless and helpless grief over the death of their loved one, Lazarus. Why does Jesus allow such grief to the people He loves? Jesus did not enjoy in the least seeing His loved ones suffer. In fact, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). But Jesus’ focus was on the big picture and the purpose of God that would be accomplished. It took less than one day to travel to where Jesus was to inform Him that Lazarus was sick. By the time Jesus was informed Lazarus was already dead. Jesus knew that God would be glorified to a far greater extent by the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus knew that His disciples, as well as Mary and Martha, would experience quantum leap in faith because He resurrected Lazarus.
What reasons do we need before we will develop a deep faith in Jesus? Do we believe intellectually, based on

what the Bible says that God has the power to answer our prayer but lack the personal faith to believe that God will exercise it now on our behalf? Before Jesus could work His miracle, He has to challenge Martha to demonstrate her faith through sheer obedience to His command to “take away the stone” (John 11:39). Had Martha argued and not removed the stone, there would have been no miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus. What are the stones Jesus commands us to remove? Jesus commands us:

to remove the stones of doubt to remove the stones of rage to remove the stones of fear
to remove the stones of unforgiveness
to remove the stones of unkindness
to remove the stones of hypocrisy
to remove the stones of nagging tongue
to remove the stones of revenge
to remove the stones of envy
to remove the stones of pride
to remove the stones of iniquity
to remove the stones of jealousy
to remove the stones of selfishness
to remove the stones of self-pity,

before He will work His miracles on us. The story of Lazarus is a story of faith and the necessity of placing that faith in Jesus for the miracle to happen.

  1. Suffering calls us to make that quantum leap in our faith.
    No one wants suffering No one likes suffering No one seeks suffering

No one enjoys suffering
No one looks forward to suffering
We do not welcome suffering and pain. Neither did Jesus want suffering. He prayed, ”My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from Me! Yet not what I want, but what You want.” (Matthew 26:39 TEV) “In great anguish He prayed even more fervently; His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”(Luke 22:44 TEV) In His suffering, “An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him.”(Luke 22:43 TEV) So too, we need faith, family and friends to be ministering angels to us. We also need Jesus to strengthen us in our suffering.
When I am overtaken by sickness or adversity I must seek whatever remedies the world affords me. But, will I be tempting God’s divine providence, if I don’t do my best to find a solution? Doesn’t my best mean that I must not be lazy or apathetic or slovenly in my attempts? Thus, I must act and do whatever I can—use my intelligence, experience, consult doctors, family, friends, Internet, experts, prayers and whatever God has put within my reach—and then calmly endure and patiently await the outcome. If God sees fit to cure my sickness or to overcome my adversity I will thank Him joyfully. But if, on the other hand, He permits the sickness or the adversity to persist, I need to vigorously steel and battle myself to surrender to His will for me. Meanwhile, I must still maintain that faith and sing praises to the Lord and rejoice always in His kindness. In another word, pray fervently for the grace to act as Mother Teresa advises: “Accept whatever He gives—and give whatever He takes with a big smile.” (A Gift for God, 46) I have to believe that God will guide my life. I have to believe that joy can come amidst my suffering just as crushed grapes can produce delicious wine. I have to believe that God is

preparing me to “bear much fruit” (John 15:2 TEV). Such an attitude is vital for my long term health and well being.
Suffering is God’s megaphone calling us to Him, calling us to make that quantum leap in our faith and trust in Him. For how do we know the “God of all comfort” if our faith has not been tested by the trials of suffering and pain? St Peter tells us, “Be glad about this, even though it may now be necessary for you to be sad for a while because of
the many kinds of trials you suffer. Their purpose is to prove that your faith is genuine. Even gold, which can be destroyed, is tested by fire; and so your faith, which is much more precious than gold, must also be tested, so that it may endure. Then you will receive praise and glory and honor on the Day when Jesus Christ is revealed.”(1 Peter 1:6-7 TEV) Jesus reminds us that, “not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent” and “you are worth much more than many sparrows!” (Matthew 10:29,31 TEV) We know that we are “children of God” (1 John 3:1 TEV), and that God is “always ready to help (us) in times of trouble” (Psalms 46:1 TEV), and nothing can come into our lives unless He allows it. We have to believe that with all our heart, and look about expectantly for what God is
doing—in us or through us.
One reason why God allows us to have trials and adversity is for us to discover and learn for ourselves, through our own personal experience, “how very great is His power at work in us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:19 TEV)
God allows suffering as one of the ways He grabs our attention to truly and fully turn to Him. We are therefore encouraged to continue to seek His comfort, His support and His strength. We are also encouraged not to view the present situation as one, which should only be endured until relief comes. We know that in our world, we learn to mature

and grow through difficult, challenging and painful experiences. So, we have to face our suffering and we have to befriend our suffering. We have to patiently live through our suffering. We have to let our suffering bear fruit in our hearts.
God allows suffering to be a means of discipline through which faith, love, patience and grace may be cultivated in our lives. When we pray and let Jesus live near our hurts, we will learn how He uses our suffering to mould and draw us closer to Him. We can be sure that God in His divine purpose desires to bring about in us the greatest good because He loves us.
The great secret in life is that suffering can become a source of new hope and new life. We know: no hardened ground can bear fruit if it is not broken up by the plough; no grain can become bread if it is not ground and baked; and no rough diamond can be transformed to its true brilliance if it is not cut and polished. So, in like manner, if our hearts are hard like stone, it will not bear fruit; but our lives can be fruitful if our hearts are opened up and softened through suffering.
Our hearts are then renewed to help others.

  1. Equip us to Help, Comfort and Counsel others
    If we want to be used by God, if we want to be “fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed” (2 Timothy 3:17 TEV), we will have to travel the road of suffering at some point in our life. For how can anyone lead others out of the jungle if he has never been there? St Paul tells us that; “God helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God. Just as we have a share in Christ’s many sufferings, so also through Christ we share in God’s great help.”(2

Corinthians 1:4-5 TEV) “(God) comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”(2 Corinthians 1:4-5 NIV) “He supports us in every hardship, so that we are able to come to the support of others, in every hardship of theirs because of the encouragement that we ourselves receive from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow into our lives; so too does the encouragement we receive through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:4-5 NJB)
As Christians, we have been helped, comforted and supported by Jesus in our suffering. We are, therefore, called or challenged to make visible Jesus’ love for all suffering humanity, by helping, supporting, comforting and being patiently present to all suffering individuals who come our way. Indeed, we need to be ministering angels to one another, to give one another comfort, consolation, courage and strength to move on in life and not be locked in the prison of our past suffering, trial, pain and/or hardship.
However, in helping or comforting others, we must not forget what Mother Teresa says, “Don’t give in to discouragement. No more must you do so when you try to settle a marriage crisis or convert a sinner and don’t succeed. If you are discouraged, it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own powers. Never bother about people’s opinions. Be humble and you will never be disturbed. It is very difficult in practice because we all want to see the result of our work. Leave it to Jesus.” (Contemplative at the Heart of the World, 107)
To learn any lesson quickly, remember the acronym: “When you ASK, you must LISTEN to and LEARN from
the main ideas (ACEs) that are given.”

Appendix 7

Shall We Pray for the Healing of Disease by J R Miller

All the passages below are taken from J R Miller, “Intimate Letters on Personal Problems.” Dear friend,
I am glad to read your letter over, and yet I am very sorry for the things that are causing you added anxiety. It certainly must be very sad for you all to have your little child grow worse again, thus disappointing so many fond hopes.

You ask about prayer in such cases. There is always a difficulty in making oneself understand, or even in formulating our own beliefs on the subject of prayer when matters like sickness are concerned. There is no question whatever that God hears all our prayers. He is our Father, and no human father in the world was ever so truly interested in any of his children, as God is in each one of us.

Jesus said, “Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.” We are sure, therefore, that in one sense God does not need to be told anything about our lives. He hears the prisoner’s sigh, and the twittering of the sparrows when they are hungering for food on the winter days. With regard to the answer, however, we must remember that God is wise as well as good. He takes in, not merely the present day and tomorrow — but also the future. He

never allows us to take from the treasury of his blessings a temporal good or gift, which will imperil our future spiritual good. He is too kind not to cause us pain
— when pain is the best thing for us. This is about all I can say on this matter. The teaching, however, is this, that we should trust the wisdom of God to decide the manner of the answer to prayer, quite as much as we trust the love of God for sympathy and tenderness in our suffering.

There is something else to say also. No doubt there is a great deal of what may be called vicarious suffering in this world. If you read the story of Job you will learn that it was not particularly for his own sanctification, that the trouble came upon him — but for the confuting of Satan’s accusations or charges, and the witnessing before the world to the power of God’s grace to sustain and strengthen. We look with broken-hearted compassion upon a suffering child.
Over and over again when I have sat by such a child, watching its anguish and pain, my heart has been most deeply stirred, and I have been led to ask, “Why must this child suffer in this way?” There was no reason in the child, that I could see. Yet I have seen over and over again a whole household not only brought to Christ, but enriched in spiritual life, and blessed immeasurably through the suffering of a little child.

I knew a young girl who had the very trouble of which your sister’s child is suffering — “white swelling.” Year after year until perhaps she was eighteen, this child suffered most excruciating anguish. She clung to me very fondly as I often went in to see her to say something cheerful to her and make a little prayer by her bedside. I would not attempt today to give a reason why this innocent, sweet, beautiful child

was permitted to suffer during those six or seven years until she died. I can only say that one of the results of that suffering was the enriching of the whole household in a most wondrous way. She has been dead now for thirteen or fourteen years — but the memory of her beautiful face and sweet spirit — her patience and peace and love — lingers in the hearts of her father and mother.

Only yesterday a letter came to me from the father, on a little business matter, and in it he referred to the invalid, as he always does and as the mother always does when they write to me or when I meet them. I can testify that for myself, the ministry upon that child was an education. I think few things in all my experience ever have affected me so deeply, have left plainer or more indubitable marks upon my character, than her sweet life left.
I merely give you this incident to help you to understand my answer about prayer. God does not promise to answer all prayers in a literal way at once. We must submit our prayers to his wisdom — asking him to do the thing that is best. It may be best for the child to suffer, for who knows what childhood’s suffering may do in the preparation of a spirit for service near God’s throne, ages and ages hence? The only true thought of life which I can get, is that which thinks of it as one continuous existence, not limited by seventy or eighty years at the most — but stretching on beyond into the eternities.

We say a child lives in vain, if it is sick for ten or twelve or fourteen years and then dies of a long, agonizing illness. No, we dare not say that. Some people even call God cruel because he permits such suffering in an

innocent and beautiful child. But here again, we know not what to say. I believe that life in this world is at best, only a preparation for future existence. If I am spared for sixty or seventy or eighty years, and then go home, what I have passed through in this world in the way of suffering, of struggle, of defeat, of victory, of joy or of sorrow
— will all go into the preparation for my real life, which will begin the morning after I get home to Heaven, and go on forever. So we cannot say, we dare not say, that any child’s anguish and pain are in vain, or that the life which is filled with such experiences here, is in any sense a useless life. The suffering purifies the spirit, lifts up the heart toward God, makes the character stronger and truer, and gives new tenderness and new sympathy to the person.

Then who can tell what the influence may be upon the loved ones who stand about the child’s bed and witness its sufferings? While their hearts are breaking with sympathy and anguish, if they keep near Christ — their very suffering will help to sweeten their own lives and fit them for larger, better service. Nothing draws out the best things in life — as care for a suffering one does. Many a mother is made angelic in her spirit, Christlike, almost divine, by being called to minister, month after month, in the sick room of her own child.

Let me now answer the question about prayer — that God does always hear prayer — if the prayer is sincere and true. And also that he answers prayer, not always literally in a physical sense. We can breathe up our prayers to God and know that they will be answered in the best way. One of the most beautiful pictures in the book of Revelation is that of the “vials full of incense, which are the

prayers of saints” which John saw. The picture suggests first that all prayer is fragrant to God — incense; and, second, that the prayers that rise to Heaven are not lost, even though not answered immediately. They are kept as in vials, before God, in safety, until the time comes for their answering.

What you and I want, therefore, is not only a simple faith but also a large faith, taking in all time and all eternity, a faith not only in the wonderful love of God, but also in the wisdom of God.

You will understand that I have been thinking a great deal about your sister as I have read your letter and dictated these words. My prayer goes up to God for her, that her faith may be strengthened and that her own heart may be sweetened and enriched by the grace of God, as she keeps her loving mother- watch about her suffering child.

Do not let me give the impression that God never answers prayer for healing. I think he does. I think that all healing is wrought by Christ. We must always send for the physician and use all the means within our reach, for this is ordinarily God’s way of helping us. But we fail if when using the means we do not also pray to God. The best means are of no avail, unless God uses them and blesses them. While, therefore, we have the physician and employ all available skill and use every means within our power to bring back restored health
— we must take the case to God and leave it ever in his hands.

Appendix 8

Blessings and Curses

Without realising, we tend to curse ourselves. That cannot be so. That must be a joke. For who in his right senses would want to curse himself. Yet, unconsciously, we curse ourselves often. How can that be so?
See how Father Henri Nouwen explains about blessings and curses:
“It is an on going temptation to think of our lives as living under a curse. The loss of a friend, an illness, an accident, a natural disaster, a war, or any failure can make us quickly think that we are no good and are being punished. This temptation to think of our lives as full of curses is even greater when all the media present us day after day with stories about human misery.
Jesus came to bless us, not to curse us. But we must choose to receive that blessing and hand it on to others.
Blessings and curses are always placed in front of us. We are to choose. God says, ‘Choose the blessings!’” (Bread for the Journey, Sept 8)

“To bless means to say good things. We have to bless one another constantly. Parents need to bless their children, children their parents, husbands their wives, wives their husbands, friends their friends. In our society, so full of curses, we must fill each place we enter with our blessings. We forget so quickly that we are God’s beloved children and allow the many curses of our world to darken our hearts. Therefore, we have to be reminded of our belovedness and remind others of theirs. Whether the blessing is given in words or with gestures, in a solemn

or an informal way, our lives need to be blessed lives.” (Bread for the Journey, Sept 7)

So, we bless ourselves:

When we give thanks with a grateful heart. When we bless our family and others
When we listen to the quiet, inner voice that says good things about ourselves.
When we affirm ourselves and know that we have given the best of ourselves in whatever we have worked on.
When we shut out the loud, busy outer voice that says we are being punished.

We bless others:

When we speak good things about them and to them.
When we show by our gestures that their presence is a joy to us.
When we reveal to them their gifts, their goodness and their talents.

  1. Our reactions immediately after an unpleasant event happens

When we lose our job, when we have an abusive boss, when a car accident happens, when we are robbed, when we are seriously ill, when we have cancer, the immediate question “Why?” emerges. “Why me?” “Why now?” “Why here?” “What have I done wrong?” “Why am I being punished?” It is so difficult to live without an answer to this “Why?” But, if we are too focused and obsessed with finding the answers

to these questions of the causes of these events, we are more likely to end up being angry and bitter. Bitterness will turn us away from God and thus we curse ourselves.

In order to help me see my suffering and pain in a new light, I have to change my focus. Now that the unpleasant event has happened, what should my response be? By concentrating on my response, I am more likely to end up turning to God, trusting Him and blessing myself. How is this done? Mother Teresa advised, “Just accept whatever He gives and give whatever He takes with a big smile.” (The Wisdom of Mother Teresa, 42) Who can do that? I can’t do it. It is impossible for me to accept with a smile this suffering and adversity. Whenever I say ‘it is impossible,’ I have inadvertently put a curse on
myself! I have shut out all possibilities. But I may be able to accept it with a smile, if I truly believe that “God loves me” (John 15:9 TEV) and that “I am precious to Him” (Isaiah 43:4 TEV). How? This requires a change in mindset and heart- set because if I am precious to God, then it stands to reason that He cares for me and knows my suffering and hardships and that He has permitted, allowed, sent or given them to me. Furthermore, I will surely be able to smile if I turn to God and wholeheartedly believe that with God’s help all things are possible as, “This is impossible with human beings, but for God everything is possible” (Matthew 19:26 TEV). When I embrace this truth, I bless myself.
Therefore, I must trust that God has allowed the suffering to be a means of discipline through which faith, love, patience and grace may be cultivated in my life. God will not allow my suffering and pain to be wasted and to be of no value to me. God will see me through my suffering and will carry me through it all but I have

to keep reminding myself that, ”I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” (Philippians 4:13 TEV) And “God has given us a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 TEV). This belief, this constant repetition will help me to face my suffering and hardships in a new perspective. What I need to do is to turn to God, do my best under the circumstances and trust Him to turn it round for my good. God promises to take “all things” including suffering, abuses, evil things, and turn them round for good as “in all things God works for good with those who love Him”(Romans 8:28 TEV).

But what is for our good? This is for the individual to pray and with God’s help to discover. He needs to constantly search for himself answers to the questions: “What is the seed of equivalent good in my suffering?” “What is the seed of equivalent benefit in my adversity?” Some good traits which we may develop can be more patience, more consideration, less arrogance and less resentment.

Remember, all God requires of us is to come to Him in prayer and trust Him completely. Trust Him to turn our lives around. He will not fail us because we can trust God “who always keeps His promise.” (1 Peter 4:19 TEV) We do our part and give of our best and He will do His part. When we turn to God, God will work WITH us to turn the suffering and pain round for our good. The circumstances, the pain, the suffering, the hardship or the adversity may still be there and may not change much BUT our response and internal attitude towards them will certainly change. Yes, we can take God at His Word that He will help us, comfort us, strengthen us and support us through our pain and suffering. Then, suffering

can become a turning point from which we take our greatest leap forward in our faith in God. When we trust God, God gives us the hope and courage to look suffering in the face and to go through it confidently with a renewed spirit and heart. Our suffering will, hopefully, turn us round to come in closer touch with the presence of God in our lives. The great secret in life is that suffering can become a source of new hope and new life. We will then learn to accept it with a smile. This is indeed a blessing.

  1. Our memory of events long after they happened

How we recount these unpleasant experiences is also vitally important. When we constantly recount them:

with blaming God, with blaming others, with cursing our fate, with anger,
with fear, with regret,
with the feeling of being victimised,

then we put these events under the curse. When we feel we are being punished, the feeling of being cursed comes easily. We will hear an inner voice calling us “bad,” “rotten,” “worthless,” “useless,” “doomed to sickness and death.” We darken our hearts and live our lives with bitterness and resentment. So, we unconsciously curse ourselves.
But blessing is nothing more than recounting positively these events:

with what God has helped us to endure or overcome,
with what patience our family and friends have stood by us,
with what we have learnt out of the events, and with hope, courage and love.

Then we put these experiences under the blessing and we consciously bless ourselves.

Henri Nouwen says, “In Latin, to bless is benedicere. The word ‘benediction’ that is used in many churches means literally: speaking (dictio) well (bene) or saying good things of someone. That speaks to me. I need to hear good things said of me, and I know how much you have the same need. Nowadays, we often say: ‘We have to affirm each other.’ Without affirmations, it is hard to live well. To give someone a blessing is the most significant affirmation we can offer. It is more than a word of praise
or appreciation; it is more than pointing out someone’s talents or good deeds; it is more than putting someone in the light. To give a blessing is to affirm, to say ‘yes’ to a person’s Belovedness. And more than that: to give a blessing creates the reality of which it speaks. There is a lot of mutual admiration in this world, just as there is a lot of mutual condemnation. A blessing goes beyond the distinction between admiration or condemnation, between virtues or vices, between good deeds or evil deeds. A blessing touches the original goodness of the other and calls forth his or her Belovedness.” (Life of the Beloved, 56)

“Physical, mental or emotional pain lived under the blessing is experienced in ways radically different from physical, mental or emotional pain lived under the

curse. Even a small burden, perceived as a sign of our worthlessness, can lead us to deep depression. But, great and heavy burdens become light and easy when they are lived in the light of the blessing. What seems intolerable becomes a challenge. What seems a reason for despair becomes a source of hope. What seems punishment becomes a gentle pruning from God. What seems rejection becomes a way to a deeper communion with God. And so the great task becomes that of allowing the blessing to touch us in our brokenness.
Then our brokenness will gradually come to be seen as an opening towards the full acceptance of ourselves as the Beloved children of God. This explains why true joy can be experienced in the midst of great suffering. It is the joy of being disciplined, purified and pruned. Just as athletes who experience great pain as they run the race can, at the same time, taste the joy of knowing that they are coming closer to their goal, so also can the Beloved experience suffering as a way to deeper communion with God. Here joy and sorrow are no longer each other’s opposites, but have become the two sides of the same desire to grow to the fullness of the Beloved.” (Life of the Beloved, 79-80)

For this blessed attitude to take root, we have to have deep faith that God loves us unconditionally and that we are the beloved children of God, very precious to Him.

God sent Jesus to bless us, “God. . . sent Him to bless you” (Acts 3:26 NJB) and Jesus himself has blessed us with every spiritual blessing, “our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings” (Ephesians 1:3 NJB). Jesus shows us by His Words and Deeds how to live a blessed life, “Blessed are those who do His

commandments” (Revelation 22:14 NKJV). Jesus creates a whole new blessed environment for us to dwell in and, ”how happy are those who hear the word of God and obey it!” (Luke 11:28 TEV) We have to choose to stay in that place with Him and to hand His blessings on to others to make our blessings grow and multiply.

Remember, every curse, blame, gossip, accusation and punishment does, is to bring us down. But every blessing, encouragement, affirmation, praise, reward and forgiveness lifts our spirit up and makes us grow more beautifully. So, consciously and deliberately, choose blessing on every occasion.

Appendix 9

Living Life by Grace

All the passages below are taken from Pablo Martinez’s book “A Thorn in the Flesh,” published in 2007.

To accept does not mean to indulge in suffering, nor to endure it with fatalism, nor to become hardened from painful trials … nor to try and forget it with time. It is to offer it to God so He can make it bear fruit. For this reason it is neither reasoned, nor invented, nor understood: it is a spiritual experience.1

The change in Paul is surprising: from a man constantly struggling, pleading intensely with God to remove his thorn, he makes an about turn and affirms with complete conviction, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses' (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV). How did he undergo such a complete transformation? The quote from Paul Tournier gives us the clue:it is a spiritual experience’. We saw earlier how acceptance could ultimately be achieved only by the grace of God. We call this the supernatural ingredient in the process of acceptance: it depends on faith and is not obtained by any other technical means, but through a personal encounter with the God of the Bible. In order to surmount the thorn, in addition to the valuable therapeutic resources that science offers us, we must discover and experience this supernatural strength that transforms weaknesses into strengths.
This takes us back to the text in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, where we find the keys that transformed the apostle Paul so

profoundly that he was able to exclaim, `For when I am weak, then I am strong’ (v.10). It was through permanent fellowship with his Lord that Paul received the ingredient that was decisive in his acceptance of the thorn: grace. Let us consider, first of all, God’s answer.

God’s answer
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

Several times Paul asks the Lord to remove the thorn from him. The answer to this fervent prayer is not liberation but provision of what is necessary to live with joy in the midst of his chronic suffering. God does not take away, but gives! We must emphasize this principle because it is fundamental for understanding how God sees our thorn. For us the solution' consists in eliminating the problem. God's vision, however, is very different: what is most important is not the absence of suffering but rather his presence in the midst of suffering and the resources his presence affords us. What are these resources? The answer is found in two words, each alluding to their respective resources for accepting the thorn: grace and power. Actually, they are intimately related because power---or strength---is the result of grace. Note the emphasis of the text on the divine origin of both resources. What in English appears as a simple possessive adjective,my’, in the original is in the genitive which translates literally as the power of me' andthe grace of me’, a grammatical structure that seeks to underline its ownership. This emphasis confirms our point: there are resources that transcend a person’s ability or capability and go far beyond any psychological technique or

social measure. These resources come from God and can be obtained only through a spiritual experience.

Grace: My grace is sufficient for you' We have before us one of the most wonderful declarations in the entire Bible. This statement, as brief as it is powerful, has been a source of comfort to thousands of believers dealing with weaknesses and trials. Here we find the heart of the struggle against the thorn. This was the fundamental lesson that Paul needed to learn. The word grace’ rises majestically in the middle of the passage like a climax. We are reaching the peak of the mountain. The road we have travelled up to this point has been long, sometimes torturous and arduous. Now we have before our eyes the end of the road: my grace', this grace that is not a cold theological concept but rather the power of God operating in very specific ways in a person and in their circumstances. Grace takes us before the very majesty of God, because, as Thomas Aquinas wrote in his main work Summa Theologica,grace is nothing else but a certain beginning of glory in us’.
It is worth asking why God answers Paul in such a brief way. What can six words do in the face of so many years of inner struggle and unexplainable suffering? It seems legitimate to infer that God, with his emphatic brevity, wants to make it clear that there is only one way to the final victory over the thorn. We can paraphrase what Jesus said to Martha and apply it to grace: You are very worried and upset about the thorn, but only one thing is needed. My grace is sufficient for you.' So what does this expressionmy grace is sufficient for you’ mean? And, especially, how does it affect our acceptance of the thorn? As some

commentators point out, Calvin among them, the word grace alludes to the constant aid of the Holy Spirit, which comes to us from the unmerited favour of God. Therefore, not only have we the wonderful gift of God that one day saved us, the saving grace, but also the immense wealth of practical help that he supplies us with every day. Grace is the sum of supernatural resources that come freely from God and enable us to battle against the thorn with divine power. The essential difference between a believing and a non-believing person as they face the thorn lies precisely here: in their resources. The suffering can be the same for both, but the believer has certain assets that are not available to the person who does not have a personal faith in God. Later we will consider the valuable components that grace contains.
In what sense is grace sufficient? Paul receives just the amount he needs for his acceptance to be all the more gladly' (v. 9) and todelight in’ (v. 10). It’s not a matter of merely enduring the thorn or of surviving in the midst of the trial. Such an attitude is not sufficient. It’s not good when we accept thorns reluctantly, just because we have no other choice. God does not want this kind of forced acceptance, which is closer to stoic resignation. The level of sufficiency that God asks of us is much higher. He doesn’t want grouchy' children but children who are, in Paul's memorable expression, more than conquerors’ (Romans 8:37).

Power: For my power is made perfect in weakness' The second sentence begins withfor’, in the sense of
`because’, and is an explanation that expands the previous claim. Paul, the man who had previously been transformed by divine grace in a number of facets of his life, probably did not need this explanation, but we do! The Lord does not simply tell

Paul to be content with his grace, as if it were an order. The phrase is not imperative, as in I order you to...' God is not an authoritarian despot. Like a father who seeks not only to console but also to convince, he offers Paul a powerful reason. When struggling with a thorn, a person needs explanations that are indispensable for genuine acceptance. That is why the exhortation is accompanied by a convincing explanation:my power is made perfect in weakness’. Here is the secret that helps us understand why God’s grace was sufficient. No wonder this passage has become a permanent source of inspiration to all of us who suffer from a thorn.

The great paradox: when I am weak, then I am strong' (v. 10) Logically, a weakness is an obstacle and a limitation. This was how Paul understood his thorn. The lesson that the apostle must now learn is that God's way of thinking is completely different from ours. It is not that Paul's thorn does not bother the Almighty, but that right there---in the weakness---is where the Lord can show his power. And, what's more, it is even perfected in weakness. This is why Paul goes on to affirm: Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).
An illustration that Jesus used helps us to understand this paradox. He said of himself, I am the light of the world ... the light shines in the darkness' (John 8:12; 1:5). The light of Christ can shine much more brightly during moments of darkness. It is in thedark night of the soul’, an expression used by John of the Cross and other Spanish mystics, that we begin to understand this great paradox: in the dark tunnel of my thorn—when I am

weak—the light of Christ shines brightest because nothing is camouflaging it. It is then that I am strong because the greater the darkness, the brighter the radiance of his light.
This points to a transcendental matter that goes far beyond the problem of the thorn. It contains a vital principle regarding the relationship between a person and their Creator. A huge obstacle in approaching God is feeling strong, or self- sufficient. Fantasies of omnipotence—the desire to be like God—have been a constant in the history of humankind ever since Adam and Eve were tempted and fell into this sin of self-sufficiency. Pride, one of the main sources of our rebellion against God, becomes a great hindrance to faith. Why? Because it tends to become accentuated when things are going well for us, making us feel very important'. If you believe you are like a demigod, there is no place for the real God in your heart. On the other hand, the feeling of weakness, whether physical, moral or existential, tends to be fertile ground for faith in God and for his power to be made manifest. Of course, it is not always like this. We find notable atheists who suffered greatly, such as Nietzsche, who was tormented by the lacerating thorn of a dreadful disease that led to his insanity. But, many times, behind the utterance of the wordsI don’t need God’ hides the sin of the church in Laodicea: pride. You say, "I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing." But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked' (Revelation 3:17). Are we then to conclude that faith is only for weaklings? Or, following Nietzsche's idea, does one have to be sufficiently sick to become a Christian? An exploration of this topic goes beyond the purpose of this book, so I can touch on it only briefly. If we understandweak’ to mean people of low

intellectual capacity or ability, then the answer is clearly no'. There are shining examples in God's Word and in history of men and women with privileged minds, noteworthy and brilliant leaders in all areas of human knowledge, who had a deep faith in God. But, in another sense,yes’. Faith is for the weak, for those who feel they are poor'---as in the first of the beatitudes---when they consider their smallness and their worthlessness in the face of God's greatness and holiness. Jesus himself makes it fully clear to us when he says,It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’ (Luke 5:31-32). Who are the weak to whom the gospel is directed? Those who realize they are sinners. This kind of moral and existential weakness is the exact opposite of pride and self-sufficiency: it is the humility that Paul had to learn precisely through the experience of the thorn. The purpose of the thorn was to prevent arrogance, `to keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations’ (v. 7).
How does grace operate in reality? In the following chapters we will consider the manifold treasures of grace in relation to the thorn experience, from new strength to a new set of values that give us a new reason to live.

Grace in action: the therapeutic effects of grace
… in order that … he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7 NIV).

Some people claim that they don’t need God because, if they’re badly off, he’ll only make them feel worse. How does one come to think like that? It is very difficult to understand the message of the gospel if God’s grace is not properly understood. Therefore, within the ranks of

atheism are a multitude of people who rejected God without really knowing him. Among the most convinced atheists, we frequently find experiences based on a God who is severe and merciless. This leads to a legalistic and crushing gospel that ends up being rejected. A well- known example is the Swedish film-maker Ingmar Bergman. When he was a child, the rigid and severe faith of his father had a negative influence on Bergman, leading him eventually to a religious and existential crisis which appeared constantly in his films. The God of the Bible is the God of all grace' (1 Peter 5:10), and the heart of the gospel---its deepest essence---is found in grace. When you do not understand this basic reality, faith becomes a burden. The whole gospel is about grace. For example: the greeting used at the beginning of many epistles is quite significant:Grace and peace be unto you from our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Grace and peace are the two words that summarize the entire gospel. There is no better summary of the Christian faith. There is a cause-and-effect relationship between the two words: the ultimate source of peace is found in understanding and applying divine grace. Grace leads to peace. And it is here that we start to understand that the wounds of any thorn need the healing effect of the grace and peace of Jesus Christ.
So what is grace, for that matter? We can compare it to a treasure containing several precious stones—the riches of which Paul speaks. The best-known is salvation: `For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God’ (Ephesians 2:8). Above all, grace saves us. This saving effect of grace has become the main pillar of the evangelical creed, as the sixteenth- century Reformation reminds us with its emphasis on sola gratia. The forgiveness of sins and the justification in

Christ (Romans 5:1) that frees us from eternal condemnation is the first precious stone of grace.
But the effects of grace do not end with salvation.
Grace is not only a thing of the past, but continues to manifest itself every day in the life of the believer. We could say that we live `wrapped’ in grace. Therefore we were first saved by grace, but we live under, in, by grace (the list of prepositions could continue!).
Sometimes we give so much emphasis to salvation by grace that we forget about life by grace.

Let us now consider three of the main soothing effects of grace when living with a thorn:

• renewed strength: grace empowers
• change: grace transforms
• maturity: grace teaches.

Renewed strength: grace empowers
So that Christ’s power may rest on me… (2 Corinthians


I can do everything through him who gives me strength
(Philippians 4:13).

The first therapeutic effect of grace is the renewal of our strength. In a broad sense, grace equips us with God’s power so that we can live morally righteous lives. This divine empowering is essential in enabling us to behave on a par with the demands of the gospel. We cannot aspire `to be holy’ by our own strength. Humanly speaking, the Christian life is not difficult—it’s impossible! This is why we have to turn to

this grace that enables us daily to live in a manner pleasing to God. Paul himself reminds us of our dependency on God: For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose' (Philippians 2:13). In a more specific sense, grace strengthens us in our inabilities, weaknesses or suffering. It is in this context that it appears closely related to the wordpower’ in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. In order to better understand how our strength is renewed, let us return to the text of Philippians 4:13: I can do everything through him who gives me strength.' The wordstrength’ in the original comes from the same word, dynamis, that in 2 Corinthians 12 is translated as power'. It alludes to an enormous power, not just any power---the worddynamite’ is derived from it.
What does this sentence really mean? If we do not understand it properly it can be more a source of frustration than a blessing. On the other hand, a complete understanding of its wealth is the key to accepting our thorn. The idea of the text is that when I am in Christ I can triumph over—I can be stronger than—any situation because he strengthens me. As some versions correctly translate, in Christ we find the strength to face anything'. Note that the verbto do’ does not occur in the text. The emphasis is not on action but on attitude, an attitude of victory. Paul is not saying that in Christ we can do everything that we propose. Being in Christ does not turn us into demigods. As Christians we sometimes harbour
`Superman’ fantasies and believe that we have unlimited abilities. This verse is a declaration of sure victory in Christ. It is the attitude of trust and courage that challenges the enemy, in this case the thorn, with

the certainty of triumph. It is a serious warning against defeatism.
We find a similar idea in Romans 8:28-39, one of the most light-bearing of texts for someone travelling down the dark tunnel of a thorn. Towards the end of this hymn of unshakeable trust, and after mentioning a long list of thorns, Paul affirms: `… in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us’. But in what sense are we more than conquerors? This introduces us to the second therapeutic effect of grace.

Change: grace transforms
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses. . . .
The therapeutic effects of grace are progressive and interdependent. The new strength gives way to a profound change that would be impossible were it not for this prior fortitude. In other words, the renewed strength is the foundation upon which a new structure is now going to be built. Here also we will look firstly at a more general aspect of change, and see later how it applies specifically to the thorn. The believer is continuously experiencing an inner transformation that moulds him or her into the image of Christ. The word used in the original is metamorphoumetha (2 Corinthians 3:18), and its purpose focuses on our becoming more and more like him every day. This process is very similar to the ripening of fruit or the growth of a child. In fact, the word
mature' orperfect’—teleios appears numerous times in this
context of transformation. It is the same word that we find in Philippians 1:6: being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus'. It is in this general sense that Paul affirms:by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not

without effect’ (1 Corinthians 15:10). The apostle’s transformation, which changed him from persecutor' topersecuted’ (vv. 8-9), is a tremendous example of the transforming power of grace.
What effects does this transforming grace have on the thorn? This same aspect of maturing or growth appears in the phrase my power is perfected in weakness' (2 Corinthians 12:9). Let us notice, first of all, the conjunction therefore’. It is the link that joins God’s key answer, in the first part of verse to, to Paul’s reaction. In other words, there is a clear cause-and-effect relationship between the answer from the Lord and the consequences experienced. When God speaks to the heart, something changes.
God can change the circumstances, and certainly this does at times happen. But, above all, God changes people. And when this occurs, even the very same circumstances seem different, as if we are seeing a totally different landscape. That was Paul’s experience. His thorn continued as it always had: the same pain, the same humiliation. But something had changed in an extraordinary way. In verse 10 the apostle does not seem to be the same person writing in verse 7. What has happened? Grace, this multifaceted treasure of divine resources, has produced in Paul a transformation of attitudes.
In the previous chapter we considered acceptance more from a psychological angle. Now we will take a closer look at how this change is produced from a spiritual angle. Three main changes guided by the Holy Spirit make a profound spiritual experience:

• the perspective changes: God’s binoculars
• attitudes change: the thorn loses its sting
• the situation itself changes: God opens up paths in the desert.

The Perspective changes: God’s binoculars

So that the strength and power of Christ may pitch a tent over and dwell upon me (v. 9, Amplified Bible).

God does not remove the thorn from Paul, but he does take away his negative thoughts about it.
Remember the main purpose of cognitive therapy is to learn to think positively, and the first step in this process consists of identifying and replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones. The next step—sowing positive thoughts—now appears clearly in the text. Actually, a single thought was enough: My power is made perfect in weakness.' The Lord dealt with Paul like a perfect psychologist. Once this seed is growing in his mind, Paul is able to assimilate the idea and make it his with conviction. Something decisive occurs which is the key to accepting the thorn: he changes his perspective. It is as if the Lord gave him new glasses or, better still, a pair of binoculars. Paul sees the same reality but from a totally new perspective; the new lens has increased his field of vision to limits that were previously inaccessible. Now he sees what God sees; his view of the thorn approaches God's. What does he see now? Let us imagine the following dialogue between the apostle and the Lord:Paul, what you consider a hindrance is actually a useful instrument in my hands.’
In what way, Lord? That's hard for me to understand.' The thorn is an opportunity for my power to rest upon you. What you see as a curse is in reality a blessing. I can use something bad for good.’
In essence, a self-centred lens is replaced by
a Christ-centred lens. Before, when Paul looked at his

thorn, he saw a poor man buffeted by suffering, an unjust and undeserved situation. He felt wretched and maybe even forgotten by his Lord, a vision that arises from introspection. Now, every time he suffers the scourges of the thorn, he sees Christ and his power
resting' upon him. One translation renders the same idea in a more poetic way:So that the strength and power of Christ may pitch a tent over and dwell upon me’ (Amplified Bible).
What a refreshing panorama in the midst of the dryness of the thorn. It is the difference between looking at the
`basement’ of life or lifting my eyes to the heights where God is.

Attitudes change: the thorn loses its sting

That is why … I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions (v. 10).

Naturally, this change of lens produces a change in attitude. We must not forget that it all springs from the bedrock of renewed strength. Continuing with the imaginary dialogue, Paul now says, Lord, this is marvellous; I had never thought about how different everything was for you. Now I discover that my weaknesses become your opportunities. If this is the way it is, I will very happily bear this problem. Not only will I not complain but I will also rejoice because I know that my limitations are the window through which the splendour of your power shines.' We discover at least three attitudes that have changed in Paul: Joy instead of complaint:That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses…’ (v. 10). Remember that joy is much deeper than a feeling. It is the serene conviction that `in

all these things we are more than conquerors’ because no one and nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord' (Romans 8:37-39). Voluntary submission instead of defiance: Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses’ (v. 9). His struggle to get rid of the thorn gives way to full submission to the cup' of suffering that the Lord allows in his life. Worship instead of self-pity. Even though worship does not appear explicitly in the text, it is implicit in the attitudes of the apostle that glorify God. Worship and praise in a believer's life are not restricted to special moments but are inseparable from his or her entire behaviour; they are not primarily activities but attitudes. With these new attitudes, Paul shows us that although the thorn still buffets him from time to time, it has lost its sting. Because the thorn's greatest danger lies not in the physical pain it may cause, or even in its emotional disturbances, but in the way it poisons attitudes, for then you focus on self-pity, defiance and bitterness. The persistence of such attitudes ultimatelykills’ any desire to live. This is why for God it is much more important to eliminate these attitudes than to remove the thorn itself. Paul has come out triumphant because he has eliminated the sting of his thorn.

The situation changes: God opens up a way in the desert

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up …
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)

We have seen how grace transforms people. But grace goes even further than that; it can change situations and circumstances. We are not referring here to the normal adaptation that occurs at the end of the adjustment period, but to supernatural changes brought about by the power of God through his grace.
The metaphor of the desert and the wasteland that God uses in Isaiah to give his people hope for a different future has some relevance here. The thorn can continue for many years, sometimes throughout our life; as in the case of Paul. But in the midst of this drought and barrenness, God provides refreshing oases—a way in the desert and streams in loneliness'---that renew our strength and enable us to continue. In the first part of the verse (Isaiah 43:19), the expressionI am doing a new thing’ literally means `a new shoot’, like a tree that, in the spring, produces tender new roots, full of life after a long and gruelling winter.
The harsh winter is followed by an outburst of new life in the spring, with excitement and new strength. With this double metaphor, God communicates to his people a solid hope for a different future. This can also be the experience of the person afflicted by a thorn when he or she experiences transforming grace.
What are these roads in the desert and the waters in a sterile land? I will mention two of them: the roads that lead us to discover the other side of pain and find specific ways out of the trial, illustrated by the striking example of Joseph in Genesis.

Discovering the other side of pain
One of the most outstanding—and healing—effects of contemplating the thorn from God’s perspective is discovering the `other side’ of suffering. Up to this point, Paul has known only an entirely negative side of the thorn: it

hurts; it humiliates, it buffets me' (NKJV). It is what we would call the evil of pain. The other side of the coin is the good in pain. The preposition here is very important: we are not saying the good of pain but rather the good in pain. Suffering in itself is always something undesirable, and we must not make the mistake of glorifying’ it.
As John Stott says, we cannot thank God for absolutely everything, including blatant evil. The strange notion is gaining popularity in some Christian circles that the major secret of Christian freedom and victory is unconditional praise ... and that even the most appalling calamities of life should become subjects for thanksgiving and praise ... God abominates evil, and we cannot praise or thank him for what he abominates." In fact, to give thanks to God for circumstances of suffering can border on blasphemy. There is an important difference betweengiving thanks for’ and giving thanks in the midst of'. In all the epistles we are exhorted to give thanks in everything---for example, in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. The only time in which the phrasealways giving thanks to God the Father for everything’ (Ephesians 5:20) appears, it is immediately conditioned by the expression in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ'. In other words, it must be consistent with the nature and will of Christ himself. Therefore, I am to maintain an attitude of gratitude and praise in the midst of the pain caused by this thorn. This is exactly what David did in numerous psalms written in his literal desert---when he hid there, fleeing from Saul, histhorn’—as well as in his metaphorical desert—the many years of apparently sterile life. One example is Psalm 57, written when David escaped from Saul to the cave of Adullam. In verse 4 he describes his deep anguish: `I am in the midst of lions; I lie among ravenous beasts—men whose teeth are

spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.’ But in the midst of these circumstances—death threats—he bursts out in a serene exclamation of praise that becomes a beautiful hymn of trust:

Be exalted, 0 God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

They spread a net for my feet—
I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
but they have fallen into it themselves.

My heart is steadfast, 0 God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

I will praise you, 0 Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Be exalted, 0 God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.
(Psalm 57:5-11)

To discover this other side of suffering is to experience that `in all things God works for the good of those who love him’ (Romans 8:28). Here we are touching on one of the most mysterious aspects of grace: at the same time something glorious and difficult

to understand. We are standing on holy ground', which we approach both with reverence and with perplexity, like Moses on Mount Horeb. Paul does not leave any room for doubt and affirms categorically,In all things God works for the good.’ This includes, therefore, every thorn and any type of trial, as he himself explains in the exhaustive list in verse 35. In a mysterious and paradoxical way, suffering becomes an instrument to fulfill some specific purposes for our lives.
Becoming aware of this way in the desert'---the good in pain---can take time, sometimes a very long time. It is part of the maturity process described earlier, operated by grace, and it does not come about by mere introspection. But when it is achieved, it produces a revolutionary change in the way I face the thorn. I shall never forget the words spoken by the parents of a Down's syndrome child:At the beginning our world came crashing down on us, but our child has been like an angel to us, an angel sent by God. Before, we were always arguing and there was tension in our marriage. Since our child was born, his sweetness and affection make all that impossible.’

Finding the way out, not instant solutions
The roads in the desert and the water in the parched land are not just a matter of discovering the good in the evil, a difficult and sometimes long-term task. There is another way by which God provides relief to the pilgrim overwhelmed by the thorn: his active intervention can change the circumstances by providing specific ways out. Actually, this is a promise for every Christian in every tribulation. Such is the underlying principle of 1 Corinthians 10:13: `God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are

tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.’
God provides a way out—not a solution. A solution is something that occurs instantly, almost magically, eliminating the problem automatically. This is what many people expect today in a hedonistic society where suffering is scarcely tolerated and is considered a troublesome distraction. We want solutions, and we want them now'. It is interesting to note that the wordsolution’ does not occur at all in the Bible. A `way out’, on the other hand, is a door that opens onto a road that must be walked. Remember, for example, how in Isaiah 43 what God provides is precisely a way. Herein lies the great difference: a solution does not require any effort at all—the thorn simply disappears; on the other hand, in providing a way out, God shows us the road we must walk along. Of course, this road is not always easy. The way out that he gave the people of Israel from the thorn of the tyranny of Pharaoh entailed forty years in the desert!
The Bible contains beautiful examples of this transformation of circumstances, carried out by grace in the midst of thorny situations. Let us consider one of the most noteworthy examples: Joseph, the patriarch, considered an archetype of Christ and, therefore, a valuable model for us.

Transforming tragedies into fables’: Joseph’s life, a monument to God’s providence

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good (Genesis 50:20).

I remember an interview with the Argentinian author Jorge L. Borges in which he said, ‘Kafka’s mastery consisted in his ability to transform tragedies into fables.’ Since a fable is a

literary composition with a useful or moral teaching, a thought immediately came to mind: my God is like Kafka, but perfect, magnified. How much more is he able to transform the tragedies of our lives into a useful and purpose-filled story?
This is what he did in the life of Joseph. From infancy, Joseph was pressed by a number of thorns, some of them in the form of trauma, others in the form of chronic suffering.
Born into a dysfunctional family (polygamy was fertile ground for jealousy and family tension), his mother died when he was about seven years old and his father spoiled him with such an ill-fated education that it aroused the envy and hatred of his brothers. When he was seventeen he faced the drama of being separated from his family at the height of adolescence, losing the only source of affection he had left, his father. Miraculously, he escaped death, first by being sold as a slave to the traders and then later in the incident with Potiphar’s wife. All alone in Egypt, a foreign land, he suffered the consequences of slander, which sent him to prison for thirteen years.
The thorn of a childhood and youth filled with unjust suffering marked the first stage of his life.
However, when years later he reviewed and evaluated all those events, he had an amazing awareness of God’s presence and guidance in his life. Not only was God directing his steps, but he was also using every circumstance—good and bad—to fulfil his purpose in his life. His words to his brothers in Genesis 50:20 are a memorable summary of this trust: You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.' And in Genesis 45:5-8 it is quite clear who led his life above and beyond his brothers' evil acts: … it was not you who sent me here, but God…’ It is difficult to read these passages without being deeply moved. Joseph

had an unshakeable sense of God’s providence: God allows, he directs, he liberates.
The interpretation that Stephen, inspired by the Holy Spirit, gave of these events in his message before being martyred is an excellent summary of everything seen up to this point. Stephen underscores three aspects of God’s provision that constitute the essential strategy for fighting against the thorn. According to Acts 7:9-10, God gave Joseph:

• His constant presence: God was with him' (v. 9) • Adequate ways out: Godrescued him from all his troubles’ (v. 10)
• Supernatural resources: `God gave him wisdom’ (v. 10.

Maturity: grace teaches

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations … (2 Corinthians 12:7).

The therapeutic effects of grace are progressive and interdependent, just like the links of a chain. The strength of grace enables a change of perspective and attitude.
Eventually, the renewal of strength and the inner transformation lead to the third great therapeutic effect: that of teaching us important lessons. However, it is not the thorn that makes us grow, but our reactions as we face it.
In fact, this instructive value of suffering is recognized not only by believers. Renowned specialists in education and psychoanalysis have pointed to this for a long time. From Piaget to Franqoise Dolto and other experts, we have become aware of how a child matures by resolving the little

problems he faces along the way. Learning to face adversity is essential to the process of emotional maturity, so much so that the best way of keeping a person immature is to shield them from problems by providing them with a difficulty-free existence.
Dostoevsky, in his autobiography Memories from the Underground, places a striking emphasis on the idea that suffering is an indispensable requisite for grasping the true sense of life'. Thorn-induced experiences are never futile: they always contain an instructive element that contributes to our emotional maturity. We would do well to remember this principle in a pleasure driven society that sees no meaning or usefulness in suffering, considering it to be futile and thus opening the door to euthanasia or suicide. In the same way that problems and difficulties contribute to our psychological maturity, so too they contribute to our spiritual growth. God uses trials as a means of transformation. This was the experience of Job, summarized in his memorable words:My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you’ (Job 42:5). The trials he went through allowed him to get to know God in a more personal way. In our case today, trials help us to become more like Christ. Let us not forget that the words disciple and discipline come from the same root, which means `to instruct, to teach’. We must emphasize, nonetheless, that God’s purpose in allowing suffering is not to punish but to teach. Thus, in the same way that rough stones taken from the quarry need to be cut and polished, so too we need to be sculpted to become more like Christ with each passing day.
The Bible’s teaching on this is overwhelming: numerous passages tell of the purifying and educational value of suffering, trials and temptations:

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11).

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire— may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:6- 7).

The apostle Paul had experienced in his own life the transforming effect of trials. His writings and his own life remind us that the ability to face suffering without fleeing from it is a moral virtue that opens doors to our inner transformation. What did Paul have to learn from his thorn? One great lesson in particular: the danger of boasting and the need to remain humble.

Humility, the main lesson

The apostle had so clearly come to terms with the purpose of the thorn that he starts off the passage with these words: `To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations’ (2 Corinthians 12:7). The revelations he has spoken about in verses 1-6 are a double- edged sword: on the one hand they were an immense privilege, something very special that undoubtedly placed him above other believers; but therein also lay the danger: they were a potential source of pride and could arouse a feeling of spiritual superiority, in stark contrast to the attitude that the Lord desired. God could

not let one of the pillars of the church, the apostle to the Gentiles, succumb to one of the most deeply-rooted sins in the human heart, pride. That is why God uses the great learning power of the thorn to show Paul his mistake and potential sin.
Sometimes we find ourselves in similarly dangerous situations. They will probably not involve special revelations through which we might feel very privileged by the Lord.
However, whether it is in the professional, material or even spiritual arena, success inevitably leads to a great danger: boasting, when we forget that every good and perfect gift' comes from God (James 1.17). Boasting is a subtle sin that can sometimes appear in the guise of spirituality. That is where Paul's danger lay, in spiritual superiority. Temptation tends to make its appearance during times of success, when things are going very well for us. Of course we cannot generalize from Paul's particular situation and claim that the purpose of every thorn is always to restrain our boasting. I have known countless individuals oppressed by a painful thorn who did not have even a hint of arrogance. However, it is true that the thorn helps us to be fully aware of our personal limitations, reminding us of the enormous fragility of our lives. In summary, not all thorns stem from an attitude of boasting, but all thorns help us to cultivate the humility that the Lord loves so much: This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit’ (Isaiah 66:2). In Christ, certainly when I am weak, then I am strong. [93-111]


  1. Paul Tournier, Medicina de is Persona, Andamio-Clie, p. 267.
  2. John R. W. Stott, God’s New Society: The Message of Ephesians, IVP, 2979, p. 207.

Appendix: Types of Thorns

This outline is just an illustrative reference point, and is not intended to be a comprehensive list of every possible thorn. It is just a small sample that mainly reflects my own experience as a psychiatrist and as a lay leader/elder in a church for more than thirty years. The list is intended to broaden the types of thorn mentioned in chapter 1, especially those related to disease. Any situation of chronic or recurring suffering having the features described could be added here by the reader.

Chronic physical illnesses

These can be:
• Degenerative: multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, muscular diseases (dystrophies), other neurological diseases
• Incapacitating: disorders causing sight or hearing loss, certain forms of diabetes, renal insufficiency necessitating dialysis, chronic heart conditions, serious rheumatological diseases that hinder mobility, etc.
• Recurring in crisis form: epilepsy, malaria
• Infectious: HIV (AIDS virus), hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis.

In many cases these diseases are degenerative, incapacitating and recurring at the same time.

Chronic psychological illnesses

• Serious and recurring depression
• Obsessive disorders with intrusive (undesired) thoughts
• Schizophrenia and other psychoses
• Personality disorders: antisocial, borderline and others

• Different types of addiction, including alcoholism, compulsive gambling and sexual addiction (the thorn here affecting more the family than the patient, who is often unaware of the problem or reluctant to solve it). [185]

Appendix 10

Suffering—Why Me?

The following quotations are from Philip Yancey’s book, “Where is God when It Hurts?” published in 1977.

Suffering involves two main issues:

(1) cause—–Why am I suffering? Who did it? —and
(2) response.

By instinct, most of us want to figure out the cause of our pain before we decide how to respond. But God does not allow Job that option. He deflects attention from the issue of cause to the issue of Job’s response. (101)

The Cause (79-81)
The Bible may seem to give mixed signals on the question of cause. But its most exhaustive treatment of the topic of suffering has an unmistakable message. It appears in the book of Job, smack in the middle of the Old Testament.
One of the oldest stories in the Bible, Job nevertheless reads like the most modern, for it faces head-on the problem of pain that so bedevils our century. In recent times, such authors as Robert Frost, Archibald MacLeish, and Muriel Spark have all tried their hands at retelling the story of Job.
Job, the most upright, spiritual man of his day, loves God with all his heart. Indeed, God handpicks him to demonstrate to Satan how faithful some humans can be. If anyone does not deserve suffering for his actions, it is Job.

But what happens? Incredibly, a series of wretched calamities descend upon Job, any one of which would suffice to crush most people. Raiders, fire, bandits, and a great wind ravage his ranch and destroy all his possessions. Of Job’s large family only his wife survives, and she is scant comfort. Then, in a second phase of trials, Job breaks out in ulcerous boils.
Thus in a matter of hours all the terrors of hell are poured out on poor Job, utterly reversing his fortune and his health. He scratches his sores and moans. The pain he can somehow put up with. What bothers him more is the sense of betrayal. Until now he has always believed in a loving, fair God. But the facts simply don’t add up. He asks anguished questions, the same questions asked by nearly everyone in great pain. Why me? What did l do wrong? What is God trying to tell me?
In that setting, Job and his friends discuss the mystery of suffering. The friends, devout and reverent men, fill the air with erudition. Boiled down, their arguments are virtually identical. Job, God is trying to tell you something. No one suffers without cause. Common sense and all reason tell us that a just God will treat people fairly. Those who obey and remain faithful, he rewards. Those who sin, he punishes. Therefore, confess your sin, and God will relieve your misery.
Job’s wife suggests one more alternative: Curse God and die. Job, however, can’t accept that choice either. Although what has happened to him does not correspond to justice, he simply can’t bring himself to deny God. Where is the answer for Job? In desperation, he even toys with the notion of God as a Sadist who “mocks the despair of the innocent” (9:23).
In the face of his friends’ verbal assaults Job wavers, contradicts himself, and sometimes even agrees with them. But as he reflects on life, he also recognizes other signs

of unfairness. Thieves grow fat and prosper, while some holy men live in poverty and pain. Evidently, evil and good are not always punished and rewarded in this life.
Job’s own uncontrolled outbursts contrast with the calm reason of his friends. But as he mulls over his particular case, he concludes they are wrong. Against all evidence, he holds on to two seemingly contradictory beliefs: he, Job, does not deserve his tragedy, but still God deserves his loyalty. Job holds firm in the face of such jabs as “Are you more righteous than God?”
Perhaps the most unsettling aspect of the book is that the arguments of Job’s friends sound suspiciously like those offered by Christians today. One must search hard for a defense of suffering, in this book or any other, that does not appear somewhere in their speeches. And yet, in a wonderful ironic twist at the end of the book, God dismisses all their high-sounding theories with a scowl. “I am angry with you and your two friends,” God said to one, “because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (42:7).
Thus even in the Old Testament, where suffering is so frequently identified with God’s punishment, Job’s example shines brightly. The book of Job should nail a coffin lid over the idea that every time we suffer it’s because God is punishing us or trying to tell us something. Although the Bible supports the general principle that “a man reaps what he sows” even in this life (see Psalms 1:3; 37:25), the book of Job proves that other people have no right to apply that general principle to a particular person. Nobody deserved suffering less than Job, and yet few have suffered more.

A Perfectly Fair World (81-84)
On the surface, the book of Job centers around the problem of suffering, the same problem I have been discussing in this book. Underneath, a different issue is at stake: the doctrine of human freedom. Job had to endure undeserved suffering in order to demonstrate that God is ultimately interested in freely given love.
It is a hard truth, one at which great minds have stumbled. C. G. Jung, for example, went to strange lengths to account for God’s behavior in the book of Job. He taught that God decided on the Incarnation and Jesus’ death as a guilt response to the way he had treated Job. God entered the world in Jesus so that he could grow in moral consciousness.
Jung may be underestimating the premium God places on freely given love. The trials of Job stemmed from a debate in heaven over the question, “Are human beings truly free?” In the first two chapters of Job, Satan reveals himself as the first great behaviorist. He claimed that faith is merely a product of environment and circumstances. Job was conditioned to love God.
Take away the positive rewards, Satan challenged, and watch Job’s faith crumble. Poor Job, oblivious, was selected for the cosmic contest to determine this crucial matter of human freedom.
The contest posed between Satan and God was no trivial exercise. Satan’s accusation that Job loved God only because “you have put a hedge around him,” stands as an attack on God’s character. It implies that God is not worthy of love in himself; faithful people like Job follow him only because they are “bribed” to do so. Job’s response when all the props of faith were removed would prove or disprove Satan’s challenge.

To understand this issue of human freedom, it helps me to imagine a world in which everyone truly does get what he or she deserves. What would a world of perfect fairness look like?
In a perfectly fair world, morality would operate according to fixed laws, just like the laws of nature.
Punishment for wrongdoing would work like physical pain. If you touch a flame, you are “punished” instantly with a pain warning; a fair world would punish sin just that swiftly and surely. Extend your hand to shoplift, and you’d get an electrical shock. Likewise, a fair world would reward good behavior: Fill out an IRS form honestly, and you’d earn a pleasure sensation, like a trained seal given a fish.
That imaginary world has a certain appeal. It would be just and consistent, and everyone would clearly know what God expected. Fairness would reign. There is, however, one huge problem with such a tidy world: it’s not at all what God wants to accomplish on earth. He wants from us love, freely given love, and we dare not underestimate the premium God places on that love. Freely given love is so important to God that he allows our planet to be a cancer of evil in his universe—–for a time.
If this world ran according to fixed, perfectly fair rules, there would be no true freedom. We would act rightly because of our own immediate gain, and selfish motives would taint every act of goodness. We would love God because of a programmed, inborn hunger, not because of a deliberate choice in the face of attractive alternatives. It would be a B. F. Skinner, automaton world of action/response, action/response. In contrast, the Christian virtues described in the Bible develop when we choose God and his ways in spite of temptation or impulses to do otherwise.
Throughout the Bible, an analogy that illustrates the relationship between God and his people keeps surfacing. God, the husband, is pictured as wooing the bride to himself.

He wants her love. If the world were constructed so that every sin earned a punishment and every good deed a reward, the parallel would not hold. The closest analogue to that relationship would be a kept woman, who is pampered and bribed and locked away in a room so that the lover can be sure of her faithfulness. God does not “keep” his people. He loves us, gives himself to us, and eagerly awaits our free response.
God wants us to choose to love him freely, even when that choice involves pain, because we are committed to him, not to our own good feelings and rewards. He wants us to cleave to him, as Job did, even when we have every reason to deny him hotly. That, I believe, is the central message of Job. Satan had taunted God with the accusation that humans are not truly free. Was Job being faithful simply because God had allowed him a prosperous life? Job’s fiery trials proved the answer beyond doubt. Job clung to God’s justice when he was the best example in history of God’s apparent injustice. He did not seek the Giver because of his gifts; when all gifts were removed he still sought the Giver.

Vale of Soul-Making (84-87)
If a world of perfect fairness would not produce what God wants from us, our freely given love, neither would it produce what God wants for us. In the first few chapters I used the example of leprosy to demonstrate that pain is valuable, even essential, for life on this planet. In a related way, suffering can become a valuable instrument in accomplishing God’s goals for human beings.
I have said that the megaphone of pain makes it difficult to accept that we have been placed on this “groaning” planet to pursue hedonistic pleasure. But if our happiness is not God’s

goal, what, then, does God intend for this world? Why bother with us at all?
To help understand, think of an illustration from a human family. A father determined to exclude all pain from his beloved daughter’s life would never allow her to take a step.
She might fall down! Instead, he picks her up and carries her wherever she goes or pushes her in a carriage. Over time such a pampered child will become an invalid, unable to take a step, totally dependent on her father.
Such a father, no matter how loving, would end up failing in his most important task: to nurture an independent person into adulthood. It would be far better for the daughter herself if her father stands back and lets her walk, even if it means allowing her to stumble. Apply the analogy directly to Job who, by standing on his own in the midst of suffering, without the benefit of soothing answers, gained powerful new strength. As Rabbi Abraham Heschel has said, “Faith like Job’s cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken.”

C. S. Lewis expands on this idea in The Problem of Pain, where he says in part:

We want not so much a father in heaven as a grand father in heaven—–whose plan for the universe was such that it might be said at the end of each day, “A good time was had by all.”
I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines, but since it is abundantly clear that I don’t, and since I have reason to believe nevertheless that God is love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction.
Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble: he may be content to

let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be. But over the great picture of his life—–the work which he loves, though in a different fashion, as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child—-
-he will take endless trouble—–and would, doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and recommenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumb-nail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.

Once again, these issues trace back to the most basic questions of human existence. Why are we here? The presence of suffering puzzles or even enrages those people who assume that human beings are fully formed creatures who need a suitable home. In the Christian view, though, as Professor John Hick has summarized it in the book Philosophy of Religion, God is dealing with incomplete creatures. The environment of earth should therefore primarily nurture the process of “soul-making.”
We have already seen some advantages of a world of fixed laws and human freedom, even though humans can abuse the freedom and harm one another. John Hick explores another alternative, envisioning a Utopian world designed to protect us from all pain and evil, and concludes that a world free of mistakes would actually abort God’s purpose for us.
Suppose, contrary to fact, that this world were a paradise from which all possibility of pain and suffering were excluded. The consequences would be very far-reaching. For example, no one could ever injure any one else: the murderer’s knife would turn to paper or his bullets to thin air; the bank

safe, robbed of a million dollars, would miraculously become filled with another million dollars (without this device, on however large a scale, proving inflationary); fraud, deceit, conspiracy, and treason would somehow always leave the fabric of society undamaged. Again, no one would ever be injured by accident: the mountain-climber, steeple-jack, or playing child falling from a height would float unharmed to the ground; the reckless driver would never meet with disaster.
There would be no need to work; there would be no call to be concerned for others in time of need or danger, for in such a world there could be no real needs or dangers.
To make possible this continual series of individual adjustments, nature would have to work “special providences” instead of running according to general laws which men must learn to respect on penalty of pain and death. The laws of nature would have to be extremely flexible: sometimes an object would be hard and solid, sometimes soft.
One can at least begin to imagine such a world. It is evident that our present ethical concepts would have no meaning in it. If, for example, the notion of harming someone is an essential element in the concept of wrong action, in our hedonistic paradise there could be no wrong actions—–nor any right actions in distinction from wrong. Courage and fortitude would have no point in an environment in which there is, by definition, no danger or difficulty.
Generosity, kindness, the agape aspect of love, prudence, unselfishness, and all other ethical notions which presuppose life in a stable environment, could not even be formed. Consequently, such a world, however well it might promote pleasure, would be very ill adapted for the development of the moral qualities of human personality. In relation to this purpose it would be the worst of all possible worlds.

It would seem, then, that an environment intended to make possible the growth in free beings of the finest characteristics of personal life, must have a good deal in common with our present world. It must operate according to general and dependable laws; and it must involve real dangers, difficulties, problems, obstacles, and possibilities of pain, failure, sorrow, frustration, and defeat. If it did not contain the particular trials and perils which—–subtracting man’s own very considerable contribution—–our world contains it would have to contain others instead.
To realize this is . . . to understand that this world, with all its “heartaches and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to,” an environment so manifestly not designed for the maximization of human pleasure and the minimization of human pain, may be rather well adapted to the quite different purpose of “soul-making.

In some ways it would be easier for God to step in, to have faith for us, to help us in extraordinary ways. But he has instead chosen to stand before us, arms extended, while he asks us to walk, to participate in our own soul- making. That process always involves struggle, and often involves suffering.

To What End? (87-89)
The notion of earth as a “vale of soul-making” (the poet John Keats’s phrase) sheds light on some of the most difficult passages in the Bible. Although the Bible remains vague on the cause of specific sufferings, it does give many examples, as in this verse from Amos, of God using pain for a purpose: “I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me,’ declares the Lord” (Amos 4:6). On

almost every page the Hebrew prophets warned Israelites that they would face calamity if they continued to flout God’s laws.
Most of us operate on a different scale of values than God. We would rank life as the greatest value (and thus murder as the greatest crime). “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is how the founding fathers of the United States defined the highest values a government should strive to protect. But clearly God operates from a different perspective. He indeed values human life, so much so that he declared it “sacred,” meaning he alone, and no human being, has the right to take life. But in Noah’s day, for example, God did not hesitate to exercise that right; numerous times in the Old Testament he took human life in order to halt the spread of evil.
Similarly, many Bible passages show that some things are more awful to God than the pain of his children. Consider the sufferings of Job, or Jeremiah, or Hosea. God did not even exempt himself from suffering: consider the awesome pain involved in himself becoming a man and dying on a cross. Do these show God’s lack of compassion? Or do they, rather, demonstrate that some things are more important to God than a suffering-free life for even his most loyal followers?
As I have said, the Bible consistently changes the questions we bring to the problem of pain. It rarely, or ambiguously, answers the backward-looking question “Why?” Instead, it raises the very different, forward- looking question, “To what end?” We are not put on earth merely to satisfy our desires, to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. We are here to be changed, to be made more like God in order to prepare us for a lifetime with him. And that process may be served by the mysterious pattern of all creation: pleasure sometimes emerges against a background of pain, evil may be transformed

into good, and suffering may produce something of value.
Is God speaking to us through our sufferings? It is dangerous and perhaps even unscriptural to torture ourselves by looking for his message in a specific throb of pain, a specific instance of suffering. The message may simply be that we live in a world with fixed laws, like everyone else. But from the larger view, from the view of all history, yes, God speaks to us through suffering—–or perhaps in spite of suffering. The symphony he is composing includes minor chords, dissonance, and tiresome fugal passages. But those of us who follow his conducting through early movements will, with renewed strength, someday burst into song.

Two Great Errors (89-92)
Discussions about the problem of pain tend to drift toward the abstract and philosophical. Phrases like “the best of all possible worlds,” “the advantages of human freedom,” and “vale of soul-making” creep in, and these can deflect attention away from the actual problems of people in pain. Yet I have felt it necessary to explore some of these issues because I believe they have a direct and practical effect on our response to suffering.
In fact, I believe Christians walk a mental tightrope and are in constant danger of falling in one of two directions. On this subject, errors in thinking can have tragic results.
The first error comes when we attribute all suffering to God, seeing it as his punishment for human mistakes; the second error does just the opposite, assuming that life with God will never include suffering.
I have already mentioned one unfortunate consequence of the first error. I have interviewed many Christians with life- threatening illnesses, and every one without exception has told

me how damaging it can be to have a visitor plant the thought, “You must have done something to deserve this punishment.” At the very moment when they most need hope and strength to battle the illness, they get instead a frosty dose of guilt and self-doubt. I’m glad the author of Job took such care to record the rambling conversations of Job’s friends: that book serves as a permanent reminder to me that I have no right to stand beside a suffering person and pronounce, “This is the will of God,” no matter how I cloak that sentiment in pious phrases.
The error of attributing all suffering to God’s punishment has far-reaching consequences, as the history of the church has grievously shown. During the late Middle Ages, women were burned at the stake for the heretical act of taking pain- relieving medicines for childbirth. “In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children,” priests admonished as they condemned the women to death. And after Edward Jenner had perfected the smallpox vaccine he faced his strongest opposition from clergy, who opposed any interference with the will of God. Even today some religious sects reject modem medical treatment.
Secular writers have seized on this weakness. In his novel The Plague, Albert Camus portrays a Catholic priest, Father Paneloux, torn by a dilemma. Should he devote his energy to fighting the plague or to teaching his parishioners to accept it as from God? He grapples with this issue in a sermon: “Paneloux assured those present that it was not easy to say what he was about to say—–since it was God’s will, we, too, should will it. Thus and thus only the Christian could face the problem squarely. The sufferings of children were our
bread of affliction, but without this bread our souls would die of spiritual hunger.” Father Paneloux preaches this, but cannot quite believe it: later in the novel he abandons his faith after watching a small child die horribly of the plague.

If the Bible were not so pronounced in denying that all suffering results from specific sins, if it did not paint Job’s predicament in such sweeping terms, if it did not show the Son of God spending his days on earth healing diseases and not inflicting them, then the dilemma that Camus posed would be unresolvable. For, if we accept that suffering comes from God as a lesson to us (as, for example Islam does), the next logical step would be a resigned fatalism. Polio, AIDS, malaria, bubonic plague, cancer, yellow fever—– why should a person fight any of these if they are God’s agents sent to teach us a lesson?
When the Black Death hit England in the seventeenth century, some street prophets delighted in pronouncing the plague a judgment from God. But other believers, among them doctors and clergy, chose to stay in London to fight the disease. One sacrificial rector gathered the 350 villagers of Eyam around him and got them to agree to a self-imposed quarantine as a health measure to keep the plague among them from spreading to surrounding villages. In all, 259 villagers died, but in the process they ministered to each other in their illness and prevented further contamination.
In his Journal of the Plague Year, Daniel Defoe contrasted the Christians’ response with the Mohammedans’. When plague struck the Middle East, the religious fatalists there did not alter their behavior in the least, but continued going out in public at will. A much higher percentage among them died than among the Londoners who took precautions.
In modern times, some Christians still lean dangerously toward a fatalism that more befits Islam or Hinduism than Christianity. Several years ago researchers studied why Southerners in the U.S. tended to suffer a higher frequency of tornado-related deaths than Midwesterners. After taking into account such factors as differences in building materials, the researchers concluded that some Southerners, being more

religious, had developed a fatalistic attitude toward disaster: “If it hits, it hits, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.” In contrast, Midwesterners were more likely to listen to weather reports, secure loose equipment, and take shelter.
If the researchers’ conclusions are accurate, I take that trend as a dangerous perversion of Christian dogma.
Southerners should listen to the weather service and take precautions. Father Paneloux should have been on the front lines, arms linked with doctors, battling the plague. Jesus himself spent his life on earth fighting disease and despair. Not once did he hint at fatalism or a resigned acceptance of suffering.
We the inhabitants of this “groaning” planet have the right, even the obligation, to fight against human suffering. Anyone who thinks otherwise should reread the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, and the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25.

Health and Wealth Theology (92-95)
In recent times, some parts of the church have tilted in a very different direction, toward the second great error. They teach that life with God will never include suffering. Such a “health and wealth theology” could only spring up in times of affluence, in a society well-stocked with pain-relieving aids.
Christians in Iran, say, or Cambodia could hardly come up with such a smiley-face theology. As one East European Christian observed, “You Western Christians often seem to consider material prosperity to be the only sign of God’s blessing. On the other hand, you often seem to perceive poverty, discomfort, and suffering as signs of God’s disfavor. In some ways we in the East understand suffering from the opposite perspective. We believe that suffering may be a sign of God’s favor and trust in the Christians to whom the trial is permitted to come.”

Nowadays we reserve our shiniest merit badges for those who have been miraculously healed, featuring them in magazine articles and television specials, holding out the unreserved promise that healing is available to everyone if only they would claim it.
In no way do I mean to discount the wonderfulness of physical healing. But obviously miracles do not offer a permanent solution for the problem of suffering because the eventual mortality rate is exactly the same for Christians and non-Christians alike—l00 percent. We all have eyes subject to the need for corrective lenses, bones subject to breaking, and soft tissue subject to destruction from auto accidents and terrorist bombs. Christians get cancer too; they fully share the sorrow of this world.
The modem emphasis on miraculous healing has the frequent side effect of causing unhealed ones to feel as though God has passed them by. Recently I watched a televised call-in healing program. The biggest applause came when a caller reported his leg had been healed just one week before he was scheduled for amputation. The audience yelled, and the emcee burbled, “This is the best miracle we’ve had tonight!” I couldn’t help wondering how many amputees were watching, forlornly wondering where their faith had failed.
Unlike many television evangelists, the apostle Paul seemed to expect from the Christian life not health and wealth, but a measure of suffering. He told Timothy, “in fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). A sick person is not unspiritual. And Christian faith does not magically equip us with a germ-free, hermetically sealed space suit to protect against the dangers of earth. That would insulate us from complete identification with the world—–a luxury God did not allow his own Son.

To hold out the inducement that becoming a Christian will guarantee you health and prosperity—– why, that is the very argument advanced by Satan in the book of Job, and decisively refuted.
To restore balance to this issue, we would do well to relearn the lessons about faith taught in the Bible’s greatest chapter on the subject, Hebrews 11. The author compiles a list of faithful persons through the centuries. Most of the saints listed in the first part of the chapter received miraculous deliverance: Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, David. But the latter part of the chapter mentions others who were tortured and chained, stoned, and sawed in two.
Hebrews 11 gives vivid details about the second group: they went about in sheepskins and goatskins, were destitute, wandered in deserts and mountains, and lived in holes in the ground. The chapter offers the blunt assessment, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.” It adds, though, God’s own appraisal of these sojourners on earth who placed their hopes in a better, heavenly country: “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
I thought about this list of “God’s favorites” recently as I read through Fear No Evil, the last book written by David Watson, a well-known English preacher and writer. Struck down with colon cancer at the height of his career, Watson rallied his Christian friends around him and began a desperate journey of faith. He had gained prominence in the charismatic movement, and Watson and most of his friends were convinced that God would solve the cancer through a miraculous healing.
Over time, as Watson grew sicker and weaker, he had to reach for another kind of faith, the kind cultivated by the saints mentioned in the latter part of Hebrews 11. He needed the

faith that sustained Job, barely, in his darkest days, and his book tells how he attained that faith.
David Watson wrote the last words of his book in January, and died in February. Many people received his book with a touch of disappointment; they had hoped rather for an account of supernatural healing. But J. I. Packer, who wrote the foreword after Watson’s death, saw it as recovering an ancient tradition of Christian books on the “art of dying.” Until recently, a good death was seen as a godly man’s crowning achievement, the climax of his good life.
Packer gives this assessment:

The fact that David, right to his last page, hopes for supernatural healing that never comes is not important. In the providence of God, who does not always show his servants the true point of the books he stirs them to write, the theme
of Fear No Evil is the conquest of death—–not by looking away from it, nor by being shielded from it, but by facing it squarely and going down into it knowing that for a believer it is the vestibule of glory.
David’s theology led him to believe, right to the end, that God wanted to heal his body. Mine leads me rather to say that God evidently wanted David home, and healed his whole person by taking him to glory in the way that he will one day heal us all. Health and life, I would say, in the full and final sense of those words, are not what we die out of, but what we die into.

Appendix 11

Healing Words

All the passages below are taken from Ira Byock’s book, “The Four Things That Matter Most”, published in 2004.

Please forgive me. I forgive you.
Thank you.
I love you.

These four simple statements are powerful tools for improving your relationships and your life. As a doctor caring for seriously ill patients for nearly 15 years of emergency medicine practice and more than 25 years in hospice and palliative care, I have taught hundreds of patients who were facing life’s end, when suffering can be profound, to say the Four Things. But the Four Things apply at any time. Comprising just eleven words, these four short sentences carry the core wisdom of what people who are dying have taught me about what matters most in life.

The Wisdom of Stating the Obvious
Ask a man who is being wheeled into transplant surgery or a woman facing chemotherapy for the third time what’s on his or her mind and the answer will always involve the people they love. Always.
The specter of death reveals our relationships to be our most precious possessions. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve met people in my office, an emergency room, or a hospice program who have expressed deep regret over things they wish they had said before a grandparent,

parent, sibling, or friend died. They can’t change what was, but without fail their regrets have fueled a healthy resolve to say what needs to be said before it’s too late-
-to clear away hurt feelings, to connect in profound ways with the people who mean the most to them.
Everyone knows that all relationships, even the most loving, have occasional rough spots. We assume that the people we love know that we love them, even if we’ve had our disagreements and tense moments. Yet when someone we love dies suddenly, we often have gnawing doubts.
We are all sons or daughters, whether we are six years of age or ninety-six. Even the most loving parent-child relationship can feel forever incomplete if your mother or father dies without having explicitly expressed affection for you or without having acknowledged past tensions. I’ve learned from my patients and their families about the painful regret that comes from not speaking these most basic feelings. Again and again, I’ve witnessed the value of stating the obvious. When you love someone, it is never too soon to say, “I love you,” or premature to say, “Thank you,” “I forgive you,” or “Will you please forgive me?” When there is nothing of profound importance left unsaid, relationships tend to take on an aspect of celebration, as they should.
A deep, natural drive to connect with others lies at the heart of what it means to be human. The Four Things can help you discover opportunities to enliven all your important relationships–with your children, parents, relatives, and close friends. You need not wait until you or someone you love is seriously ill. By taking the time and by caring enough to express forgiveness, gratitude, and affection, you can renew and revitalize your most precious connections.

The Practice of Good-bye
It’s been said that life is a sexually transmitted condition with a terminal prognosis. Having worked for years in close proximity to death, I have come to understand viscerally that we live every moment on the brink. We are, each one of us, at every moment, a heartbeat away from death. Seen against the backdrop of our certain mortality, our differences are dwarfed by our commonality–and the importance we hold for one another.
The stories in The Four Things That Matter Most are drawn from the experiences of people who have stood at death’s door, and from their loved ones who learned to use the Four Things in their own daily lives. These stories inspire us to open to the potential for emotional wholeness at any moment in our lives–even in our most troubled relationships.
When I work with people who are approaching the end of life, I emphasize the value of saying the Four Things and I also encourage them to say good-bye. The Four Things offer essential wisdom for completing a lifelong relationship before a final parting. Thankfully, not all good-byes are
final–but good-byes can be meaningful. It’s important to say good-bye in a way that affirms our relationship and acknowledges our connection to one another.
The word good-bye derives from “God be with you,” a blessing that was traditionally given at parting and, in some churches, still is. The protection and God’s help of presence and guidance can be requested whether two people expect to be separated a few hours or forever. In leaving nothing unsaid, we can recapture this original meaning, so that, in saying
good-bye, we are actually blessing one another in our daily interactions as well as when we face major life challenges or crises. It only takes a moment to shift the way you say good-bye from a reflex to a conscious practice. Your

good-bye and your blessing can become treasured gifts to other people as you part.

Expanding the Realm of the Possible
Our world is bounded by our imagination. This may sound philosophical, but I mean it in a most practical, tangible sense. Helen Keller once wrote, “Worse than being blind would be to be able to see but not have any vision.” When a formerly cherished relationship is marred by unkindness, bitterness, or betrayal, we often assume that healing is beyond our grasp, but this assumption can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Do you really want to have such a limitation on your vision for your life?
The extraordinary experiences of the people whose stories I tell in this book demonstrate that healing and wholeness are always possible. Even after years of alienation, of harsh criticism, rejection, or frustration, you can establish or re-establish–authentic understanding and appreciation of others with the help of the Four Things. Even as people confront death (their own or others’), they can reach out to express love, gratitude, and forgiveness. When they do, they consistently find that they, and everyone involved, are transformed–for the rest of their lives, whether those lives last for decades or just days. Stories and experiences of people who have courageously used the Four Things enlarge our vision and imagination, expanding the realm of the possible for us all.

Restoring Closeness
The Four Things are powerful tools for reconciling the rifts that divide us and restoring the closeness we innately desire. When bad feelings occur in our close relationships, we tend to put off the work required to

make things right. We always assume we’ll have another chance . . . later. That’s understandable, but it’s a mistake. Feeling resentful toward the people we love, or once loved, feeling distant from them, erodes our own happiness.
A brush with death often instills in us a newfound appreciation for the gift of life. Simple pleasures–a cup of tea, sunshine on one’s face, the voices of our children–feel like miracles. When we’ve had a close call that shakes us up, the anger we’ve felt toward people closest to us no longer seems significant. Ill-will dissolves in love, appreciation, and affection, and we recognize the urgency of mending, tending, and celebrating our relationships.
Because accidents and sudden illness do happen, it is never too soon to express forgiveness, to say thank you and I love you to the people who have been an integral or intimate part of our lives, and to say good-bye as a blessing. These simple words hold essential wisdom for transforming that which matters most in our lives–our relationships with the people we love.

The Healing Power of Words
Edwina Hargis was a patient in an ambulance speeding toward the emergency room where I was an attending physician. “Code 3,” the ambulance radioed, meaning lights and sirens. “A seventy-eight-year-old woman with sudden, severe abdominal pain radiating to her back. Hypotension down to seventy by palpation.”
Abrupt onset of acute abdominal pain that radiates into the back and dangerously low blood pressure can mean several things, none good: it is a classic presentation for a leaking abdominal aortic aneurysm. The diagnosis can pretty much be confirmed by a physical exam during which the paramedic feels

a “pulsatile abdominal mass.” In fact, that was the next thing the Emergency Medical Team reported. So I had a good idea of Mrs. Hargis’s diagnosis by the time she arrived. Indeed, I had already alerted Surgery that we were getting a patient with a ruptured “triple A,” and to keep an operating room open. After being stabilized in the ER, my patient would likely be coming to them STAT, within 15 minutes.
When Mrs. Hargis arrived, she surprised me by saying that she was already well aware that she had an aneurysm. Furthermore, she knew it was gradually expanding and that, when it ruptured, it would be lethal. She needed major surgery to have any chance of surviving, yet other health problems– including diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and peripheral vascular disease–made it unlikely that she could survive an operation, which was the best treatment for her life- threatening condition.
I pulled up a stool to the head of her gurney. “I wish I had better news for you, Mrs. Hargis. From what you’ve just told me, it sounds like you understand the situation. Like a bleb on a bicycle tire, this aneurysm has been getting bigger over many months. Today it has begun to leak. As you’ve said, and the doctors have told you, you might well die in surgery.
Without surgery you will almost certainly die within the next few hours. Do you understand?”
Mrs. Hargis had listened to my grim report with her eyes half closed. Now she nodded, as if to herself, then opened her eyes and looked at me with firm resolve. “Yes, I do,” she said. She knew the score and had discussed it more than once with her internist and cardiologist. “I’ve known this day would come. I do not want surgery. I’m prepared.”
The nurses and I were making her comfortable with medications and intravenous fluids as her family arrived in a private waiting area outside the ER.

“Mrs. Hargis, I want to let your family know what’s happening. Is that all right?” I asked.
“Yes, please.”
With my patient temporarily stable, I left the trauma room and met Mrs. Hargis’s daughter and two sons. I explained her medical condition and her decision to decline surgery.
Gently but explicitly, I informed them that without surgery her death was imminent. I was brief and to the point because I was aware of how precarious Mrs. Hargis’s condition was at that moment. Time was short.
Her children were not surprised. When she had made her decision not to have surgery, almost two years ago, she had explained it to them.
As I was speaking with Mrs. Hargis’s family, the nurses had cleaned the trauma room and brought in a few stools for them so that they could visit their mother until a room was ready upstairs. Before they went in, June, her eldest child, a woman in her forties, asked, “How is she doing now, doctor? And what is going to happen next?”
“At this moment, your mother is doing okay,” I replied. “We’re giving her pain medication and fluids. Hopefully, this will buy a little time. Let us know if you feel she is hurting too much. As the bleeding continues, her blood pressure will fall and she will become less alert. When her blood pressure falls too low, she will die. It may happen gradually, but it could be sudden. She may have only a matter of minutes or a few hours to live. I realize that this is precious family time, and we’ll do all we can to preserve it.”
We went into the trauma room together and I told Mrs. Hargis that I had explained the situation to her family. Then I said, “I want to suggest something to all of you that may seem obvious, but I hope it’s worth saying. Whatever time you have together today is a chance to say the things that would be left unsaid. In fact, `stating the obvious’ is important at times like

this. Over the years I’ve learned from my patients how important it is to say four things: Please forgive me, I forgive you, Thank you, and I love you. By saying these things, people often feel better prepared to say good- bye.”
“You’re on the mark, doctor,” said June. “Mom doesn’t talk much about feelings. She loves us and I think she knows how much we love her,” she looked at her mother, and then back at me. “Mom grew up in a ranching family with three brothers. They weren’t outwardly affectionate. And `I love you’ was not something we said a lot to each other growing up. But there’s no time like the present.” She turned to her mother, “I love you, Mom!” The nurses had lowered the guardrail so June was able to lean over and hug her mother.
I excused myself, left the family, and called the operating room to tell them they could stand down. Instead of rushing to surgery, Mrs. Hargis and her family were going to use the time together to say or do whatever mattered most to them. The nurses got everyone to a private hospital room and the family asked a priest to come to administer the Sacrament of the Sick. Three hours after admission, Mrs. Hargis’s blood pressure fell and she became unresponsive. A short while later she was pronounced dead.
Later that same evening, Mrs. Hargis’s daughter came back to the emergency department before leaving the hospital and asked to speak with me. She said her family wanted us to know how much they appreciated the nurses’ and my care of her mother. She said, “This was the best possible way for the worst possible thing to happen. My mother was a strong, stoic woman. If she had died suddenly, there would have been important things left unsaid. Your advice was so helpful. She told each of us kids how proud she was of us. That’s something we had never heard her say! I told her that we would never forget her. It was

stating the obvious, just as you suggested.” She smiled. “Thank you for taking such good care of us all. I never realized just how much words could mean.”
The words that Mrs. Hargis and her children had given one another in those last hours of her life were profound gifts. Her children will carry those blessings with them for the rest of their lives.

The Lifelong Benefits of the Four Things
Our core relationships do not, in all ways, end with death. The people who are most important to us become part of our psyche and soul. Even after their death, people who have been most central in our lives naturally continue to influence our thoughts and feelings. Saying the Four Things is important for our ongoing relationships to the people we lose through death. One day, after we die, our children and loved ones will benefit from having said the Four Things to us.
Occasionally, cynics have confronted me by saying, “It’s just not that simple!” Well, it is and it isn’t. I have never–and would never–imply that it is always easy to find the intimacy and warmth that we yearn for with the people who mean the most to us–or that we will all find meaning in facing our mortality. Sometimes, rather than bringing people together, serious illness pushes them apart and fractures relationships. Emotional and physical pain can try the gentlest of souls; fear can shut us down and close us off.
Yet I also know that healing and wholeness are possible-
-and often straightforward–even in the wake of personal troubles and tragedies, even in the face of death. I have seen them occur too many times to ignore this aspect of our human potential. And because of my work with patients of many ages, backgrounds, and life circumstances, I know that this kind of

healing is not just a matter of luck. As a doctor, I cannot heal relationships between other people any more than I can will the grass to grow. I can prepare them for healing, plant some seeds, keep careful watch, and nurture any evidence of growth. In the plowing and planting and tending of the emotional, spiritual healing process, words are my most valuable tools. They can become yours, too.

Instruments of Healing
We often underestimate the power of words as instruments of healing. Specifically, we don’t recognize the power that comes from talking with one another about our feelings and our most private, intimate fears. Here again, these sensitive subjects tend to surface when people are very sick or not expected to survive, or a loved one is about to leave on a long trip or work assignment. It’s one thing to avoid talking about living wills, death, or funerals while we are playing bridge or bowling, but it’s quite another to continue to avoid such subjects when an ill relative or close friend is growing visibly weaker with each visit. Culturally, we walk around the proverbial elephant in the living room without ever acknowledging the weight of separation, departure, illness, or impending death on all our lives.
Actually, we don’t just avoid such conversations, we actively squelch them. It’s not that we are uncaring. It’s sort of automatic. Say we’re with a close friend, cousin, sibling, or parent who is ill and not getting better. In the course of reviewing the recent tests, or medications, or bills, she shakes her head and mutters, “Sometimes I just wish it would be over.”
“Oh, don’t talk like that,” we say reflexively. I’ve caught myself doing it, too, even with all my experience with talking and dealing with people and their lives at the end of life. It’s so culturally ingrained to be optimistic and reassuring that the

words are out of our mouths before we know it, like saying “Gesundheit” when someone sneezes. But we need to recognize seemingly offhand comments for what they often are–an invitation to listen. And then, perhaps, to talk.
People have often told me, “I would talk with her, but I don’t know what to say.” I really believe that the Four Things will help you in such a situation. First and foremost, though, the best way to help someone who is ill, lonely, depressed, or dying is by just showing up. Being there communicates to the person how much he or she really matters to you. When you are present with someone you care about, be willing to open your mind and heart. If you are at a loss for words to say, the Four Things can help you.
The emotional and physical benefits to our health and happiness that come from connecting with others have been repeatedly demonstrated by psychological and medical research. Even our judicial system recognizes this human drive in its penal code: short of execution, solitary confinement is the worst punishment permitted by Western law. Isolation and abandonment cause suffering in people of all ages and cultures, even in the absence of illness. For people under stress, dealing with illness, or facing change, emotional isolation can be torture. Far more than pain or any other physical symptom, isolation evokes feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. This isn’t only true when people are dying–it’s true for everyone.
In addition to our primal drive for connection, we each have an instinctive impulse to give and receive love. We have a deep desire for healing and wholeness. Thankfully, honest, heartfelt, well-chosen words have the power to heal and make us whole. I’m not referring here to the power of prayer or chants, all of which may offer

great comfort, but to the pragmatic healing potential of words like the Four Things words that are personal but also
I’ve seen such words rescue people from the abyss of hopelessness and despair. The Four Things have lent strength, renewed faith, and rekindled hope in the face of uncertainty.
They affirm our deep connection to one another. Through well- chosen words, we can celebrate our communality, our humanity, and our individual uniqueness.

Completing Relationships
It is a quirk of our language that the word complete implies finished or over, but a relationship can be complete without ending. Conversely, a relationship may end, but remain incomplete. The
word complete doesn’t always imply finality. A circle that is complete, for instance, is whole and never-ending.
We are complete in our relationships when we feel reconciled, whole, and at peace. People say they feel complete when, if they were to die tomorrow, they’d have no regrets–they would feel they had left nothing undone or
Saying the Four Things can help us attain this sense of completion and renew the circle of our most significant relationships, reclaiming the life-affirming love from which they began. Such was the case of an Israeli couple named the Polanskys.

Overcoming Past Hurts
People who are dying recognize how fleeting and precious life is and often feel a sense of urgency about completing relationships. An Israeli grief counselor, Lynne Halamish, told me about an embittered couple in their mid- sixties, the Polanskys, for whom the Four Things proved to be

a powerful tool as they grappled with her dying and their fractured relationship. In the late stages of uterine cancer, Mrs. Polansky was too ill to engage in serious counseling work and didn’t have long to live. So Lynne spent most of her time with Mr. Polansky and told him about the Four Things. She had just begun when Mr. Polansky said, “Look, I can say forgive me.
And maybe, because she’s dying, after all, I can say I forgive you. I think I can even say thank you. But I cannot say I love you to this woman.”
Lynne asked to hear the whole story. Mr. Polansky described their early relationship. “When I first met this one,” Mr. Polansky said, cocking his head toward a photo of his wife in their living room, “I was absolutely head over heels in love with her. But in a very regular, constant way, she has betrayed me personally and publicly with other men over the years.
Adultery. One man after another through years of our marriage. It has been a long time ago now, and so I do think I can forgive her, but I no longer love this woman–she burned that out of me. I will not tell her that I love her.”
Because Lynne believes–as I do–that we gain strength from saying all of the Four Things, she pressed Mr. Polansky a bit. She asked him how the couple slept at night.
“Back to back, of course,” Mr. Polansky told her and shrugged. She then suggested that he try something. Lynne told him that, when his wife lay asleep next to him, he could try to bring to mind the woman with whom he had been so in love. She asked him to take his time and imagine his wife as she once was. “Reconnect with her in your mind, and, if possible, in your heart,” she said. “As you hold the woman you married in your thoughts and heart, whisper very, very quietly to your wife’s back, `I love you.’ You don’t have to do this, it’s just an idea. Maybe it’s a crazy idea, but it’s worth considering.”

Mr. Polansky was skeptical, to say the least. He asked Lynne what would happen if he said “I love you” to his wife. She confessed she didn’t know and asked him, “What do you have to lose?” Lynne explained that there was little likelihood of reforming his wife in her last weeks of life, but that he had a lot to gain from reaching some sense of completion and closure in his marriage.
Mr. Polansky told Lynne he would think it over. As it happened, she didn’t see him again before Mrs. Polansky died. She called him to extend her sympathies. A month or so later, Mr. Polansky contacted Lynne and asked if he could come see her at her office. When they met, he said he wanted to tell her what had happened.
“I did what you suggested,” he began. “We were lying in bed in the dark and I closed my eyes and pictured her as she was when we met. I whispered to her back, I love you.' I said it to her, but I could see my young bride in the woman beside me. Before long I actually started feeling the love that I once had for her. I hadn't felt that way since I was in my thirties. After a while I woke her up and told her I loved her. And she said something to me she never said in all our years of marriage.You are such a beautiful man. My rock.’ She put her hand on my cheek and had tears in her eyes. Then she said,
`You saved me.’ We kissed, and I knew in that moment that underneath it all she had always loved me”.
Lynne asked him what it meant to him to have her say that. “I got her back,” Mr. Polansky replied. “The last weeks of my wife’s life were the best time in the past twenty years of our marriage. I will miss her, but now I can say good-bye.”

Re-creating a Lifelong Relationship
Using the Four Things as practical tools, we can deliberately decide to make our relationships whole. This can bring about a sense of completion before death is imminent.

When we accomplish this in the relationships that matter most to us, it often opens a new chapter in our lives, as it did for Diane and Herb Cahill.
“Although my father provided well for my mom, my brothers, sister, and me, I always had the feeling we were more responsibilities to him, than a family that he really loved or wanted,” Diane said in describing her relationship with her father.
When I met Diane Cahill, she was in her early fifties, tall with sandy hair and eyes highlighted by fine wrinkles at their corners from years of squinting, or smiling, in the wind and sun. I noticed her eyes because she looks directly at people when she talks. Diane had grown up in a small community north of Boise, Idaho. Her father, Herb, had been a county agricultural extension officer.
“We lived in a separate world from our father,” Diane continued. She chuckled. “He was like a boarder. He would come home from work, eat dinner, then disappear into his shop in the garage. Or he would go to a local bar, play cards, and hang out with his friends. On weekends he worked in his shop-
-pursuing his only real interest, which was woodworking.” Here Diane paused. “He did make my sister and me beautiful pieces of furniture, jewelry boxes, and trinkets for our birthdays and Christmas. That was his way of showing affection. But he never hugged us or expressed any warmth. In fact, he had a wicked temper. Although he never beat us (probably out of fear of what my mother would do), he occasionally spanked us, and he was always showing us the belt' that he keptjust in case.”‘
For most of her adult life, Diane saw little of her father. Then, at 74, Herb did an abrupt about-face. He reached out to his family and friends. “He called me up out of the blue,” said Diane. “He had never done that before. And he asked to come see me. I couldn’t believe it. On the phone I was flustered,

almost speechless. I lived within forty minutes of him and my mom, but he’d never before taken an interest in where I was living or what I was doing. Lo and behold, the next day he came by my apartment and asked my forgiveness. I was in shock.”
Diane said that he apologized to her for not having been around when she was growing up, and for not being much of a father. “For the first time in my life, he told me he loved me,” she said. “You could have blown me over with a feather. He actually had tears in his eyes. He said he was proud that I had become a teacher.
“It wasn’t just with me. He started going around to all of us in the family, almost everyone he knew, in fact, asking forgiveness for things he’d done or, in my case, not done.
“He told people how much they meant to him. He was very deliberate about it. He was very specific with everyone. He paid off debts–even those that had long ago been forgiven, or forgotten. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve run into who have told me about these visits with my dad.”
I asked Diane what had prompted this change.
“For a long time, we didn’t know what to think. When I asked him, all he would say is, `I figure it’s time I got my life straight.’
“We were baffled, to say the least. Looking back, my mom and I have pieced together that he’d lost an old Navy friend about three months before he started making amends. Then his barber keeled over at work.”
I asked Diane about her relationship with her father since his change of heart. She shook her head, as if I had missed the point.
“Only a few months later, my father died.” “Oh, so he had been ill during this time?”
“No, what’s strange is that he wasn’t ill at all. He was in his shop, turning the leg of a table that he was building on a

lathe, and the machine blew up. It was a freak accident. My mother heard a loud bang and ran out to the garage. Dad was lying dead on the floor, his safety goggles on, pieces of the table scattered around him. We never found out what, exactly, killed him. The coroner’s best guess was that he’d been electrocuted. Whatever happened, I’m certain that my father didn’t know he was going to die.”
“Did people give your father the forgiveness he sought?
Did you,”
“Oh, yes,” said Diane. “He was so sincere. It may sound funny, but I was actually happy for him. He was softer, more genuine. We had such a wonderful time those few months. We had a real father-daughter relationship for the first time. It was a shock to lose him so soon after he had reached out to us.
The whole family was devastated. But, without a doubt, it was easier because of what we had all shared in those preceding months. My mother feels the same way. When she talks about him, she’s sad, but she’s told me that she also feels proud of him–as if in some way he made it! We all got the feeling that he was content with himself before he died, probably for the first time in his life.”
I asked Diane if she thought there were any lessons in her father’s story that she would carry with her. She thought for a moment. “I never realized just how much was missing in my life until my father reached out to me. It was as if something that was broken inside me suddenly felt whole. I know he felt the same way.
There was a deep sense of peace and warmth. I guess the lesson for me is that it’s never too late to say what needs to be said,” she said. “But it is also never too early. Because you just never know.”
Diane and her family took to heart the lessons of the last days of her father’s life. To this day, they make sure they say the Four Things to each other regularly.

Coming Current in your Relationships
Interestingly, people who are physically well often feel the same pressing need to complete relationships as people who are dying. You don’t need a grave diagnosis or a brush with death to “come current” in your relationships. Herb had the right idea. We never know when we’re going to
die. Completing our relationships by saying the Four Things to the people who mean the most to us is a way of reaffirming and invigorating what’s truly important in our lives.
By saying the Four Things, Mr. Polansky experienced a sense of completion and closure with his wife that he never dreamed possible. He was able to reawaken feelings for her that he thought were long dead, but were, in fact, actually dormant.
For both the Polanskys and the Cahills, completion meant closing a circle that had been broken. When serious disruptions have impaired the connection between people, completion means acknowledging rifts, recognizing difficulties, and reconciling relationships. In both cases, a family’s life was transformed and the legacy left was marked by joy rather than pain. And part of that legacy is a resolve to maintain and renew loving connections with other people in their ongoing daily lives.

Whenever we are able to open up and become vulnerable and honest with ourselves, we allow the opportunity for profound transformation. People who acknowledge that their lives may soon be over tend to have little patience with pretense, including their own. In the naked honesty that accompanies death’s approach, many people feel a need to apologize for having been self-centered, irresponsible, or just plain wrong.

Most people who are dying still have the capacity to change in ways that are important to them. Their transformation can also make an enormous, and lasting, difference to the people around them. Even the least introspective person may begin to look inward. Serious illness can allow people to experience the immediacy of life. Hard, angry, suspicious people (who, it seemed, would stay that way to the bitter end) often soften, becoming vulnerable and even trusting. I look at these changes not as deathbed conversions, but as quantum leaps in personal development opportunities to achieve a state of mind and an intimacy with others that might not otherwise come to pass.
We know that our family and friends are the most important parts in life, but we tend to get distracted, enmeshed as we often are in the work and family responsibilities that fill our daily lives. Saying the Four Things before we or they confront eternity is a way to honor and affirm the primacy of our relationships. The Four Things help us align our words and deeds to what matters most.
In my public talks and clinical workshops, I have often used Steve Morris as a case to illustrate how the Four Things can point us toward this type of transformation.

Becoming Well Within Yourself
When our hospice team met Steve, he was dying hard.
Struggling for every breath, he was unable to walk without gasping for air, yet unable to sit still because of the anxiety that defined his life. Steve was scared of dying, and he suffered through every waking moment of every day.
By vocation Steve had been a lineman for the phone company before a heart attack and emphysema forced him into retirement. By avocation he was a real Montana cowboy, living for his horses, winning numerous riding competitions and the affection of many for his willingness to teach horsemanship to

any child eager to learn. In appearance and in his lifelong smoking habit, Steve was also the proto-typical Marlboro Man. A man’s man, he was not one to express emotions or even admit to having them. More often than not, work and his horses had come before relationships–and family.
Now he was at the end of his rope. The specialists had exhausted every hope of cure, including hope for the lung transplant he had desperately sought. Steve was the one dying, but he was not the only victim of his condition. His wife, Dot, was his constant companion, nurse, handmaiden, and co- sufferer. If she were out of his sight for more than a minute, he would ring his bell or utter a dampened shout in high- pitched panic, “Dot. Dot!”
It took our hospice team two weeks and a combination of pharmacology, counseling, and pragmatism to gain Steve’s confidence. We were meticulous in giving him medication to relieve anxiety and tension. We also taught him to use relaxation tapes, and made suggestions regarding placement of his recliner that helped him breathe easier and not feel so isolated. We had hospice volunteers relieve Dot of caregiving for an hour or two here and there so that she could shop for groceries, see her own doctor, and get a few moments of rest. All our efforts, drawing on our experience and resources of palliative care, helped diminish–at least slightly–Steve’s breathlessness and paralyzing fear.
As we learned more of Steve’s personal history, however, we realized that his anxiety stemmed in part from the fractured nature of several key relationships and the complex, conflicted nature of his family’s life.
One Thursday, while I was visiting Steve and Dot at their home, we talked about his relationships with his family, about some of his regrets, and about his wishes for the people he loved. Then I taught him about the Four Things.

“Before any significant relationship is complete, before it’s brought full circle,” I said, “people have to say four things. Please forgive me, and I forgive you– because if this was a significant relationship, there will always be some history of hurt between them. Thank you. And I love you.”
“Those are really good, Doc.” Steve responded with unexpected enthusiasm. “Write those down for me, will ya?” he asked in his muffled, gravelly voice.
Using one of the 3 x 5 cards that I kept in my shirt pocket for jotting myself notes, I wrote the Four Things. Before leaving, I scheduled another visit in five days.

When I arrived the next Tuesday at noon, Dot stood waiting for me behind the glass storm door of the entry to their home. Steve and Dot were clearly eager to relate the events of the past weekend. On Sunday their children and grandchildren had come over for dinner. As they assembled around the table, Steve had announced that he had some things he needed to say. He began, “You know the doctors tell me that this emphysema is finally going to get me. And I know I haven’t always been the best father, or husband. Well, there are some things I want to say.” With his eyes on my handwritten list, he said the Four Things in his own words.
The effect on everyone there was remarkable. Although Steve’s anxiety did not disappear, its grip weakened on him in the wake of his remarks. When he asked forgiveness from the people he cared most about, he said that he had suddenly felt transformed. He was able to tell them how much they meant to him and how much he loved them. Steve’s life didn’t become easy, but it did become less anguished. After that day, everyone reported that there was now a tenderness and a cohesiveness among them that no one could remember having felt before. One of Steve and Dot’s adult daughters told me

that this was the first time in their lives together that she and her siblings were able to show affection openly to their father.
As he faced his life’s end, Steve was transformed and so was everyone around him. He was happier with himself than he could ever remember being, he said. Paradoxically, in the process of dying, he was healing and becoming well within himself. And in healing his own emotions, he helped his children heal theirs–for the rest of their lives.

Filling the Void
Transformations of this magnitude in response to saying the Four Things are not isolated or rare.
One day, I told Steve’s story during a lecture at Johns Hopkins University. Afterward, a large, middle-aged black man came toward me as I was leaving the auditorium and surprised me by abruptly embracing me. At first I was taken aback.
People were filing from the hall and here I was enveloped by an obviously emotional man, twice my size. He explained that he served as a chaplain at an inner-city public hospital in Baltimore and needed to tell me his story. Like many of the most affecting stories that I’ve heard over the years, it was about transformation at the very end of life.
A few months earlier, the chaplain had been paged to the bedside of a 33-year-old man who was dying of AIDS. Just two hours earlier the patient, Antoine, had found out that he had a teenage daughter and that she was on her way to the hospital to see him.
“I was terrified about saying the wrong thing,” said the chaplain. “I thought, Why me? What can I possibly do that would be of any help?' Then I remembered about sayingthe Four Things.’ I was present for Antoine’s and his daughter’s meeting and used the Four Things to guide their visit. Antoine needed little encouragement, or help, to ask, Can you forgive me?' and to say,Thank you for coming to see me,’ and `I

love you’ to this frightened, anxious 15-year-old girl. And Chantelle, who really does have her father’s eyes, was able to say, Thank you for being my father';Of course, I forgive you’; and then, `Daddy, I love you, too.’
“They visited for just over an hour, each hungry to ask questions and tell stories. There were lots of tears; it was hard to separate the tears of sadness from those of joy. Ultimately, Antoine’s fatigue and breathlessness forced their visit to end. They kissed each other as they said goodbye.”
Listening to this story, I was trembling, but the chaplain wasn’t done. “I checked on Antoine later that evening and found out he had died within three hours of the visit.”
This work will keep you humble.

Measuring Your Time by Its Depth, Not Its Length
Antoine’s life had been transformed in his last hours–he died knowing that he had a daughter, a daughter who loved him. Chantelle’s life was also changed forever. She now knows she had a father who loved her, who saw her as she was. He apologized, asked for her forgiveness, and she willingly gave it. She misses all that could have been, but feels fullness in her heart where there had previously been emptiness and pain.
Many people come to the end of their life with fractured relationships. But as the stories of Herb, Steve, and Chantelle show, the healing of a broken relationship in the last hours, or even minutes before death, can reframe the history of the relationship and the biographies of everyone involved. The Four Things can help us be honest and open. They present an extraordinary opportunity, one that is available to us all to use in our lives to heal any relationship, any day.

Of course, not all relationships are fractured.
Sometimes, our only regret is death’s relentless approach or another parting of ways. In these cases, the Four Things offer

a way of expressing sadness over the loss of a shared future and rejoicing over the gift of a shared past. By employing the Four Things in such circumstances, you measure time not in length, but in depth.
In situations in which time is extremely short, being prepared to say the Four Things can help make the best of the worst situation. Sometimes the Four Things come to us naturally, especially the need and desire to say, “I love you.” The people trapped on the upper floors of the World Trade Center and in the high-jacked planes on September 11, 2001, called their loved ones to say it one last time. It was the most important call they ever made. Saying “I love you” and expressing the spirit of the Four Things is a priceless gift for those who live on. The knowledge of being loved, even when you are separated from each other, sustains you and provides you with inner strength and comfort.

Appendix 12

A Gift for God–Mother Teresa

The passages below are quotations of Mother Teresa from the book “A Gift for God” complied by Malcolm Muggeridge.

  1. We know that if we really want to love we must learn how to forgive. (42)
  2. Love begins at home; love lives in homes, and that is why there is so much suffering and so much unhappiness in the world today. If we listen to Jesus he will tell us what he said before: “Love one another, as I have loved you.” He has loved us through suffering, dying on the Cross for us, and so if we are to love one another, if we are to bring that love into life again, we have to begin at home.(pg 18)
  3. We must make our homes centers of compassion and forgive endlessly.(18)
  4. A living love hurts. Jesus, to prove his love for us, died on the Cross. The mother, to give birth to her child, has to suffer. If you really love one another properly, there must be sacrifice.(19)
  5. Because we cannot see Christ we cannot express our love to Him; but our neighbors we can always see, and we can do for them what, if we saw Him, we would like to do for Christ.(36)
  6. There should be less talk; a preaching point is not a meeting point. What do you do then? Take a broom and clean someone’s house. That says enough. (53)
  7. All of us are but His instruments, who do our little bit and pass by. (53)
  8. Make sure that you let God’s grace work in your souls by accepting whatever He gives you, and giving Him whatever He takes from you. True holiness consists in doing God’s will with a smile.(45)
  9. Faith is a gift of God. Without it there would be no life. And our work, to be fruitful, and to be all for God, and to be beautiful, has to be built on faith—faith in Christ who has said, “I was hungry, I was naked, I was sick, and I was homeless, and you ministered to me.” On these words of His all our work is based. (21)
  10. To show great love for God and our neighbor we need not do great things. It is how much love we put in the doing that makes our offering Something Beautiful for God. (83)
  11. If you learn this art of being thoughtful, you will, become more and more Christlike, for His heart was meek and He always thought of others. Thoughtfulness is the beginning of great sanctity. Our vocation, to be beautiful, must be full of thought for others. Jesus went about doing good. Our Lady in Cana only thought of the needs of others and made their needs known to Jesus. (37)
  12. Faith is lacking because there is so much selfishness and so much gain only for self. But faith, to be true, has to be a giving love. Love and faith go together. They complete each other. (22)
  13. I think, dear friend, I understand you better now. I am afraid I could not answer to your deep suffering. I don’t know why, but you to me are like Nicodemus, and I am sure the answer is the same—“Unless you become a little child . . .“ I am sure you will understand beautifully everything—if you would only become a little child in God’s hands. Your longing for God is so deep, and yet He keeps himself away from you. He must be forcing Himself to do so, because He loves you so much as to give Jesus to die for you and for me. Christ is longing to be your Food. Surrounded with fullness of living Food, you allow yourself to starve. The personal love Christ has for you is infinite—the small difficulty you have regarding the Church is finite. Overcome the finite with the
    infinite. Christ created you because He wanted you. I know what you feel—terrible longing, with dark emptiness-
    –and yet, He is the one in love with you. I do not know if you have seen these few lines before, but they fill and empty me:

My God, my God, what is a heart
That thou should’st so eye and woo, Pouring upon it all thy heart
As if thou hadst nothing else to do? (22-23)

  1. Today what is happening on the surface of the Church will pass. For Christ, the Church is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow. The Apostles went through the same feelings of fear and distrust, failure and disloyalty, and yet Christ did not scold them—just ‘Litt1e children, little faith, why did you fear?” I wish we could love as He did—now. (24)
  2. Suffering in itself is nothing; but suffering shared with Christ’s passion is a wonderful gift. Man’s most beautiful gift is that he can share in the passion of Christ. Yes, a gift and a sign of His love; because this is how His Father proved that He loved the world—by giving His Son to die for us. (28)
  3. And so in Christ it was proved that the greatest gift is love: because suffering was how He paid for sin. (28)
  4. Without Him we could do nothing. And it is at the altar that we meet our suffering poor. And in Him that we see that suffering can become a means to greater love and greater generosity. (28)
  5. Without our suffering, our work would just be social work, very good and helpful, but not the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the Redemption. Jesus wanted to help by sharing our life, our loneliness, our agony, our death. Only by being one with us has He redeemed us.
    We are asked to do the same; all the desolation of the poor people, not only their material poverty, but their spiritual destitution, must be redeemed. And we must share it, for only by being one with them can we redeem

them by bringing God into their lives and bringing them to God. (29)

  1. Suffering, if it is accepted together, borne together, is joy.(29)
  2. Amongst our Co-Workers we have sick and crippled people who very often cannot do anything to share in the work. So they adopt a Sister or a Brother, offering all their sufferings and all their prayers for that Brother or that Sister, who then involves the sick Co-Worker fully in whatever he or she does. The two become like one person, and they call each other their second self. I have a second self like this in Belgium, and when I was last there she said to me: “I am sure you are going to have a heavy time, with all the walking and working and talking. I know this from the pain I have in my spine, and the very painful operation which I shall shortly need to have.” That is her seventeenth operation, and each time that I have something special to do, it is she behind me that gives me all the strength and courage to do what I have to do to fulfill God’s will. This is why I am able to do what I am doing; as my second self, she does all the most difficult part of the work for me. (29-30)
  3. If sometimes our poor people have had to die of starvation, it is not because God didn’t care for them, but because you and I didn’t give, were not instruments of love in the hands of God, to give them that bread, to give them that clothing; because we did not recognize Him, when once more Christ came in distressing disguise—in the hungry man, in the lonely man, in the homeless child, and seeking for shelter. God has identified himself with the

hungry, the sick, the naked, the homeless; hunger, not only for bread, but for love, for care, to be somebody to someone; nakedness, not of clothing only, but nakedness of that compassion that very few people give to the unknown; homelessness, not only just for a shelter made of stone, but that homelessness that comes from having no one to call your own. (32-33)

  1. Today, the same Christ is in people who are unwanted, unemployed, uncared for, hungry, naked, and homeless. They seem useless to the state and to society; nobody has time for them. It is you and I as Christians, worthy of the love of Christ if our love is true, who must find them, and help them; they are there for the finding.(36)
  2. There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work. This is where the respect and the love and the devotion come in—that we do it for God, for Christ, and that’s why we try to do it as beautifully as possible. (36)
  3. Christians stand as the light for the others. . . for the people in the world. If we are Christians then we must be Christlike.(37)
  4. A Christian is a tabernacle of the living God. He created me, He chose me, He came to dwell in me, because He wanted me. Now that you have known how much God is in love with you, it is but natural that you spend the rest of your life radiating that love. (38)
  5. To be a true Christian means the true acceptance of Christ, and the becoming of another Christ one to another. To love as we are loved, and as Christ has loved us from the Cross, we have to love each other and give to others.(38)
  6. When Christ said: ‘I was hungry and you fed me,” He didn’t mean only the hunger for bread and for food; He also meant the hunger to be loved. Jesus himself experienced this loneliness. He came amongst His own and His own received Him not, and it hurt Him then and it has kept on hurting Him. The same hunger, the same loneliness, the same having no one to be accepted by and to be loved and wanted by. Every human being in that case resembles Christ in his loneliness; and that is the hardest part, that’s real hunger. (38-39)
  7. I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness. (42)
  8. Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. (42)
  9. As each Sister is to become a Co-Worker of Christ in the slums, each ought to understand what God and the Missionaries of Charity expect from her. Let Christ radiate and live His life in her and through her in the slums. Let the poor, seeing her, be drawn to Christ and invite Him to enter their homes and their lives. Let the sick and suffering find in her a real angel of comfort and consolation. Let the little ones of the streets cling to her because she reminds them of Him, the friend of the little ones. (43)
  10. Our lives are woven with Jesus in the Eucharist, and the faith and the love that come from the Eucharist enable us to see Him in the distressing disguise of the poor, and so there is but one love of Jesus, as there is but one person in the poor—Jesus. We take vows of chastity to love Christ with undivided love; to be able to love Him with undivided love we take a vow of poverty that frees us from all material possessions, and with that freedom we can love Him with undivided love, and from this vow of undivided love we surrender ourselves totally to Him in the person who takes His place. So our vow of obedience is another way of giving, of being loved. And the fourth vow that we take is to give wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor. By this vow, we bind ourselves to be one of them, to depend solely on divine providence, to have nothing, yet possess all things in possessing Christ. (43-44)
  11. Let there be no pride or vanity in the work. The work is God’s work, the poor are God’s poor. Put yourself completely under the influence of Jesus, so that He may think His thoughts in your mind, do His work through your hands, for you will be all-powerful with Him to strengthen you. (45)
  12. God is purity Himself; nothing impure can come before Him, but I don’t think God can hate, because God is love and God loves us in spite of our misery and sinfulness. He is our loving Father and so we have only to turn to him. God cannot hate; God loves because he is love, but impurity is an obstacle to seeing God. This doesn’t mean only the sin of impurity, but any attachment, anything that takes us away from God, anything that makes us less Christlike, any hatred, any uncharitableness is also impurity. If we are full of

sin, God cannot fill us, because even God himself cannot fill what is full. That’s why we need forgiveness to become empty, and then God fills us with Himself. (45-46)

  1. Keep giving Jesus to your people, not by words, but by your example, by your being in love with Jesus, by radiating His holiness and spreading His fragrance of love everywhere you go. Just keep the joy of Jesus as your strength. Be happy and at peace. Accept whatever he gives—and give whatever he takes with a big smile. You belong to him. Tell him: “I am yours, and if you cut me to pieces, every single piece will be only all yours.” Let Jesus be the victim and the priest in you. (46- 47)
  2. Actually we are touching Christ’s body in the poor. In the poor it is the hungry Christ that we are feeding, it is the naked Christ that we are clothing, it is to the homeless Christ that we are giving shelter.
    It is not just hunger for bread or the need of the naked for clothes or of the homeless for a house made of
    bricks. Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own. (47)
  3. Jesus Christ has said that we are much more important to his Father than the grass, the birds, the flowers of the earth; and so, if He takes such care of these things, how much more would He take care of His life in us. He cannot deceive us; because life is God’s greatest gift to human beings. Since it is created in the image of God, it belongs to Him; and we have no right to destroy it. (48)
  4. Be kind and merciful. Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness;

kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile,
kindness in your warm greeting.

In the slums we are the light of God’s kindness to the poor. To children, to the poor, to all who suffer and are lonely, give always a happy smile. Give them not only your care, but also your heart. (52)

  1. A smile must always be on our lips for any child to whom we offer help, for any to whom we give companionship or medicine. It would be very wrong to offer only our cures; we must offer to all our heart. Government agencies accomplish many things in the field of assistance. We must offer something else: Christ’s love. (52)
  2. Let us ask our Lady to make our hearts “meek and humble” as her Son’s was. It is so very easy to be proud and harsh and selfish—so easy; but we have been created for greater things. How much we can learn from our Lady! She was so humble because she was all for God. She was full of grace. Tell our Lady to tell Jesus: “They have no wine; they need the wine of humility and meekness, of kindness and sweetness” She is sure to tell us, “Do whatever He tells you.”(57)
  3. You ask how I should see the task of the Missionaries of Charity if I were a religious sister or priest in Surrey or Sussex. Well, the task of the Church in such places is much more difficult than what we face in Calcutta, Yemen, or anywhere else, where all the people need is dressing for their wounds, a bowl of rice and a “cuddle,” with someone telling them they are loved and wanted. In Surrey and Sussex the problems of your people are deep down, at the bottom of their hearts. They have to come to know you and trust you, to see you as a person with Christ’s compassion and love, before their problems will emerge and you can help them. This takes a lot of time! Time for you to be people of prayer and time to give of yourself to each one of your people. (78)
  4. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind.” This is the commandment of the great God, and He cannot command the impossible. Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand. Anyone may gather it and no limit is set. Everyone can reach this love through meditation, spirit of prayer, and sacrifice, by an intense inner life. (81)
  5. There is no limit, because God is love and love is God, and so you are really in love with God. And then, God’s love is infinite. But part is to love and to give until it hurts. And that’s why it’s not how much you do, but how much love you put into the action. How much love we put in our presents. That’s why people—maybe they are very rich people—who have not got a capacity to give and to receive love are the poorest of the poor. And I think this is what our Sisters have got–—the

spreading of joy that you see in many religious people who have given themselves without reserve to God. (82)

  1. Our work is only the expression of the love we have for God. We have to pour our love on someone, and the people are the means of expressing our love for God. (82)
  2. We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature–
    -trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence; see the stars, the moon, and the sun, how they move in silence. Is not our mission to give God to the poor in the slums? Not a dead God, but a living, loving God. The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us. All our words will be useless unless they come from within; words that do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness. (83)
  3. The great hindrance to us in our work is that we are not yet saints; that we cannot spread to the full the love of Christ. That is what distresses us most when we travel. (84)
  4. Our progress in holiness depends on God and ourselves— on God’s grace and on our will to be holy. We must have a real living determination to reach holiness. “I will be a saint” means I will despoil myself of all that is not God; I will strip my heart of all created things; I will live in poverty and detachment; I will renounce my will, my inclinations, my whims and fancies, and make myself a willing slave to the will of God. (84)
  5. Dearest Lord, may I see You today and every day in the person of your sick, and, whilst nursing them, minister unto You. Though You hide Yourself behind the unattractive disguise of the irritable, the exacting, the unreasonable, may I still recognize You, and say: “Jesus, my patient, how sweet it is to serve you.” (87-88)
  6. Sweetest Lord, make me appreciative of the dignity of my high vocation, and its many responsibilities. Never permit me to disgrace it by giving way to coldness, unkindness, or impatience. (88)
  7. And, O God, while You are Jesus, my patient, deign also to be to me a patient Jesus, bearing with my faults, looking only to my intention, which is to love and serve You in the person of each of Your sick. Lord, increase my faith, bless my efforts and work, now and forevermore. (89)
  8. Lord, help us to see in Your crucifixion and resurrection an example of how to endure and seemingly to die in the agony and conflict of daily life, so that we may live more fully and creatively. You accepted patiently and humbly the rebuffs of human life, as well as the tortures of your crucifixion and passion. Help us to accept the pains and conflicts that come to us each day as opportunities to grow as people and become more like you. Enable us to go through them patiently and bravely, trusting that you will support us. Make us realize that it is only by frequent deaths of ourselves and our self-centered desires that we can come to live more fully; for it is only by dying with You that we can rise with You. (89-90)
  9. Let us all become a true and fruitful branch on the vine Jesus, by accepting Him in our lives as it pleases Him to come:
    as the Way–—to be walked; as the Truth–—to be told; as the Life–—to be lived;
    as the Light–—to be lighted; as the Love–—to be loved; as the Joy–—to be given;
    as the Peace–—to be spread;
    as the Sacrifice–—to be offered, in our families and our neighbors. (91-92)
  10. In Holy Communion we have Christ under the appearance of bread. In our work we find Him under the appearance of flesh and blood. It is the same Christ. (92)
  11. The Mass is the spiritual food that sustains me, without which I could not get through one single day or hour in my life; in the Mass we have Jesus in the appearance of bread, while in the slums we see Christ and touch Him in the broken bodies, in the abandoned children. (92)
  12. Joy is prayer; joy is strength, joy is love, joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. God loves a cheerful giver. She gives most who gives with joy. The best way to show our gratitude to God and the people is to accept everything with joy. A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of the Christ risen.

We all long for heaven where God is, but we have it in our power to be in heaven with Him right now–—to be happy with Him at this very moment. But being happy with Him now means:

loving as He loves, helping as He helps, giving as He gives, serving as He serves, rescuing as He rescues,
being with Him for all the twenty-four hours, touching Him in His distressing disguise. (95-

Appendix 13

Comfort Through Personal Helpfulness

by J. R. Miller, 1912

Every true Christian desires to be helpful. He longs to make his life a blessing to as many people as possible. He wishes to make the world better, his neighborhood brighter and sweeter, every life he touches, in even casual associations, somewhat more beautiful. It is worth while that we should think just how we must live if our lives—if we would reach this ideal. We cannot come upon this kind of a life accidentally. We do not drift into a place and condition of great usefulness.

The secret of personal helpfulness—is love in the heart. No one can be a blessing to others—if he does not love. Nothing but love will make another person happier, will comfort sorrow, will relieve loneliness, will give encouragement. You never can be of any real use to a man—if you do not care for him, and you care for him only so far as you are willing to make sacrifices to help him, to go out of your way to do a favor. It is never
by chance, therefore, that one finds himself living a life that is full of helpfulness. Such a life comes only through a regeneration that makes it new. That is what it meant to become a Christian.

The secret of Christ, was abounding personal helpfulness. We say he gave his life for the world—and we think of the cross. But the cross was in his life from the beginning. He never had a thought or a wish for himself. He never pleased himself. Ever

he was ready to give up his own comfort, his own ease, his own preferment, that another might be pleased or helped. With this thought in mind, it will be a most profitable piece of Bible reading, to go through the Gospels just to find how Christ treated the people he met. He was always kind, not only polite and courteous—but doing kindly, thoughtful, helpful things. His inquiry concerning every person was, “Can I do anything for you? Can I share your burden?
Can I relieve you of your suffering?”

The Good Samaritan was Christ’s illustration of love— and the illustration was a picture of his own life. There is no other way of personal helpfulness—but this way, and there is no other secret of attaining it—but his secret. You cannot learn it from a book of rules. It is not a system of etiquette. It is a new life—it is Christ living in the heart.

It is personal helpfulness of which we are thinking. A man may be useful in his community, may even be a public benefactor, may do much for the race—and yet may fail altogether to be a real helper of the individual lives he touches in his daily associations. A man may do much good with his money, relieving distress, founding institutions, establishing schools, and may not be a helper of men in personal ways. People do not turn to him with their needs. The sorrowing knows nothing of comfort ministered by him. The baffled and perplexed do not look to him for guidance, the tempted for deliverance, the despairing for cheer and encouragement.

It is this personal helpfulness, which means the most in the close contacts of human lives. So far as we know—Jesus never gave money to any one in need. He did not pay

rents for the poor, nor buy them food or clothes—but he was always doing good in ways which meant far more for them than if he had helped with money. There are needs which only love and kindness can meet.
Countless people move about among us these days starving for love, dying with loneliness. You can help them immeasurably by becoming their friend, not in any marked or unusual way—but by doing them a simple kindness, by showing a little human interest in them, by turning aside to do a little favor, by manifesting sympathy, if they are in sorrow. A little note of a few lines sent to a neighbor in grief, has been known to start an influence of comfort and strength that could not be measured.

It is the little things of love, which count in such ministry—the little nameless acts, the small words of gentleness, the looks that tell of interest and care and sympathy. Life is hard for many people—and nothing is more needed continually than encouragement and cheer. There are men who never do anything great in their lives, and yet they make it sunnier all about them, and make all who know them happier, braver, stronger. There are women, overburdened themselves, perhaps—but so thoughtful, so sympathetic, so helpful, so full of little kindnesses, that they make the spot of the world in which they live, more like heaven.

How can we learn this lesson of personal helpfulness? It is not merely a matter of congeniality of disposition; it is not a matter of natural temperament. A selfish man can learn it—if he takes Christ for his teacher. Self must be displaced in the thought and purpose and affection—

by “the other man.” If love fills the heart—every expression of the life gives out helpfulness.

A young woman, speaking of the way different people had been a comfort to her in a great sorrow, said: “I wish some people knew just how much their faces can comfort others.” Then she told of an old gentleman she sometimes sat beside, on the bus. He did not know her—but she was always helped by just seeing his face. There is a great deal of this unconscious helpfulness in the world. Indeed many of the best things we do—we do without knowing we are doing them. If we are full of love—we will be helping others wherever we go—and the things we do not plan to do when we go out in the morning—will be the divinest things of the whole day!

Not only is the life of personal helpfulness most worth while in the measure of good it does, in its influence upon others—but no other life brings back to itself such rewards of peace, of strength, of comfort, of joy. What of love you give to another—you have not really given away—you have it still in yourself in larger measure than before! No gain one gets in this world—is equal to the love of hearts that one receives, from those one serves in unselfish love!

Appendix 14
Love People

By Rev Albert Joseph Mary Shamon

All the passages below are taken from the book “Love People” by Rev. Albert Joseph Mary Shamon.

“Love is patient; love is kind.
Love is not jealous. It is not pompous, it is not inflated.
It is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered,
it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things,
believes all things, hopes all things,
endures all things… So faith, hope, love remain,
these three;
but the greatest of these is, LOVE”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The mission of the Church, said Paul VI, is to create a “civilization of love.”
Our Lady at Medjugorje has come precisely to bring peace to the world; and peace is the fruit of love. Again and again, Our Lady has emphasized the primacy of love in our lives.

“Love. If you do not love, you are not able to
witness, neither for me, nor for Jesus.” (6/6/86).

“I beseech you, dear children, live love within yourselves.” (7/10/86).

” dear children, decide also in favor of love. May
love prevail in all of you ” (11/20/86).

“Begin to love your enemies. Do not judge or slander. Do not scorn. Do not curse. Only give your adversaries love ” (1986).

In her message to the world, June 25, 1988, Our Lady

“Dear children, I am calling you to that love which is loyal and pleasing to God.

“Little children, love bears everything bitter and difficult for the sake of Jesus, Who is Love. Therefore, dear children, pray that God comes to your aid, not however, according to your desires, but according to His love.
Surrender yourself to God so that He may hear you, console you, and forgive everything inside you which is a hindrance on the way of love. In this way God can move your life and you will grow in love.

“Dear children, glorify God with a hymn of love so that God’s love may be able to grow in you day by day to its fullness.

“Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Our Lady speaks of love in this message eight times! In the light of these requests, I think no passage of
Scripture is more deserving of our study and prayer than Paul’s hymnic description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
In 14 words he describes Christian love. I have given those 14 words in their original Greek, together with their dictionary meaning and the translation rendered in the Revised New Testament.
Doing this has helped me to discover the revolutionary meaning of Christian love. May it help you also to make the same discovery.

August 31, 1990
Albert Joseph Mary Shamon


Following is the source for references used in this Introduction.

B = Barclay, Wm. Daily Study Bible. The Letter to the Corinthians, p. 130 (Philadelphia, Westminister Press, 1956).

A = Anchor Bible. Orr, Wm. and Walther, James. 1 Corinthians, Vol. 32, p. 289 (Garden City, NY, Doubleday, 1976).

N = New Testament Messages. Murphy-O’Connor, 0. P. 1 Corinthians, Vol. 10, p. 123 (Delaware, Glazier, Inc. 1979).

C = Cambridge Commentary. Thrall, Margaret. First and Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, pp. 91 ff. (Cambridge University Press, 1956).

RNT = Revised New Testament. S = Shamon, my translation.

“Love is patient; love is kind.
Love is not jealous. It is not pompous, it is not inflated.
It is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered,
it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things,
believes all things, hopes all things,
endures all things.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

AGAPE (ah GAH pay), Christian love is not an emotion, but an act of the mind and the will: to love as God loves—UNCONDITIONALLY—and so to love the loveless and the unlovable.

Paul uses two words to describe what love is; eight words to describe what love is not; and four words to describe what love does.


  1. makrothumEI = (passive) means to be longsuffering toward one, patient. It is directed to persons, not circumstances; it means bearing the shortcoming of others.

RNT: Love is patient.
S: Love is patient with people.

  1. chrestEUetai =(active) means to behave kindly, be kind or merciful.

RNT: Love is kind.
S: Love is kind to people.

  • * *


  1. zelOI means to strive after, to have zeal for one’s own status.

RNT: Love is not jealous. C: Love envies no one.
B: Love knows no envy. A: It is not jealous.
S: It is not jealous of people.

  1. perperEUetai means to boast or vaunt oneself, to be a braggart.

RNT: Love is not pompous. C: Love is never boastful.

B: Love is no braggart. A: It does not brag.
N: It is not boastful. S: Love does not brag.

  1. phusiOUtai means to puff up, make proud.

RNT: Love is not inflated. C: Love is not conceited.
B: It is not inflated with its own importance. S: Love is not puffed up with pride.

  1. aschemonEI means to behave unseemly.

RNT: Love is not rude.
B: It does not behave gracelessly.
A: It does not behave unpresentably. N: It is not arrogant or rude.

  1. zetEI means to seek for, seek after.

RNT: Love does not seek its own interests. C: Love is never selfish.
B: It does not insist on its rights.
A: It does not seek its own advantages. N: It does not insist on its own way.

  1. paroxUnetai means to provide, irritate, excite.

RNT: Love is not quick-tempered. C: Love is not quick to take offence. B: It never flies in a temper.
A: It does not seem irritated. N: It is not resentful.

  1. logIzetai means to reckon, calculate, compute.

RNT: Love does not brood over injury. C: Love keeps no score of wrongs.
B: Love does not store up the memory of any wrong it has received.
A: It does not calculate evil.

  1. adikIa means a wrong, an offence, injustice.

RNT: Love does not rejoice over wrongdoing. C: Love does not gloat over other men’s sins. B: It finds no pleasure in evil-doing.
A: It does not rejoice in injustice.

alethEIa means truth.

RNT: But rejoices with the truth.


  1. stEgei means to cover closely, to fend off, keep off.

RNT: Love bears all things.
C: There is nothing love cannot face. B: It can endure anything.
A: It keeps all confidences.
S: Love tries to cover up for people.

  1. pistEUei means to believe, trust in, put faith in, confide in, rely on a person.

RNT: Love believes all things. B: It is completely trusting.
S: Love has unshakeable faith in people’s goodness.

  1. elpIzei means to hope, expect.

RNT: Love hopes all things. B: It never ceases to hope.
S: Love always hopes for the best for people.

  1. hupomEnei means to abide patiently, endure, stand one’s ground, stand firm, uphold, support, maintain.

RNT: Love endures all things.
B: It bears everything with triumphant fortitude.
S: Love is never dismayed by people, no matter what.

  1. Love—Agape

In a Peanuts cartoon, Lucy says to Charlie Brown: “You know what I don’t understand? I don’t understand love!”
Charlie: ”Who does?”
Lucy: “Explain love to me, Charlie Brown.”
He says: “You can’t explain love. I can recommend a book or a poem or a painting, but I can’t explain love.”
Lucy retorts, “Well, try, Charlie Brown, try.”
Charlie says, ”Well, let’s say I see this beautiful, cute little girl walk by.”

Lucy interrupts: “Why does she have to be cute? Huh? Why can’t someone fall in love with someone with freckles and a big nose? Explain that!”
Charlie: ”Well, maybe you’re right. Let’s just say I see this girl walk by with this great big nose. ..”
Lucy: “I didn’t say GREAT BIG NOSE!”
By now Charlie has had enough; he sighs and says: “You not only can’t explain love, you can’t even talk about it.”

Well, St, Paul talked about love. He even tried to explain it. He set down a poetic masterpiece on the subject, a passage of surpassing beauty and power. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13, Paul talks about love—Christian love–
-the love poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us (Rom. 5:5).
The church at Corinth had been split wide open, because a self-seeking competitive, condemnatory spirit was rife in the Christian community there. The Corinthians had been specially gifted with charisms by the Holy Spirit. These gifts were meant to build up the Christian community.
Instead, they spawned division and dissension because of the boasting, elitism, rudeness, self-seeking that resulted. These gifts gave rise to everything but Christian love.
Without this love, Paul declared, nothing is worth anything; all is zero! The gift of tongues, prophecy, almsgiving, even martyrdom—all are worthless without love.
So, right in the middle of the charismatic gifts which the Corinthians were enjoying, Paul planted his magnificent description of Christian love. In fourteen words, he explains Christian love. He takes only two words to tell what Christian love is; eight words to tell what it is not: and four words to tell what Christian love does.

I suggest that we take Paul’s passage (1 Cor.
13:4-7) and read it every day for 14 weeks. Each week focus upon just one word, one facet of love. For instance, the first week could be spent on ”Love is patient”: the second week on ‘`Love is kind,” etc. After 14 weeks, note the effect on your life.
Before going into each aspect of love, the word “love” itself needs clarification. Today love is a generic term; like a ragbag, it includes everything from Hollywood love to heavenly love. So it was in Our Lord’s day.
Christians, as a result, almost had to coin a new word for Christian love. In English we have only one word to express all kinds of love. Greek, however, has at least four words.

The Greeks used the word eros to express love between the sexes, that is, erotic or sexual love.
They used the word storge to speak of family love–
-the love of parents for children and children for parents.
The most common Greek word for love was philia— love of friendship. It is used of the love of Jesus for Lazarus (Jn, 11:3, 36).
But all these words—eros, storge, philia—deal with emotions and feelings. They generally come unsought. We fall in love. We cannot help loving our kith and kin.

Christians, however, needed a word that would go far beyond the often selfish and emotional desires designated by those three words. They needed a word that would express their experience of God’s love. God’s love is UNCONDITIONAL; He loves the unlovable and the loveless. Such, too, must be the Christian’s love.
A word was needed to express this attitude of Christians to one another—a word that would reflect a love that had

the quality of God’s love, which is unconditional, unselfish and unseeking. So the New Testament writers picked out from Greek literature a word, not a brand-new one, but a rare, literary and uncommon word: agape (pronounced ah-GAH-pay). Paul uses this word in his prose poem on Christian love—the immortal 13th chapter of First Corinthians.
There is no good English word that translates agape.
The word—“love” may be used, but that is an omnibus word, carrying all kinds of connotations. “Charity” may be used, but that too smacks of “handouts.”
Agape, on the contrary, is far more. It is not just an emotion. It has to do with our mind and will. It is something we make up our minds to do. And we do it! It is a conquest, a victory, an achievement. No one ever naturally loves one’s enemies or the unlovable or people one does not like.
Of course, we cannot love our enemies or those we do not like with the same love we have for those nearest and dearest to us. That would be humanly impossible. Rather, we are to have at all times a certain attitude of mind and a certain direction of will toward all persons, no matter who they are whereby we wish the best for them all.
Agape means to love as God loves. He makes His rain to fall on the good and bad alike; His sun to shine on the just and the unjust. With God, it matters not who one is; be one saint or sinner, God seeks nothing but the highest good of all, even sinners.
Agape is the spirit that says: ”No matter what anyone does to me, I will never seek to harm him. I will not seek revenge. I will seek only his highest good.” That is Christian love: unconquerable benevolence, invincible good will! It is not just a feeling. It is a deliberate conviction of mind, a policy of life, a victory, a conquest of the will. It takes the whole person to

achieve Christian love—not just the heart—but mind and will as well, and the grace of God.
Today, persons do not understand each other.
Communications have broken down between people, because love has been lost. This breakdown in communication has been reflected by modern art and literature, hard rock and “music,” in a considerable degree. They communicate nothing from one person to another. For existence without love is absurd and therefore art and literature, hard rock and “music” must express absurdity.
The only disposition that makes communication (interpersonal relationships) possible is, as Paul points out, Christian love! For Christian love accepts the other person as one who exists in his or her own right; listens to what the other person is saying; communicates to the other person in language which he or she can understand; is goodwilled, aimed at the welfare of the other.
Let Paul now tell us what Christian love, what Godlike love, is. Learn what it is; then live it!

  1. Love Is Patient (1 Cor. 13:4)

The Greek word Paul uses for patience is makrothumei.
This word means patience with people, not patience with circumstances, like sickness, poverty, or death.

Paul was writing to the Corinthians—to people who needed to have patience with other people. Therefore, to his classic description of love, we can add a preposition plus people to each of his 14 descriptive words for love. Thus, love is patient—with people; love is kind—to people; love is not jealous—of people, etc.

Charlie Brown once said: “Mankind I love; people I hate.” But it is people we have to contend with. When people get close together, there is bound to be personality friction, for no two persons are alike. Rub two pieces of wood together, and you will have fire. Put people together under the same roof, in the same office or in the same parish or in the same house, like husband and wife, parents and children, and you will have plenty of fuel for a good fight.

A feuding married couple went to a priest for counseling. The priest sat at his desk, and the couple sat opposite him, and a cat and dog sat placidly by the desk. When the priest had finished his counseling, he concluded with these words: “Joe and Mary, why can’t you get along like this cat and dog?” Joe quipped, “Father, tie them together and see how long they’ll stay that way.”

As cars need a lubricant to keep parts that rub against other parts, like the pistons in the motor, from freezing fast, so people need a lubricant to keep them living smoothly together. That lubricant is the virtue of patience.
Our blessed Lord asked us to imitate His patience. “Learn from me,” He said, “for I am gentle and humble of heart” (Matt. 11:29). Our Lord, as far as we know, never had any physical ailments. He did not have to put up with bodily sickness. But He had to put up with people.

People afflict us in two different ways: some afflict us unwittingly, and some afflict us by their behavior. I often think of how hard it must have been for Our Lord to have had only the apostles for companions. He was the Word of God, divine intelligence. They were illiterate

fisherman; goodwilled, indeed, but often so obtuse when it came to understanding Him. Right up to the night before He died, He did not seem to get through to them. To Philip He said, “After I have been with you all this time, you still do not know me?” (Jn. 14:9). The same misunderstanding surfaced again after the Last Supper when He was talking to them about their mission. So, with divine patience, Jesus finally says, “Enough” (Lk. 22:38). Always, He was so gentle with them, for “love is patient.”
How often we may have thought that the people around us are stupid or do stupid things. Have you ever said, “He or she drives me up a wall!” “He or she means well, but they get on my nerves.” Or you complain, “Why they would make holy Job lose his patience.” You are really losing yours when you so think.
Then there are other people who afflict us just by their behavior. They are arrogant, self-righteous, judgmental, like the Pharisee in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector (Lk. 18:9-14). They look down on others, are snobbish, condemn others, spurn them, speak evil against them. That was the way most scribes and Pharisees treated Jesus.
He could have hit back, but He did not. And that is what patience really is.

Patience means accepting, enduring, suffering (that is where the word came from: patiens means ”suffering”) the slights, injuries, hurts inflicted by people— suffering them for the love of God.

What makes patience a virtue is its motive: love of God. “Love is patient,” that is, true Christian patience has to be an expression of love, of love of God.

A salesman puts up with all kinds of abuse—just to make a sale,
Indians used to endure frightful tortures—just to become ”a brave.”
Stoics suppressed their feelings—just to be considered “manly.”
Such endurance may be laudable, but it is not necessarily virtuous.

“Love is patient,” that is, true patience must be an expression of love, of love of God. It is that motive which makes all endurance a virtue. It is not what we do that counts, but why; not the mountains we move, but the motives that impel us to move them.
True Christian patience puts up with others just as God puts up with us. He lets His sun shine on good and bad alike and His rain fall on the just and the unjust. (Cp., Matt. 5:45). With God there is no favoritism (Rom. 2:11).
Christian love must be like that. God loves all and always has their highest good at heart. Our Lady at Medjugorje repeatedly answered, when asked about her love for a particular people or nation, that she is the Mother of all and loves all and wills the salvation of all peoples. Christian patience must be like that—an expression of a love that is Godlike and Marylike.

We need patience just to survive—for people are people. Some will be inconsiderate; some will be downright mean and selfish. And we shall inevitably run into such people. Their meanness and inconsideration could make us sad, depressed or discouraged. If we let that happen, life for us will come to a standstill. “Sorrow,” said Paul, “brings death” (2

Cor. 7:10). Sirach said it does no good to yield to it (30:23). Shakespeare called sorrow the enemy of life.

Patience, on the contrary, does not just endure hurts and injuries; rather it embraces them with love and so sucks out the venom in them. Instead of sorrow, there is joy—joy in knowing that evil has been turned into good.

Without patience we will not survive in life. I remember flying from Chicago to Kansas City one summer. It was the bumpiest ride I ever had. The wings flapped like a seal before breakfast. I thought the plane would fall apart. Later, I learned that elasticity had been built into the wings on purpose. Had the wings been rigid and inflexible, the sudden stresses and strains from wind and air pockets would have snapped them.
On their drawing boards, engineers call this give and take “tolerance.” Tolerance is the amount of stress a wing can take before it snaps.
What engineers build into the cold end of an aluminum wing, we must build into our hearts. How many homes have been broken up, because there is no tolerance—no give or take, no patience.

Aesop has a fable titled, “The Oak and the Reed.” In a mighty storm the proud Oak said, “I will not bend before the wind.” Then a sudden strong gust of wind came and uprooted the unbending Oak. As the Oak lay prostrate on the ground, it saw a tiny reed swaying in the storm. The Oak asked, “How is it that I who am so mighty have been uprooted, whereas you who are so frail still stand in the storm?” The Reed answered, “I give in a little to the wind.” How often just to give in, to say, “I’m sorry,” has saved many a relationship.

Patience is not weakness; it is not becoming a door mat. It is an experience of such great love that it wins over people. No person ever treated Abraham Lincoln with greater contempt than Edwin Stanton. He called Lincoln a “low cunning clown.” He nicknamed him “the original gorilla.” Lincoln said nothing. Instead, when he needed a Secretary of War, Lincoln appointed Stanton, because he was the best man for the job. He treated Stanton with every courtesy.

The years wore on. The night came when Lincoln was assassinated. The body of the murdered President was taken to a little room. That night, Stanton looked down on the face of Lincoln in all its ruggedness; and, through tears, Stanton said: “There lies the greatest ruler of men the world has ever seen.” The patience of love had conquered in the end.

It is only patience that will help people become better than they are and make us better than we are.

Like the shaft of water hitting the turbines at Niagara making them move, so love not striking back moves people toward God and toward one another.

I do not want
The bravery of those Who, gun in hand,
Rush forth to slay their foes.

Not hatred, greed,
Or glory of conquest, Would I find rooted
In my human breast,

But this, 0 God, I ask:
“Please make me strong To offer love to those
Who do me wrong.”

  1. Love Is Kind (1 Cor 13:4)

Our Lord said, ”Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart” (Matt. 11:29).
Gentleness expresses itself passively by patience and actively by kindness.
Patience puts up with afflicters; kindness reaches out to the afflicted. Both virtues are the fruit of the Holy Spirit—the products of His work in our souls (Gal. 5:22).
Perhaps no virtue is so winsome as kindness. Everybody loves a kind person. A smile, a kind word, a helping hand-
–these can draw a person to religion more surely than an eloquent homily. The heart of Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame, was won by an act of kindness, a drink of water, given him by the gypsy girl Esmeralda.

St. John Bosco, the founder of the first Boys Town, based his Salesian system of education on what he called the ”Preventive” System. Like a three-legged stool, the Preventive System was built on reason, religion and kindness. Don Bosco believed the adage: A drop of honey can attract more flies than a barrel of vinegar.
For the wellsprings of kindness are esteem and sympathy. An act of kindness says, “I think a lot of you. I care about you.”

St. Jerome called kindness “the benignity of love.” Benignity is a word worth tearing apart, because it can shed wonderful light on what kindness is. According to some dictionaries, benignity is made up of two Latin words: bene meaning well; and ignis meaning fire. Benignity means being on fire to do well for others. That is not a bad definition for kindness.
Kindness is good will toward others. It seeks to ease another’s pain or to soothe another’s anxieties, fears or anger. It positively strives to make others happy. Isn’t that wonderful? And what a wonderful world this would be if everybody were just kind!
Kindness is a characteristic of God. The Psalmist wrote: “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. The Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all his works” (Ps. 145:8-). God’s sole concern in sending His Son to earth was to eliminate suffering and bring joy.
How accurate are the words of the Christmas carol: “Loving- kindness shed abroad at Christmas.” The Incarnation was an act of God’s kindness: love stooping down to lift up.
The entire life of Christ can be summed up in the one word “kindness.” Jesus was the kindest person Who ever walked this earth. When the sick were brought to Him, He healed them. When lepers came to Him, He cleansed them. He wept over the dead and restored them to life. He multiplied loaves and fish to feed the hungry. He did not spurn the tears of Magdalen nor the woman caught in adultery. He was moved by Peter’s tears and the penitent thief’s prayer. In His Passion He spoke only three times—to help. After that, He remained silent rather than become unkind. On the cross, His first words were, “Father, forgive them.” His final act was to die that He might send us His Spirit to give us patience, kindness, and generosity (Gal. 5:22).

When Our Lord’s kindness was attacked in the seventeenth century by the Jansenists, He appeared to the Visitation nun, St. Margaret Mary, and showed her His heart, burning with love for all. Our Lord told Margaret Mary, “Behold the heart which has loved mankind so much.” So that mankind should never again forget His loving kindness, He asked that the Feast of the Sacred Heart be instituted in the Church. And it has been, the Friday after Corpus Christi.

The Sacred Heart is a heart of love. A loving heart is a kind heart. Love is kind. Thus whenever we are kind to others, we are most like Christ.

Kindness manifests itself in four ways: by compassion, generosity, graciousness and friendliness.

Compassion was the first thing that God put into our hearts to make them most like His. A kind face cheers the sad. A kind word uplifts the discouraged. A kind act removes fear on the part of someone who might feel all alone. Such compassionate kindness makes life worth living—makes a Heaven of earth.

A kind heart is also a generous heart. And generosity is kind when it is delicate: not done to be seen by others; when it is unselfish: not to seek anything in return; and when it is sensitive: considerate of the dignity and feelings of the recipient.

In The Vision of Sir Launfal, when Sir Launfal starts out on his quest on a bright day in June, he meets a leper begging at his castle gate. “This blot on the landscape” causes Sir Launfal to cringe in loathing. Yet from a sense of duty, he tosses him a piece of gold in scorn. The leper did not pick it up

from the dust. “Better to me the poor man’s crust,” said the leper.

“Better the blessing of the poor,
Though I turn me empty from his door; That is no true alms which the hand can hold;
He gives nothing but worthless gold Who gives but to give.

What counts is—

“Not what we give, but what we share, For the gift without the giver is bare;
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three— Himself, his hungering neighbor, and Me.”

True kindness is gracious. Graciousness implies courtesy, consideration toward the feelings of others: it is the salt that flavors generosity. St. Francis de Sales always wore a smile and his face always shone with a love that colored all his words and acts. St. Vincent de Paul declared that he had never met a kinder man in all his life than Francis de Sales. Even God loves a cheerful giver.

In The House of the Seven Gables, the street corner philosopher, Uncle Venner, gave Hepzibah this advice on making her penny store a success: “Put on a bright face for your customers, and smile pleasantly as you hand them what they ask for! A stale article, if you dip it in a good, warm, sunny smile, will go off better than a fresh one that you’ve scowled upon.”

Finally, a kind heart is a friendly heart. Kindness means being a friend. One of the great pains of modern people is loneliness, to be friendless. It is the difference between an empty house and a home filled with loving people. Jesus came to call us friends. He shared with us all that He heard from the Father (Jn. 15:15). One greatest act of kindness is to extend to others the glad hand of friendship, to share with them.

The true friend develops a genuine interest in others and their concerns. The true friend is thoughtful-
–remembers special dates with a drop-in or a card. The true friend is loyal, sensitive to moods, sympathetic and grateful.
One thing the kind avoids is criticism and jokes that hurt other people. Francis de Sales felt about the shortcomings of another as that other felt about his own shortcomings. He always gave the best interpretation. We may be mistaken, but ten thousand mistakes are better than one rash judgment; for mistakes are not sins, rash judgments are. Ben Jonson, England’s first Poet Laurette, gave a good piece of advice when he said: “God defers His judgment till Judgment Day; let us do likewise.” We are so ready to excuse ourselves, let us not be so ready to accuse our neighbor.
If we could only see the way he came,
With all its jagged rocks and crooked ways, We might more kindly think of his mistakes,
And only praise.

If we could know the heartaches he has felt, The longings for the things that never came,
We would not misconstrue his erring them, Nor even blame,

Kindness is a double blessing: it blesses him who gives and him who receives. There is no happiness like that of a person whose heart is filled with good-will toward others. And there is no joy like that of a person who feels he is esteemed and loved by another.
After Portia had saved the Merchant of Venice’s life, and she and Nerissa were returning home, she saw a candle lit in a window, put there by her servants to light her way home.
Pointing to the light, Portia said to Nerissa:

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.”

Make up your mind to be kind. Then encourage every feeling of good-will toward your neighbor. Do not listen to criticism nor give in to harshness.

Francis de Sales, the gentleman saint, and St. Vincent de Paul, the apostle of charity, both prayed long and hard to get rid of harshness and ungraciousness. For unkind feelings, unexplainable aversions, baseless jealousies, sudden fits of anger, surface when we least expect them—for these are the weeds of our fallen nature.

One of the greatest sources of kindness is the Sacrament of Love, the Holy Eucharist. Love has to be put into us, as we put gasoline into our car. And this sacrament is the service station of love. Gradually, communion with Christ will make us Christlike—loving and kind persons.
Where Christ is most present, man is most humanized; where Christ is most absent, man is most brutalized.
Kindness pays even here and now. If ever you go to the Thousand Islands, in upper New York State, you will visit Boldt’s Castle. It was built by George Boldt for his wife. George

Boldt was a night clerk in a third class hotel in Philadelphia. One night two tired elderly people came into his hotel and pleaded, ”Mister, please don’t tell us you don’t have a room. My wife and I have been all over the city looking for a place to stay. We did not know about the big conventions that are here. The hotels at which we usually stay are all full. We’re dead tired and it’s after midnight. Please don’t tell us you don’t have a place where we can sleep.”
The clerk looked at them a long moment and then answered, “Well, I don’t have a single room except my own. I work at night and sleep in the daytime. It’s not as nice as the other rooms, but it’s clean, and I’ll be happy for you to be my guests for, tonight.”
The wife said, “God bless you, young man.”
The next morning at the breakfast table, the couple sent the waiter to tell the night clerk they wanted to see him on very important business. The night clerk went in, recognized the two people and said he hoped they had had a good night’s sleep. They thanked him most sincerely. Then the husband astounded the clerk with this statement, “You are too fine a hotel man to stay in a hotel like this. How would you like for me to build a big, beautiful, luxurious hotel in the city of New York and make you general manager?”
The clerk didn’t know what to say. Naturally, he thought there might be something wrong with their minds. He finally stammered, “It sounds wonderful.” His guest then introduced himself. “I’m John Jacob Astor.”
Within two years, Astor built the Waldorf Astoria Hotel and the night clerk became, in the years to follow, the best known hotel man in the world.
In 1976, the 47-story Waldorf Astoria in New York City had served three-quarters of a million guests in its 1,900 rooms, George Boldt became a millionaire through an act of kindness.

Never fear to be kind. Kindness will do you no harm, cause you no regrets, bring you no bitterness. Kindness will make you most like God and will make the world a better place in which to live.

  1. Love Is Not Jealous (1 Cor. 13:4)
    Thus far, Paul has described love in two words: love is patient; love is kind.
    Next, he lists eight undesirable qualities of love; eight things that love is not!
    Topping his list is the most unlovable vice in the whole gamut of undesirables: jealousy. The word Paul uses is zeloi, meaning “zeal.” Jealous and zealous not only sound alike but they are very much alike. Both words mean to pursue something eagerly and energetically. There is nothing vicious about that. In fact, Paul uses jealous in this good sense when he writes: “Set your hearts (zeloute) on the greater gifts” (1 Cor. 12:31),

Moses speaks of God as a jealous God—“I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God” (Ex. 20:5). Jealous, because He desires our love and obedience exclusively. A husband wants his wife’s love exclusively, and she expects his exclusive love. A father cannot be indifferent to the love and obedience of his children. Neither can God be indifferent to the love and obedience of His children. Asked Francis Thompson:

“Ah! Is Thy love indeed
A weed, albeit an amaranthine weed, Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?”

Because He is a jealous God, He pursues us eagerly, energetically, relentlessly. Thompson dared call Him “the Hound of Heaven.” He comes after us:

“with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbed peace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy. . .”

For He is jealous for us, lest we be betrayed by false gods; lest our hearts’ desire—the love and happiness that can be found in Him alone—escape us.
But jealousy also has a bad and an ugly side. It can mean to envy. When Paul writes that love is not jealous, he means love does not envy.
Jealousy, or envy, is a vice nobody likes; it is so unlovable that when a person has it, he or she tries to conceal it. Somebody said jealousy is a respectable vice: it dresses like virtue and talks like a religious. Our Lord branded the scribes and Pharisees as “whitewashed tombs, beautiful to look at on the outside but inside full of filth and dead men’s bones” (Matt. 23:27).
Ugly as it is, jealousy is everywhere, like a weed: in the young and in the old.
Jealousy is a normal reaction in children, a sign of growing up. Self-assertion is needed if a child is to grow up and not become a door mat or a perpetual Yes- man. It is normal for a 2-year-old to be jealous of the new baby or the 5-year-old to envy the other kid’s toys. These are not harmful if we grow out of them and not grow up with them.
And you grow up with your jealous reactions when you belittle the person in your office who gets a promotion by telling everyone else, “It’s nice to have a pull.” Or when you all of a sudden find you have no time

for a committee when your “friend” has been elected chairman.
Envy is the mark of a poor loser. It is a defense mechanism we use to avoid facing up to the fact that we are not number one. It is thwarted pride. That is why it usually stalks the successful. As a shadow follows those who walk in the sun, so envy dogs those who excel others. No sun, no shadows; no prosperity, no envy. The tornado spares the reed, but woe to the oak!

St. Thomas tells us that envy is sorrow about another’s good fortune. Another’s virtue vexes the envious person. Another’s praise sickens him. Someone said of an envious person who one day was unusually sad that either some great misfortune had befallen him or some great good fortune had happened to his “friend.”

Envy is the one vice that has not a shred of pleasure in it. It destroys peace of soul and makes the envious one positively miserable. How unhappy Saul became over the popularity of David (1 Sam. 18:7). Ahab could not rest till he possessed the vineyard of Naboth (1 Kgs. 2L4). The elder son sulked at the restoration of his prodigal brother (Lk. 15:28). The laborers in the vineyard complained that the last workers received as much as the first (Matt. 20:12).
Instead of rejoicing at another’s good fortune, envy weeps. How ugly! How frustrating! How foolish!

No wonder Paul said that “love is not jealous.”
Love is patient; jealousy is murderous. “. . . by the envy of the devil death entered the world” (Wis. 2:24). The first murder, Abel by Cain, was spawned by jealousy (Gen. 4:5).

Love is kind; jealousy is unkind. What could be meaner than to sell one’s own brother into slavery? And the half-brothers of Joseph did just that because of envy.
Shakespeare’s play Othello unfolds all the evil consequences of envy. Iago’s villainous envy destroys the innocent Desdemona and the noble Othello.

Love is joyful; envy is joyless. Love is light; envy is darkness.
Love is peaceful like a summer evening; envy is troubled like a turbulent sea.
Love is pure like a mountain stream; envy is foul like a city sewer.
Love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit; envy is the fruit of the flesh.
Love is the spirit of Christ; envy is the spirit of Hell.

Therefore, we should do everything within us to detect this vice in ourselves and eradicate it.
How can we detect it? The Pharisees envied Jesus. How did they show it?
First, they started a whispering campaign: “We know His father and mother, just ordinary people.” Then they belittled Him and His deeds: “He cures on the Sabbath.” “He casts out devils by Beelzebub.” When these methods did not work, they resorted to the smear campaign: “He is a Samaritan.” ”He has a devil.” ”He eateth with sinners,” implying He was one.
As the appetite grows with eating, so envy grows with envying—and it grows into downright hatred. Hate seeks to destroy. So the Pharisees plotted the murder of Jesus. Nor was that enough. To vent their spleen, they had Him killed in the cruelest way possible: crucifixion. And to make Him a person

no longer to be envied, they tried to strip Him of His reputation by having Him crucified between two thieves.

Well, are we whisperers, gossips? Are we chronic critics? Sarcastic? Do we deprecate: talk disparagingly about another’s accomplishment? Do we belittle something that means a lot to another? Or worse still, are we character assassins?

Or do we turn in on ourselves? A wife gives her husband the silent treatment, because she is jealous of the time he spends on his job. Or a husband may be jealous because his wife earns more than he does, so he coddles his hurt ego by gambling, drinking, or eating too much.

Fortunately, we can do something about jealousy.
Persons can change. That is the essence of the gospel.
One of the best ways to dissipate an emotion is by reasoning. That is why we say “count ten” before getting angry. Thought defuses an emotion.
Just think of this. Each flower has its own beauty. It makes no difference if it be tall as the sunflower or lowly as the humble violet. Every flower is beautiful.
So are you!
“Person” means somebody unique, somebody distinct from everybody else, an unrepeatable creation. You are somebody nobody else is. As no two fingerprints are alike, so no two persons are exactly alike.
Each of you has a role to play in life no one else can play. As in a symphony, each player is important, so in the symphony of life each one of you is important.

Each of you has a talent no one else has. What difference does it make if it be one or three or five talents? All that concerns God is that we use the talent he has given us. He asks no more. To be you is enough! The glory of God is man fully human. How foolish, then, to be envious!

Secondly, before we begrudge another’s success, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. An old Indian proverb says, “I will condemn no brave until I have walked for at least six moons in his moccasins.” Don’t begrudge any person his or her achievements until you have kept their schedule for six weeks or six days or six hours. When you discover the cost that they have paid for their success, you will compliment, not begrudge.

And lastly, the best way to overcome envy of another is this: talk to the person you envy and pay him/her the honest compliment his/her achievement deserves.

Ethel Merman had held undisputed sway as queen of musical comedy on Broadway until the night when “South Pacific” came to town and Mary Martin tried to wash Ezio Pinza right out of her hair. That night everybody knew that there were two musical queens. Miss Merman was present on that historic occasion. As she was leaving the Majestic Theatre, she was asked, “What do you think of Mary Martin?”
“Oh, she’s all right, I guess, if you like talent,” said Miss Merman.
So be honest, be content with what and who you are, be generous, but above all, be loving. A loving person is never jealous. Love is not jealous.

  1. Love Is Not Pompous (1 Cor. 13:4)

In the Revised New Testament, when Paul speaks of what love is not, the translation is, “Love is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated.” To be pompous and to be inflated seem to say practically the same thing. Yet in Greek the words used are different.

The Greek word translated “to be pompous” is perperteuetai. The dictionary says the word means “to boast of oneself or to be a braggart.” The Greek word translated “to be inflated” is phusioutai. The dictionary says it means “to puff up, to make proud.” The meanings are different. Therefore, for this article and the next, I prefer to “love is not pompous” the translation that “love does not brag,” or “love is not boastful.” And to “love is not inflated” I prefer “love is not puffed up with pride.”

Paul says, “Love does not brag, is not boastful.” Why doesn’t love brag or boast?
I suppose it is because love is kind; whereas bragging or boasting can be very unkind and hurtful, since it diminishes others.

The braggart does not feel superior to others, he lets others know he is. Much of the divisions in the Church in Corinth in Paul’s time was due to those gifted with tongues and prophesies. They felt superior to the rest of the Christian community. So, they separated themselves from the others, formed their own little cliques, elitist groups. Paul blasted this arrogance with the beautiful comparison of the human body. “Can the head say to the feet,” he asked, ”I don’t need you?” (1 Cor. 12:21).

Boasting is an inordinate pursuit of esteem from others.
Pride resides in the heart; boasting lies in words. The proud man thinks in his heart, “What a wonderful person I am!” The braggart says in words, “I’ll just tell you all what a wonderful person I am!” Pride is inflated egoism; boasting is egotistical braggadocio. Pride is odious; boasting is ridiculous. Shakespeare in his play “Henry IV” still gets many a laugh from that braggart, that huge hill of flesh, that liar without malice, Sir John Falstaff.
Jack Benny in one of his old radio programs had this line: “I lack only one qualification of a great actor, I am slightly hard of hearing—the result of so much deafening applause, y’ know.”

The tendency to boast is in all of us. Sometimes we are entirely unaware of it. A father said to his son guilty of bragging, “Son, I’ve told you a million times not to exaggerate.”

The daughter of a country squire who liked to be called “Colonel” was asked if her father’s hens laid eggs. “Of course they can,” she replied haughtily, ”but in our position, you know, they really don’t have to.”

Oftentimes, however, boasting is more or less conscious. Why does one buy an expensive car? Or a gown made in Paris? Or a shirt with an alligator embroidered on it? Or join an exclusive club? Why are cosmeticians building a billion dollar industry? Why are titles—Dr., Ph.D., etc—so cherished?

There are at least four basic reasons why people brag or boast.

The first most universal and fundamental reason is that one may think he or she is better than others. In

Our Lord’s parable of the Pharisees and the tax-collector, the Pharisee boasted: “I give thanks, 0 God, that I am not like the rest of men—grasping, crooked, adulterous—or even like this tax-collector. I fast twice a week. I pay tithes on all I possess” (Lk. 18:11-12). I—I—I. Augustine said, “He did not go up to pray but to praise himself.” Perhaps the Pharisee so boasted in order to find comfort for a conscience ill at ease.

A second reason for bragging can come from getting your heart’s desire. Some people have their heart set only on money, position or knowledge. For them such things are the end-all and the be-all of their very existence. Let them attain even one of these goals and they most assuredly will start “crowing.”

I remember when Nelson Rockefeller died, I was flying from St. Thomas Island to the States. The passenger sitting with me was a Chicago businessman. He was almost ecstatic with the headline that day: ”Rockefeller leaves 70 million.” “Father,” he said, “isn’t that wonderful to leave 70 million to one’s heirs? Isn’t that something?” To that man money meant almost everything. It meant a successful life to him. So, I simply said, ”He left it!” Our Lord called the rich man who thought only of this world, “You fool!” (Lk. 12:20).

A third reason for boasting is thoughtlessness, forgetting who we really are. A person may look into a mirror and then go off and promptly forget what he looked like (Jas. 1:24). Abraham said, “I am but dust and ashes” (Gen.
18:27)—and so are we all. Yet we forget. We forget that without God we can do nothing; that what we have we have received from Him. The sin of the fallen angels was pride; the sin of man is forgetfulness—especially to forget that:

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave, Awaits alike the inevitable hour:
The paths of glory lead but to the grave. (Gray’s Elegy).

A final reason for boasting is presumption. Youth tends to be presumptuous. Youth has strength, energy, health, years ahead to look forward to. So youth is liable to put too much trust in tomorrow, to live in the “future tense.”
Francis Thompson wrote, “In the rash lustihood of my young powers, I shook the pillaring hours”; that is, in the vigor of his youth instead of serving God, he squandered his time in vain pursuits, thus shaking and pulling down, like Samson, the whole temple of time to his own destruction.
Now is the acceptable time. “We are,” as St. James put it, “a vapor that appears briefly and vanishes” (Jas. 4:14).
Therefore, not to look to this final day is reprehensible boasting. “Too late have I found Thee,” lamented the great St. Augustine.
Boasting is fraught with dangers.
If you peg yourself too high, you are going to lose altitude. But if you start low, you usually will go up higher (Lk. 14:10-11). It is proverbial that pride goes before a fall.

Napoleon, on the eve of his Russian campaign, detailed his schemes to a noble lady with such arrogant positiveness that she tried to check him saying, “Sir, man proposes; but God disposes.”
“Madam,” replied the emperor haughtily, “I propose and I dispose too.”
On the western boundary of Russia, there stands a granite shaft. On the side facing west are these words: “Napoleon passed this way in 1812 with 410,000 men.”

On the side facing east are these words: “Napoleon passed this way in 1812 with 9,000 men,”
I remember an old man from Belfast, Ireland, who came in to the sacristy after a homily in which I had mentioned the Titanic. He said, “Father. I want to share this with you about the Titanic. I worked on it. When it was launched, all us Irish Catholics said it was a doomed ship.” I asked why. He said the graffiti on the hull inside the ship was blasphemous; one inscription brashly boasted, “Not even God can sink this ship.”

Bragging is so foolish. Paul labeled braggarts noisy gongs and clanging cymbals. The Latin phrase for them
was Vox et praeterea nihil; that is, “mouth and nothing more.” As a result, no intelligent person listens to a braggart. Words, like dollars, lose their value by inflation. Empty barrels make the loudest noise.

Aesop tells the fable of a crow sitting in a tree with a piece of meat in its mouth. A fox below was determined to get the meat. So the fox began to flatter the crow. “What a beautiful, big bird you are,” he said, “You ought to be the king of birds; and you would, if only you had a voice as well.” The crow, so anxious to prove he had a voice, croaked for all he was worth and the meat fell from his mouth to the ground. The fox snapped it up and said, “If to all your other qualifications, you added brains, you would make an ideal king.”
So, we have the expression, “Don’t crow.” Bragging is not only foolish, but the braggart is a fool to listen to flattery or to want it.
Love, therefore, does not brag or boast. Love is humble. Love is modest. It seeks to please only God. As Christ advised, it prays in secret, fasts in secret, gives alms in secret (Matt. 6:1-18). It conceals its good works as the sea does the pearl.

To achieve this, one ought every morning pray the Morning Offering; that is, make the intention when you get up to do all things for God. St. Alphonsus Liguori lists four signs that can tell us if what we do is for God or for plaudits. First, does failure disturb you? Secondly, do you rejoice at good done by another as heartily as if it were done by yourself? Thirdly, if after your actions do you seek the thanks or approbation of others? Finally, do you leave all things in the hands of God? St. Francis de Sales had the motto: Ne rien demandez, ne rien refusez; that is, “Ask nothing (do not be self-seeking), refuse nothing (accept all God permits).”

St. Paul was so modest that he would not baptize people lest they say, “I was baptized by Paul”; and Paul would be exalted and not Christ (1 Cor. 1:15). Peter did the same thing (Acts 10:48), for the same reason.
Michaelangelo so placed his candle in his pasteboard cap that his own shadow would never fall in such a way as to hinder his work.
“Love does not boast,” for true Christian love thinks always of the other, God and neighbor, and will never let self get in the way, crowd out the One or the other.

  1. Love Is Not Inflated ( 1 Cor. 13:4)

In the last article we preferred the dictionary meaning of the Greek “Love does not boast” to the translation ”Love is not pompous.”
So here, we prefer to the translation ”Love is not inflated” the dictionary meaning of the Greek, which is “Love is not puffed up with pride.”

In this instance, Paul goes to the heart of boasting, which is pride. Pride is an overestimation of self to the exclusion of God. Self-esteem is good. But it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Any extreme is bad. To eat is good, but not too much eating or too little. To sleep is good, but again oversleep or lack of sleep is not. To love oneself is good, but not in extremes. Virtue stands between extremes. Pride is extreme self-love. It smacks of idolatry, for it idolizes self: puts self on God’s throne.

The members of the Church in Corinth were exceedingly gifted. Unfortunately, their grace did not equal their gifts. As a result a proud spirit developed. Parties were formed that glorified in name-dropping so that others might glorify them. One said, “I was baptized by Paul, so that makes me special.” Another said, “I belong to Apollos, and that makes me superior to you” (1 Cor. 1:12; 4:6). One exalted himself above another and against him. He not only thought himself better than his brother, but assumed a hostile attitude toward him. The result was cliques, factions, fracturing the unity of the Christian community.
All this disturbed Paul no little bit. He rebuked their pride, but did it wisely. Paul did not belittle their gifts. These were real enough. You cannot bring a person to his senses by undervaluing his gifts. Like the fox in Aesop’s fable, to pooh-pooh the gifts would have evoked the reply of ”sour grapes.” Paul was more sensible. He simply asked, “Where did your gifts come from? Name something that you have that you have not received” (1 Cor. 4:6). During a visit, one lady said to her host, “My besetting sin is pride.” One of the children present asked, innocently and wonderingly, “Why? What have you to be proud of?”

Pride is so despicable, because it arrogates to oneself what belongs to another. It is dishonest. God Who cannot hate resists the proud. To resist means to hold back. God is love and He so wants to give to us His gifts; but pride is so distasteful to Him that it forces Him to hold back from doing what He delights in doing, namely, to shower us with His gifts.
Rain falling into a valley makes it fertile and fruitful, so God’s graces falling into a humble heart bears great fruit. The same rain, however, hitting the mountaintop turns to ice and snow, so grace given to persons puffed up with pride only hardens their hearts, as was the heart of Pharaoh in Egypt.

The litmus test of pride is our reaction to correction and to criticism. When a humble person is corrected, he grieves over his fault; he does not excuse himself even when the charge is untrue. The one exception is to prevent scandal; then he speaks out. The proud person grieves, not over his fault, but in his having been detected; he denies the fault and becomes angry at his accuser.
As for criticism, when it is leveled against one by word or letter, if it is true, the really humble person admits it, tries to rectify any damage done and is grateful for the advice. He learns from it—learns that man is weak and in need of God’s constant graces. If it is untrue, the humble person in charity tries to set the record straight. But he does this only once. If that does not work, he accepts the cross as Jesus did, full of joy to be judged worthy of ill-treatment for the sake of the Lord (Cp., Acts 5:41). His joy also stems from the fact that he knows a mild answer breaks wrath and wins the sinner (Prov. 15:1).

The proud person, on the contrary, will not even brook criticism, be it true or untrue. Hell hath no fury as a proud man scorned.

There are three cures for pride. One is to change your perspective. When climbing the mountain of holiness, you can look back at those below you and think how much higher you are than they are. Or you can look up beyond the mountaintop to God and see His holiness and realize how unholy you really are. A glimpse of God made Isaiah realizes how unclean he was (6:5f). A glimmer of Who Jesus truly was caused Peter to cry out, “Leave me, Lord. I am a sinful man” (Lk. 5:8). In the Light we shall see the light,
A second remedy for pride is affliction. “In order that I might not become conceited,” wrote St. Paul, “I was given a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan to beat me and keep me from getting proud” (2 Cor, 12:7). Whatever that thorn was we do not exactly know; but we know it was an affliction of some kind. A blessing in disguise.
We can well imagine how Satan must have tempted Paul to pride. Never was a preacher so successful, Never was a man so loved—the churches received him “as an angel from Heaven.” Few saints enjoyed his visions and revelations.
Lest his gifts puff him up with pride, he was given a thorn in the flesh. A blessing in disguise. It made him pray: “Three times I begged the Lord that this might leave me.” God’s answer was, “My grace is enough for you, for in weakness power reaches perfection.” Affliction is the antidote for the temptation to the pride that can vitiate perfection. So Paul ended up boasting of his weakness and confessing, “I am content with weakness, with mistreatment, with distress, with persecutions, and difficulties for the sake of Christ; for when I am powerless, it is then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).

The third cure for pride is to cultivate the virtue of humility. Faith is the road to God, but humility is the roadbed. Basic as it is, yet it is often spurned by Americans. In Camelot Modred sings of the seven deadly sins. Of humility he says:

“I find Humility means to be hurt;
It’s not the earth the meek inherit, it’s the dirt.”

Actually, humility comes from the Latin word humus meaning ground. But it does not mean groveling in the dirt. Humility means to have one’s feet on the ground. A humble hut is one close to the ground. A humble person is one who has his feet on the ground, for he lives by truth and acts on it.
Humility is not a horizontal virtue: looking at me and my neighbor. Humility is not thinking my neighbor is better than I. That could be sheer nonsense. You may be ten thousand times better than your neighbor. Our Lady said that all generations would call her blessed. That was the truth. And she was the most humble of persons.

Humility is not putting self down; thinking I am just nobody. That is not true. You are somebody, as are we all, because we are purchased with the precious blood of the Lamb of God. Our Lady said that God had done great things for her. That was the truth.
Rather, humility is a vertical virtue: it looks at me in relation to God! Who am I? Nothing! Who is God?
Everything! What have I? Nothing which I have not received from Him. That is the truth.
But knowing that is not necessarily humility.
Knowledge is not virtue. If it were, all Ph.D’s would be

saints. Virtue resides, not in the head, but in the heart; not in words, but in deeds. False humility is in words only. Alan Paton in his book Instrument of Thy Peace tells of a rabbi, a cantor, and a janitor who was preparing the synagogue for the Day of Atonement. The rabbi in the front of the synagogue beat his breast and said, “I am nothing, Lord. I am nothing.” The cantor, next to him, also beat his breast and said, “I am nothing Lord. I am nothing.” The janitor in the back of the synagogue beat his breast and said, “I am nothing, Lord. I am nothing. The rabbi nudged the cantor and said, “Look who thinks he’s nothing.” Humility of the tongue.
Humility is truth; but that is only the half of it. The other half is to admit it. The virtue lies in acting according to the truth, giving God His due.
Mary said to the angel Gabriel that she was the handmaid of the Lord. That was the truth. But knowing that did not make her humble. Her humility shone out when she said, “Be it done to me according to your word.” In a word, when she acted like the handmaid of the Lord and surrendered to His will.
When the Son of God emptied Himself and took the form of a slave, that was not His humility. The Incarnation was an act of love, not of humility. Jesus was humble when— having become a servant—He acted like one and became obedient to His Father unto death, even to death on a cross.

So, humility is truth and justice: knowing who we are in relation to God and then acting on that knowledge. Who is God? All that is. Who am I? All that is not. That is the truth.
The humble person not only knows this, but admits it by obeying God’s will no matter the cost. That is why every sin has something of pride in it: it says we can be independent of God. And that is a lie.

True humility is not to think low of oneself, but to think correctly and truthfully of oneself. Even the pagan Greeks knew the value of true self-knowledge. Over their temple at Delphi were inscribed the words: Know Thyself! How right old Polonius was in his advice to his son, Laertes,

“To thine own self be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Once Samuel F. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph, was asked by Rev. George W. Hervey if he had ever come to a stand, not knowing what next to do.
Morse replied, “Oh, yes, more than once.” “And at such times what did you do next?”
“Sir,” said Morse, “I tell you this in confidence, I prayed for more light.”
“And did it come?” asked Hervey.
“Yes, and when I am honored, I feel I don’t deserve it. I was able to advance science so much, not because I was superior to other men, but solely because God, who meant it for mankind, must reveal it to me.”
Thus Morse’s first message on the telegraph was, “See, what God hath wrought.” That is true humility.
In 1808, just a year before the death of Franz Joseph Haydn, a grand performance of his outstanding oratorio The Creation took place in Vienna. The composer himself was there for the occasion. Old and feeble, he was brought into the great hall in a wheelchair. His presence caused an electrifying enthusiasm in the audience. As the orchestra and chorus burst forth with full power into the passage, “And there was light,” a crescendo of applause broke out.

Moved by this response, Haydn struggled to his feet.
Summoning all his strength, he raised his trembling arms upward crying, “No, No! Not from me, but from thence—from Heaven above comes all!”
Haydn echoed the Psalmist who sang, “Not to us, 0 Lord, not to us but to your name give glory” (Ps. 115:1). That is always the posture of truly great men—humility.
“Love, indeed, is not inflated.”

  1. Love Is Not Rude (1 Cor. 13:5)

“Rudeness,” wrote Eric Hoffer, a San Francisco longshoreman/philosopher, “is the weak person’s imitation of strength.” The rude person believes that the best defense is to be offensive. The rude person believes, according to the gospel of Leo Duroucher, former baseball manager, that “nice guys finish last.” The rude person does not treat a person as a person, but as a means to his own
ends. Rudeness is downright cruelty.

Art Buchwald said rudeness is a good economic indicator. When clerks, hotel reservation people and headwaiters are most courteous and nice and polite, then the economy is bad. The nicer they are the more trouble the country is in. However, when hotel people get snippety and clerks in stores do not give a hoot about the customers, and the head waiter becomes patronizing, then the economy is on the upswing. In a word, rudeness is a sign that some people do not care about other people. They use them and treat them as commodities.

Rudeness can spring from insecurity or weakness, from sheer selfishness or self-centeredness, from lack of training in home or in school.
The barbarians who inundated the Roman Empire in the Dark Ages brought rudeness along with them. But the monks went out to meet the barbarian and forged the Christian civilization of medieval Europe. From this fusion of the barbarian and Christianity, chivalry was born, with its courtliness and courtesy, consideration and thoughtfulness for others, especially for the weak and the helpless.
The roots for this lay in the gospel. Jesus was the soul of gentleness and kindness. When the thoughtless crowd tried to silence the blind beggar Bartimaeus, Jesus would have none of it. He ordered the blind beggar brought to Him and He cured the man (Mk. 10:42-56). After He had raised Jairus’ 12-year-old daughter from the dead, the little girl was forgotten in the pandemonium that resulted from the miracle. It was Jesus Who said, “Give her something to eat” (Mk. 5:43). He asked us to welcome little children as we would welcome Him (Mk. 9:37). A cup of cold water given in His name, He promised to reward (Mk. 9:41). What we do to the least, He said would be accounted as done to Himself (Matt. 25:40).

Add the letter “d” to kin and you get kind. That is how the word originated. To treat someone kindly is to treat him as kin. Kindness flows from kinship. Jesus identified all with Himself. He said we had a common Father; He gave us a common mother. Because we all are kin, kindness to each other ought to follow as the day the night.
St. Paul on the road to Damascus discovered that in persecuting Christians he was actually persecuting Christ. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Sir?” he asked. The voice answered, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting” (Acts 9:4-5). That is why Paul appealed

again and again to Christians to be nice to one another: we all are kin! To the Romans, he wrote, “Love one another with the affection of brothers, anticipate each other in showing respect … be generous in offering hospitality. .. live peaceably with everyone” (Rom. 12:9-18).

When Paul told the Corinthians that “love is not rude,” he no doubt had in mind the chaos created in their Christian assemblies because of rudeness. Chapter 14 deals with those who were inconsiderate and clamorous in meetings, who violated good manners and ignored other people’s desires and feelings just to get their own ends. Parliamentary Law is courtesy toward others in a meeting. But in Corinth, parliamentary lawlessness prevailed (1 Cor. 14:26-40). Hence Paul’s “Love is not rude,”
In her message to the world, given each month at Medjugorje since January 25, 1987, one cannot help but be touched by the courtesy and tenderness of Our Lady. Always she begins her message with “Dear children.” Then she humbly invites them to a course of action with the words “I invite you”-
–no hardsell, no browbeating—just an invitation. Then always she concludes with “Thank you for responding to my call.”

Christian courtesy differs from kingly courtesy.
Titles of courtesy—like Sir, Madame, Lord, Lady, etc—grew out of titles of court (just as the word courtesy itself grew out of the word court). Respect and reverence were demanded by the highborn as a right. People were nice to their “betters,” because they had to be. Not infrequently, beneath the show of courtesy, rancor smoldered in the heart. So kingly courtesy could be all show and nothing more. Thus the saying: “All that glitters in not gold.”

Christian courtesy, on the other hand, is made of sterner stuff. The true Christian is nice, polite, urbane, not because he has to be, nor because he seeks advancement. That is the despicable tool of the toady, the sycophant, the flatterer. Sam Rayburn used to say about politics, if you want to get along, go along. Not so for Christian courtesy.
The courteous Christian realizes the dignity of the human person. He sees all mankind as purchased by the imperishable blood of the Lamb of God. He sees each person as a child of God with an eternal destiny.
Therefore, he respects each person, takes him seriously as he is and where he is; seeks not to blame nor necessarily to praise; is open, receptive, trusting; simply treats each person as a person, as a child of God.

One day a maid was combing the hair of the daughter of King Louis XV. She hit a snarl, and the young princess pulled away her head and snapped, “Remember, I am the daughter of your king.” The little maid answered, “Oui, Madamoiselle, but remember that I am the daughter of your God.”

Of course, being nice is not always easy. It is not an automatic fringe benefit that comes from religion; otherwise, why did Jesus and St. Paul have to stress it so much? Being nice, kind, courteous, polite, good natured—call it what you will—is a cultivated virtue.
It is one of the basics of love. “Love is kind,” and “It is not rude.” But it comes hard and after much effort. The sparks of courtesy need constant fanning.

Norman Vincent Peale tells the story of his mother. “Whenever we went out to visit our friends, mother would say, “Now be sure to mind your manners.”‘ One day his father, a

minister, protested that she seemed to place manners on a par with morals, “No,” his mother serenely replied, ”but your morals aren’t always showing and your manners are.”

The late Groucho Marx made a career of witty insults and barbed humor. For instance, on his television program “You Bet Your Life,” he said to a girl contestant who was no beauty, “I never forget a face, but in your case I’m willing to make an exception.”
At 80, Groucho confessed that he wished he had been a bit kinder to people. He admitted it would have been kinder to say to a girl whose looks would stop a clock, ”My dear, when I look at you, time stands still.” Then he recalled the words of Lincoln: ”Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves.”
To mind your manners is a cultivated virtue. It is the mark of the gentleman, of good-breeding, the mark of urbanity, refinement; it is the mark of being Christian. However, there seems to be a shifting today from the “gentle” man to the “macho” man. Wrongly, modern man feels tenderness and toughness cannot go together. Toughness is not necessarily strength, nor is yielding weakness. St Francis de Sales said that ”nothing is so strong as gentleness; and nothing so gentle as real strength.”
Well might we pray the little child’s prayer: “Dear God, please make all the bad people good, and all the good people nice.”

Besides the Ten Commandments of Moses, try these Ten Commandments of Human Relations:

  1. Speak to people. There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word of greeting.
  2. Smile at people. It takes 72 muscles to frown; 14 to smile.
  3. Call people by name. The sweetest music is the sound of one’s own name.
  4. Be friendly and helpful.
  5. Be cordial. Speak and act as if everything you do is a genuine pleasure.
  6. Be genuinely interested in people. You can like everybody if you try.
  7. Be generous with praise; be cautious with criticism.
  8. Be considerate of the feelings of others. They will appreciate it.
  9. Be thoughtful of the opinions of others. There are three sides to every controversy: your side, the other fellow’s side, and the right side.
  10. Be alert to give service. What counts most in life is what we do for others for Our Lord’s sake.

“Love is not rude.” “Love is kind!”

  1. Love Is Not Self-Seeking (1 Cor. 13:5).

A few years ago, I saw a movie—so long ago, I cannot even remember the name of it. But one scene always stuck in my mind. The movie was about West Point. One cadet was having a hard time of it in his first year at the Academy. He just could not keep out of trouble always violating some rule or regulation. He was headstrong and wanted his own way. After one more breach of discipline, the commandant summoned the cadet. Dressing him down, the commandant said, “You think you are tough. Well, in the next room I have a chap. I don’t think you can whip him; but, if you can, you can stay here at

the Point.” With fierce determination, the cadet strode to the door and tore it open. Behind the door was a full length mirror.

So often, there’s the enemy: the ego, me, myself, and I. A great evangelist, Dwight Moody, said, “I’ve had more trouble with myself than with any other person I know.” Jesus said that to be His disciple, you have to whip self (Matt. 16:24). St. Paul put it this way: “Love is not self-seeking.” Some people live in a small country bounded on the north, south, east and west by themselves. If self becomes the entire picture in our lives, then no room remains either for God or for man.

The self-seeker seeks two things.
First, he seeks his own will. St. James says that conflicts and disputes originate with our inner cravings: “…you desire.. .you envy. . .you ask wrongly” (Jas. 4.13)—and the result is you have no peace. The self-seeker wants what he wants—the Magisterium of the Church to the contrary notwithstanding. The self-seeker may want to serve God, but his way, not God’s. The self-seeker prays that his own will be done, not God’s will. That always spells trouble.

Secondly, the self-seeker pursues the adulation, praise, and approbation of others. Should he be criticized, he is quick to defend himself. Should he do good, he is eager to broadcast it. His chief concern is what others think about him. A satirist had the self-seeker in mind when he wrote: “Few people think! And when they do, they generally aren’t thinking of you.” How different with the saint. The saint feels unworthy to be thought of as a saint and desires only God to see his good works.

Of course, God does not require us to reject or throw away our sense of self for no reason whatsoever. Nothing is ever gained by purposeless sacrifice. The grain of wheat dies—but to produce a harvest. So one dies to
self for the sake of Christ to be raised up to a new life— the unselfish life of love.

Not to die to self is to die! The man who said, “If I don’t look out for number one, who will?” had this epitaph written on his tombstone:

Here lies a fellow who lived for himself
And cared for nothing but gathering pelf, Now, where he is or how he fares,
Nobody knows and nobody cares.

Some self-seekers live only for things. How foolish! Qoheleth wrote: “Nothing that my eyes desired did I deny them, nor did I deprive myself of any joy, but my heart rejoiced in the fruit of my toil … behold! all was vanity and a chase after wind”—all as futile as trying to corral the wind (Eccles. 2:10-11).
Some self-seekers canvas for high office and honors.
How vain! When Cardinal Wolsley fell from high office, he said to his protégé,

“Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition.
By that sin fell the angels; how can man, then,… hope to win by it?. ..
0 Cromwell, Cromwell!
Had I but served my God with half the zeal?
I served my king, he would not in mine age Have left me naked to mine enemies.”
(Henry VIII, Act 3, Sc. 2)

On the contrary, how much more human, more rational to reach out to others! One’s heart cannot but be touched by this story of Mrs. Appleton of Boston. She was the daughter of Daniel Webster. She was dying after a long illness. Her father, the great lawyer, after pleading an important case, stopped on his way home to see his daughter. When he entered the sick room, she said to him, “Father, why are you out today in this cold weather without an overcoat?” Webster went into the next room and sobbed saying, “Dying herself, yet thinking only of me.” How beautiful to care for others than everlastingly be thinking of ourselves!
We are all called to greatness. Our reach should be beyond ourselves, else what is Heaven for? Self is too small and too unworthy a goal for man’s quest.
When Jesus came to earth, He emptied Himself and took the form of a servant—the very opposite of self-seeking (Phil. 2:7). All His earthly life, He did the will of Another. He had no servants Himself, for He came as a working man. He said, “I am the Good Shepherd,” for His sole concern was for the
sheep—for others.

It took a long time for the disciples to learn this lesson. Twice they evinced the spirit of self-seeking that lurks in all of us. Once James and John asked for top spots in His kingdom. The other ten became indignant—they too wanted the first places. Our blessed Lord said, “It cannot be like this with you. If you want to rank first, serve the needs of all. The Son of
Man has not come to be served but to serve” (Cp., Matt. 20:20- 28).
Still, they did not get the point. The same self-seeking spirit surfaced again at one of the most solemn moments in Our Lord’s life, at the Last Supper. When it came to reclining at table for the supper, all fought for the first places. This time,

Jesus reprimanded them not only by words, but also by a servant action: He washed their feet (Cp., Lk. 22:24-30)! At last they understood. Thus on Easter Day, John deferred to Peter at the Lord’s tomb.

Nature herself preaches against self-seeking. For all nature gives to others. Clouds bring water to the thirsting earth; they do it joyfully, skipping across the skies like wooly lambs. Birds, too, cheerfully sing for all who will hear. Flowers radiate their beauty for all who will look; trees, their loveliness. All creatures, great and small, God made to serve man. And man—whom does he serve? Sadly, Paul wrote: “Everyone is busy seeking his own interests” (Phil. 2:21).

There are two signs to tell whether or not we are self- seeking in the wrong way.
The first has to do with God. Is God foremost in our thoughts; that is, do we try to avoid what is displeasing to God, and do we accept without complaint all that God sends us?
What displeases God is sin. In the middle of the word sin is “I”. Sin is simply too much of the me. It is self- love gone out of order—preferring self to God.

At Medjugorje Our Lady gave a wonderful tip on how to avoid sin. She said be on guard against your thoughts. Never let an unkind thought or a rash judgment lodge even momentarily in your mind. For such a thought is the edge of the wedge by which the devil can enter your heart and fill it with self and hate. Therefore eschew bad thoughts—they can harm!
As for what God permits; He permits trials. Why? Precisely to purge us of excessive self-love. St. Catherine of Genoa said: “To arrive at union with God, the problems God sends are absolutely necessary.” In fact they are

indispensable—no cross, no crown. The reason is that problems shift the focus from self to the problems. They initiate a struggle. The greater the struggle to accept them without complaint, the more we die to self. How right Shakespeare was when he wrote: ”Sweet are the uses of adversity.”

The second sign that tells whether or not we are self- seeking has to do with us ourselves. Do we give free rein to our desires and wants? Do we let them run wild like an unbridled colt? Or do we discipline them, tame them, practice mortification? Our Lady at Medjugorje asked us to fast twice a week—on Wednesdays and Fridays. Do we? The canonical fast—one full meal, cut down on the other two so that
together they do not equal the full meal, and nothing between-
–would be a good start.
However, mortification means more than fasting from food. Real mortification means dealing death to unruly passions by putting a check on our five senses.
Death, for instance, entered the world through the eyes.
Do you guard your eyes, curb what you look at? Death still enters souls through pornography, R-movies, and indiscriminate television watching.
Then there is your tongue. It is a small organ; but, like the rudder of a ship, it steers our lives. Most friction in our daily life stems from our words—not so much from what we say as how we say it. Your words convey your thoughts, but the tone of your voice conveys your moods.
Finally, there is your heart. Where is it fixed? On things or on Heaven? To earn, to save, to provide—all make good sense, until we let these things possess us. Poison in a bottle is harmless, but do not let it get into the bloodstream. So possessions are all right if you do not

let them possess you. Thus Christ blessed the poor in spirit; not the economically poor, but those detached in heart from material things.
John of the Cross says a bird cannot fly if one of its legs is fastened to the earth by a cord. It does not matter how slender or thick the cord is; if it is not broken, the bird cannot fly. Similarly, any excessive attachment, big or small, to things can keep you from total union with God unless it is broken.
The Psalmist prayed, “A pure heart create for me, 0 God; put a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:12), In light of that Scripture verse, St. Thomas defined holiness by two words: munditia (“a pure heart”) and firmitas (”a steadfast spirit.”) Holiness is detachment from creatures—a pure heart; and a firm attachment to God—a steadfast spirit.
Holiness results when we seek God; problems result when we seek self!

  1. Love Is Not Quick-Tempered (1 Cor. 13:5)

Here, Paul is talking not so much about anger, as the irascible disposition that erupts into anger, namely, the quick temper. The quick-tempered person is one who is easily provoked to anger—one who has a low tolerance point, a short fuse. The quick-tempered person can be testy, flaring up at the least annoyance; or touchy, reacting vehemently whenever a certain subject is broached.
Sometimes, the quick-tempered person can be absolutely irrational: flying into a rage or fury.
When Henry II of England saw the city of his birth in flames and himself forced to flee from his enemies, he burst out in wrath: “The city I have loved best on earth, the city where I was born and bred, . . . this, 0 God, to the increase of my shame, Thou hast reft from me. I will requite as best I can.

I will assuredly rob Thee of the thing Thou prizest most in me, my soul.” What frightful blasphemy! What mad self-damnation! And the cause? His quick temper.
The quick temper expresses itself in anger. St. Thomas defined anger, the fruit of a quick temper, as “the vehement desire to strike back.” As such, anger need not be all bad. It can be a splendid thing, as when it strikes back to defend a loved one. When Audie Murphy in World War II wiped out a nest of Japanese machine-gunners and was given the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery, he said, “I was not brave. I was just mad. When I saw all my buddies getting shot up around me, I got angry and anger helped me to do what I did.”
Our passions are God-given. Some of them, like anger, are emergency passions; that is, vehement movements empowering us to meet and overcome difficult situations.
Thus Charles and Mary Lamb in their poem “Anger”

Anger in its time and place
May assume a kind of grace It must have reason in it,
And not last beyond a minute.

Christ’s expulsion of the money-changers from the Temple in anger had reason in it, was divine zeal. A mother’s anger in spanking her naughty child, in order to correct, should not last beyond a minute and should have love in it. That is what Paul meant when he wrote: “Be angry but do not sin” (Eph. 4:26).
However, there is another anger, which does not strike back to defend what is loved, but strikes back to hurt what is hated. The red anger that flushes the face and fires

the eyes. The white anger that blanches the countenance and drives the blood deep down. The anger that strikes back to give punch for punch and bump for bump, eye for eye and lie for lie. The anger that lasts more than a minute: that has no reason in it. Such anger is as ugly as sin.
Uncontrolled anger can lead to a host of other sins. For instance, if one nurses anger or lets the sun set on it, contrary to the wise admonition of Paul (Eph. 4:26), it can sour into hate and revenge. In Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” Montresor is so angered because of “the thousand injuries” Fortunato had heaped upon him that he buries his enemy alive.
Few things are as foolish as anger and the quick temper that spawns it. Hasty temper, impatient rebukes, sullen looks, harsh words—never do any good! One hasty word, spoken under provocation, deprived Moses from entering the Promised Land (Num. 20:12). Will Rogers used to joke and say, “Who flies into a rage usually has a bad landing.” St. Francis de Sales said he always regretted later, having made a harsh correction. So he made a pact with his tongue never to speak while his heart was disturbed. It took him years to learn that the best answer to anger is silence. “The quick-tempered man makes a fool of himself, but the prudent man is at peace” (Prov. 14:17).

Here was how Moses described God Himself: “The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity, continuing his kindness for a thousand generations and forgiving wickedness and crime and sin…'(Ex. 34:6-7).
And so, of all His virtues, Jesus asked us to emulate but two: His gentleness and His humility (Matt. 11:29). John the Baptizer pointed Jesus out as the “Lamb of God” (Jn. 1:29). When one of the Temple guards struck Jesus

a sharp blow on the face, Jesus simply said, “If I said anything wrong produce the evidence, but if I spoke the truth why hit me?” (Jn. 18:23). When He was being nailed to the cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk. 23:34). He began His public life with “Blest are the lowly; they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).

St. Francis de Sales, when at school, almost killed a student in a duel provoked by his quick temper. That sobered the saint and he spent 22 years trying to conquer his quick temper. He so succeeded that he was always serene and smiling. In a letter to a friend, he wrote: “Never put in yourself a passion, nor open the door to anger on any pretext whatsoever; . ..” Then he quoted St. Augustine: “It is better to deny entrance to just and reasonable anger than to admit to it, be it ever so little, because being once admitted, it is with difficulty driven out again. It enters a twig and in a moment becomes a branch” (Introduction to a Devout Life, Ch. 8).
Another saint who had a difficult time with his terrible temper was St. Jerome. His towering temper made him a difficult friend. Even when isolated in Bethlehem, he managed to provoke quarrels. When a monk died with whom he had been feuding, Jerome called him a ”dead scorpion,” and said he was glad he was dead,
When St. Augustine questioned Jerome’s translation of Galatians, he flew into a rage and attacked Augustine mercilessly. It was Augustine’s sanctity that effected a reconciliation—he ”ate crow.”
When Jerome lost his temper, he would spew out such a torrent of invective and verbal abuse that he was called “The Scourge of the Desert.”
Jerome’s temper problem caused him great sorrow. He knew he had it and did all he could to

correct it. But even as an old man, he realized he still had a long ways to go. So there is hope for us. Saints are not perfect. They are simply persons striving to become perfect. The difference between saints and sinners is—saints keep trying. Saints were not born on stained glass windows—they fought to get there. A saint is a sinner who keeps on trying!

There are seven rules that can help us govern bad temper. For some self-control will come harder than for others; but for none is it impossible.

i. Deny Your Self.

Do not be self-seeking or self-indulgent. “Love is not self-seeking.” Bad temper always seeks its own way. Wanting one’s own convenience, ease, comfort, and pleasure spawns distemper. Other people do not exist to satisfy your every whim.

ii. Be Calm, Cool and Collected.

Don’t expect people to be perfect—you’re not! Do not maximize the little failings you see in others nor magnify the disappointments caused by these failures. The end never justifies the meanness. “A mild answer calms wrath” (Prov.
15:1), just as bales of cotton render harmless the cannon balls shot into them.

iii. Sometimes Turn Tail and Run.

In her autobiography, the Little Flower of Jesus tells this incident.

“There’s one sister in the community who has the knack of rubbing me the wrong way at every turn; her mannerisms, her speech, her character, just strike me as unlovable. But then, she’s a holy religious; … So I determined to treat this sister as if she were the person I loved best in the world. Every time I met her, I used to pray for her, offering to God all her virtues… I felt certain that Jesus would like me to do that, because all artists like to hear their work praised, … But I didn’t confine myself to saying a lot of prayers for her, this sister who made life such a tug-of-war for me; I tried to do her every good turn I possibly could … I would put on my best smile for her, let her have her way in argument … and when the struggle was too much for me, I used to turn tail and run. . .
“In the last resort, my recipe for victory is to run away; I used to try this even in my noviciate, and I always found it worked. I have a strong feeling that it’s best not to engage in a battle when defeat is quite certain.”
A seventy-year-old man went to his doctor for his annual check-up. The doctor commended him on his fine physical fitness and asked what he did to keep so trim. The man answered, “Doctor, when my wife and I got married, we made a pact that whenever we got into a fight, I’d take a walk. Well, Doctor, I’ve lived a great outdoor life.”

iv. Keep Quiet.

Do not expect everyone to think, feel, or act as you do! No two persons are alike. True individuality is true personality. Therefore, avoid destructive criticism. In the Philippines they say, “Into the closed mouth the fly does not get.” It is a fact that habitual faultfinders and constant critics are generally bad-tempered people; and bad-tempered people are always in trouble.

v. Make Allowances.

Always give others the benefit of the doubt when you do not understand their conduct. It’s important to know whether something was done intentionally or not. To know all is to pardon all. No evil intended, no evil done.

vi. Count to 10 or to 100 if Necessary.

“When you get angry,” goes the old saying, “count ten.” That is good advice, for time and thought dissipate passion.
When Julius Caesar was provoked, he would repeat the entire Roman alphabet before he would speak. Seneca later endorsed this when he said: “The greatest remedy for anger is delay.”
James Boswell, the famous biographer of the great Dr.
Samuel Johnson, was insulted one day by an associate. He rushed to Johnson to complain. With a laugh, Johnson said, “Bosy, look at it this way: how insignificant this will appear twelve months hence.” And he was right. Time gives true perspective. A little delay puts away the desire to strike back caused by the vexations of daily life.

vii. Pray!

The final, and the best, remedy for anger is prayer.
When the apostles were caught in a storm at sea, they woke Our Lord and cried, “Teacher, does it not matter to you that we are going to drown?” He awoke and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” And everything grew calm (Mk. 35:41). Jesus alone can bring peace to the tempest-tossed soul. “I tell you all this
that in me you may find peace” (Jn. 16:33).

After Holy Communion, I like to pray this beautiful

Mother, upon my lips today
Christ’s precious blood was laid, That blood which centuries ago
Was for my ransom paid; And half in love and half in fear
I seek for aid from thee, Lest what I worship, rapt in awe,
Should be profaned by me.

Wilt thou vouchsafe as portress dear To guard these lips today
Lessen my words of idle mirth, And govern all I say;
Keep back the sharp and quick retorts That rise so easily,
Soften my speech with gentle art To sweetest charity.

O Mother! thou art mine today, By more than double right!
A soul where Christ reposed must be Most precious in thy sight;
And thou canst hardly think of me From thy dear Son apart,
So give me, from myself and sin, A refuge in thy heart.

  1. ..Neither Does Love Brood Over Injuries

The Greek word that Paul uses for “brood” is logizestai–
-an accountant’s word. It means to enter an item in a ledger lest it be forgotten. And that is exactly what some people do regarding injuries received. They note and record in memory each and every hurt to repay it in kind at a later date.

Paul clearly states that love is not at all like that: it does not brood over injuries. Emerson said the heart of Lincoln was so great that there was no room in it for the memory of a wrong.

Forgiveness is at the heart of Christianity, is it not? Jesus, the Word of God, came to earth to forgive our sins. He died saying, “Father, forgive them.” Before that, He taught in word and parable the necessity of our forgiving.

I remember as a lad hearing the parable of the unforgiving servant read once a year in the Sunday gospel. The story is well known. The master forgives the servant a debt of millions; yet this same servant refuses to forgive his fellow- servant the paltry debt of a few hundred dollars. I remember, too, the satisfaction I felt when the master turned over this unforgiving culprit to the torturers (Matt. 18:21-35). Then one year it hit me that I was the culprit. We sin against God. That is like contracting a million dollar debt. Yet in the confessional God forgives us for the asking. Whenever our neighbor injures us, that is like contracting a debt of a few hundred dollars, for we are creatures, finite, unlike the infinite God. God forgives us readily—what think you if we do not forgive our lesser debtors?

To make matters worse, Our Lord taught us to pray “Forgive us as we forgive.” He made His forgiveness of our faults contingent upon our forgiveness of others. “The measure you measure with will be measured back to you” (Lk. 6:38). Or as the Lord put it: “Blest are they who show mercy; mercy shall be theirs” (Matt. 5:7). Who cannot forgive others destroys the bridge over which he himself must pass.
So we must be forgiving persons. We cannot read the human heart—only God can. So God says, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay” (Rom, 12:17). Ben Jonson, England’s first poet laureate, wrote: “God defers His judgment till Judgment Day. Let us do likewise.”
Thus Paul told his Ephesians. “Get rid of all bitterness, all passion and anger, harsh words, slander, and malice of every kind. In place of these, be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving, just as God has forgiven you in Christ” (4:31-32).

To forgive means simply to restore broken relationships. Injuries alienate, forgiveness reconciles–
-makes as one.

The classic example of forgiveness in the Old Testament is the Joseph story. How shamefully he had been treated by his half-brothers! Sold as a slave, he became the powerful prime minister of Egypt. When the tables were reversed, and Joseph had his brothers at his mercy, instead of revenging himself, he forgave them totally from his heart. And why did he do this?
Because he saw the hand of God at work in the entire situation (Gen. 50:20). They meant evil, but God permitted it to draw from it a greater good.

Is it not so with us? To those who love God all things work together unto good—even the injuries inflicted on us by others. Often we cannot see the hidden agenda until much later in hindsight. That is why the Portugese have a saying: “God writes straight in crooked lines.”

To forgive, we must. Yet forgiveness is but half the story. The other half is to forget. Forgive and forget! When missionaries went to the Eskimos, they discovered that the Eskimos had no word for forgiveness, so the natives coined one—a very expressive compound word meaning “not-being- able-to-think-about-it-anymore.”’

We need Teflon-coated memories to which no hurt or injury can stick, memories that cannot remember wounds. Of Henry VI of England it was said, he never forgot anything but injuries. We want others to forget our horrible mistakes in life, don’t we? And yet, ought we not to be just as fair to others and forget their mistakes?
Of course this is not easy. To err is human, but to forgive and forget is divine. To practice forgetfulness we need the help of God. And His help comes to those who ask for it. In a word, we must pray for this gift of forgetfulness of injuries.
Then we must practice the art of forgetting. Athletes practice to acquire their skills. Practice, too, is needed to acquire the art of forgetting. We may fail frequently, but continued efforts will pay dividends. That is why Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you seven times a day, and seven times a day turns back to you saying, `I am sorry,’ forgive him” (Lk. 17:4).

There is a Hassidic tale of a man walking along the road carrying a heavy sack. Soon another man comes along driving a horse and wagon. The man in the wagon, seeing the other man toiling under his heavy load, offers him a ride. The man with the sack accepts and climbs aboard the wagon. A few minutes later the driver turns around to see if his passenger is comfortable, and he is startled to notice that the man is still standing in the wagon with the sack on his back. The astonished driver remarks: “The wagon is going to carry the sack anyway, why not put down your load and let the horse and wagon do the work?”
Is it not equally foolish to gunnysack hurts and carry them through life?

A lady in Boston once carried on a vendetta against her minister. She tried to get him removed. She was responsible for poison-pen letters, mysterious calls, cliques of opposition, open movements to oust the minister. Then she moved to the
American West. Away, she became repentant. So she wrote the preacher and asked for pardon.
The minister responded with a 3-word telegram: “Forgiven! Forgotten! Forever!”
To err is human, to forgive and forget is divine!

  1. Love Does Not Rejoice Over Wrongdoing But Rejoices With the Truth (1 Cor. 13:6)

There are people who rejoice over wrongdoing. Some, like pornographers, ridicule the virtues of modesty and chastity and glorify the vices of lust and immorality; or some, like those in organized crime, murder for money and glory in their crimes. Others, less evil, but nonetheless evil, are those who rejoice over the failures of others, who seem to relish, even gloat over, their shortcomings. There are still others who

quip, “If you can’t say anything good about him or her, let’s hear it.” These are the human vultures who seek only carrion and overlook the wondrous beauties of the landscape. There is no love, or little love in the hearts of such as these.

Then there are other people who rejoice with the truth. They take no delight in another’s misfortune or victimization. Rather, they rejoice in the triumph of good. As we, when kids, always wanted the good guys to win in the old Westerns, so the one who truly loves rejoices to see goodness triumph. Such a one says, “I will speak ill of no person, even when it is true. Rather, I will look beyond the faults of others, give them the benefit of the doubt, and whenever the occasion presents itself, speak all the good I know of everybody.”
Love rejoices with the truth for the simple reason that truth is reality. It gives the right answers to life and living. Our Lord Himself said truth is the way to life. Thus He placed truth at the center of His triad: ”I am the way, the truth and the life.” It was as if He were saying the way to life is truth and I am that truth: the way to life.
Therefore if we would have life, here and hereafter, we must follow the Way, Christ: His teachings, His truth. The one truth Jesus taught us above all others is that He did always the will of His Father. “Doing the will of him who sent me is
my food”(Jn. 4:34). “Not my will but yours be done” (Lk. 22:42).

Now some persons make holiness consist in following their own inclinations. If they happen to be melancholic, they make holiness consist in living in seclusion. If they are active persons, they make it consist in doing good works. Austere and severe persons see holiness in penances. The generous, in giving, and so on. All these things are good, yet these are only

external actions. Holiness consists, as it did for Jesus, in doing God’s will.
The key to holiness is God’s will. Remember what Our Lord said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?' Then I will declare to them solemnly,I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers!”’ (Matt. 27:21-23).
Imagine that! He will call these do-gooders “evildoers.” Why this response? Because these so- called disciples were doing their own will, what they wanted to do; they were not seeking God’s will, what He wanted them to do. They had served God their way, not His way.
Often self-will vitiates the most holy actions. In the day of judgment many will ask why they are not being rewarded. “Why do we fast, and you do not see it? Afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?” (Is. 58:3). God will answer, “Lo, on your fast days you carry out your own pursuits.” In other words, you have gotten your reward, for you did what you did to indulge yourselves.
Perfection, therefore, consists first in contempt of one’s self. Secondly, in mortification of one’s own appetites, in self-denial! And thirdly, in doing God’s will and not our own.
But how do we know God’s will? For religious, through obedience to their superiors. St. Francis de Sales said that “a truly obedient religious was never yet lost.”
For the laity, through obedience to the Church. St.
Ignatius said, “Sentire cum ecclesia”—“Think with the Church.” Ignatius asked for an almost military obedience: “Ours not reason why, ours but to do and die—a loving, trusting, even

blind obedience. That is how faith operates. Of course, we can have opinions; but we must not be opinionated. The keys were given to Peter alone and to his successors.
Since obedience can come hard and since it is not always easy to discover God’s will, it is imperative that we always pray for the grace to know that will and to follow it, St. Teresa of Avila always said this prayer:

Rule all by Your wisdom, Lord, so that I may always serve You according to Your will
and not as I may choose.
Do not punish me, I ask You,
by granting that which I wish or ask if it offends Your love.
Because I want Your love to live always in my soul.
Let me deny myself
so that I may serve You
Who in Yourself are the true life.

Today we see a terrible scandal in the Church: it is that of publicly dissenting from authoritative teaching. Pope John Paul II pinpointed this error in his trip to the United States: “It is sometimes reported that a large number of Catholics today do not adhere to the teaching of the Church on a number of questions, notably sexual and conjugal morality, divorce and remarriage. Some are reported as not accepting the Church’s clear position on abortion. It has also been noted that there is a tendency on the part of some Catholics to be selective in their adherence to the Church’s moral teachings. It is sometimes claimed that dissent from the magisterium is totally compatible with being ‘a good Catholic’ and poses no obstacle

to the reception of the sacraments. This is a grave error. . .” (9/16/87).
”Disent from Church doctrine remains what it is, dissent; as such it may not be proposed or received on an equal footing with the Church’s authentic teaching”(idem).

Love accepts no selectivism regarding the Church’s teachings, for love rejoices with the truth. And because it does, love cannot rejoice in error or wrong.

We must never forget that Paul speaks of love as rejoicing with the truth. “Love rejoices. ..” Joy is the beautiful face of love. If ever we are going to wean the wrongdoer from his wrongs, one of the most effective means will be the joyful countenance. If you take a plant out of the sunlight, it will droop and wither and die. So will the world if it be denied the joy that is the expression of love. Joy is to love what light is to the sun.
Joy was the characteristic of the early Church, so much so that St. Luke took note of it. “With exultant hearts,” he wrote, “they took their meals in common” (Acts 2:46).
We might say joy is the hallmark of the true lover of God and mankind. G.K. Chesterton seemed to frolic in the joy of being a Christian. He spoke of “the giant laughter of Christian men.” He wrote that “men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.” Even though skies are dark, still the Christian knows joy. “Though night be thrice night over you and Heaven an iron cope,” the Christian has joy, for he has a cause; and he has hope, for he has a faith. “Do you have joy without a cause, yea faith without a hope?”
On the contrary, Chesterton noted that the mark of paganism is sadness. “Their joy is all sadness; their mirth is all vain. Their laughter is madness; their pleasure is pain.” For paganism does not have the truth; therefore can give no

purpose to life. And purposeless living begets ennui, boredom, and hopelessness.

Leander was a youth of Abydos, a town on the Asian side of the Dardanelles, the strait that separates Asia and Europe and empties the Sea of Marmora into the Aegean Sea. On the shore opposite Abydos is the town of Sestos, where lived the maiden Hero, whom Leander loved. Each night Leander swam the mile-wide strait to be with Hero. On the European shore she would wait with lighted torch to guide her lover. His only way for knowing he was on the right course was the torch she held. While the torch threw its light, Leander knew that Hero was there awaiting him; and this bore him through the waves.
Similarly, on the sea of life many a strong swimmer is buffeted by the billows of the world’s temptation. Each wants not only our love, but also our light; not only our compassion, but also our joy. The love of Hero was not enough for Leander to cross the Hellespont, he needed, besides her love, the guiding light of her torch. So, besides Christian love, joy is needed to draw the wrongdoer from rejoicing in the wrong.

In London one can tell if the Queen is at home in Buckingham Palace by the flag flying from the tower. Likewise joy is the flag flown from the castle of the heart telling the world that the “king,” the Spirit of God, is in residence there, And that spirit is caught quicker than taught by the joy radiating from one who loves the truth and rejoices in it.

  1. Love Bears All Things,
    Believes All Things, Hopes All Things,
    Endures All Things (Cor 13:7)

Paul’s masterful description of love in 1 Cor. 13:4-7 is divided into three parts.
In the first part, he describes what love is. It is patient.
It is kind.
In the second part, he lists what love is not. It is (1) not jealous. It is (2) not pompous, (3) nor inflated, (4) nor rude, (5) nor self-seeking, (6) nor quick-tempered. It does (7) not brood over injuries, (8) nor rejoice over wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
In the third part, Paul describes what is the permanent attitude of love, what it does all the time. The Greek word panta is translated as a noun “all things” and as the object of the verbs bears, believes, hopes and endures. I think panta is better translated as an adverb “continually,” “all the time.”

Love makes a hollow square. It conquers the enemies of love on all four sides, “all the time.” “There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure.”


The Greek word (stegei) might be translated as “covers” instead of “bears.” In the presence of the faults of others, love puts her finger to her lips. When a hurtful particle lodges on the shell of an oyster, and it cannot eject it, the oyster covers the intruder with a precious substance extracted from its very life and turns the intruder into a beautiful pearl. A

pearl is the crystallized tear of an oyster. Error hates truth; selfishness hates love; but love always puts a kind construction even on hate.
Why does love do this? Because we are called “to be conformed to the image” of the Son of God (Rom. 8:29). “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His footsteps” (1 Ptr. 2:21). “He was spurned
… a man of suffering. . . though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter. . . he was silent” (Is. 53:3, 7). And when He did open His mouth, it was to excuse those who had crucified Him: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Lk.
True love puts up with a lot from people, just as God does. It bears hurts in silence, conceals injuries as much as possible. True love tends to see good in everyone and feels that in the end good will triumph over evil. This trust springs from hope, a hope based on the promises of God. “Those who hope in the Lord shall never be put to shame.”

I think it was Rollo May who said that if we wish to change a person, we must accept him as he is and if we wish to change ourselves we must accept ourselves as we are. God does that, doesn’t He? So must we.
Therefore, St. James says, “Do not, my brothers, speak ill of one another” (Jas. 4:11). James condemns faultfinding. A censorious attitude means one is paying too much attention to the conduct of others. But worse, it can mean paying too much attention, not in order to help, but in order to criticize. This lumps one in with the devil, for it is written of him that he is “the accuser of our brothers” (Rev. 12:10).


Love believes in people all the time. People are always asking us to believe in them, to trust them. “Trust me,” says the politician, the salesman, the promoter. Once I used to do my banking in a Trust Company. I did not know whether I was supposed to trust them or they were supposed to trust me. No matter, trust is vital not only to business, but also to life itself.

A house caught fire one night. The parents and children ran outside. A 5-year-old, however, eluded the parents and was trapped on the second story. The father saw the child in the window surrounded by smoke. He yelled, “Jump, I’ll catch you!” But the child cried out, “Daddy, I can’t see you.” The father answered, “That’s all right, I can see you. Jump!”

So love trusts in people even though it cannot see the results. It believes in them, because it sees the overarching goodness of God Who can bring good out of evil and that, despite appearances, His purpose will be accomplished.
Such belief in people brings out the best in them. Fr.
Flannigan, the founder of Boystown, always said, “There is no such thing as a bad boy.” Don Bosco believed you could prevent a boy from becoming bad by loving him. Both of them worked wonders for the youth of America and Italy. When Gov. Al Smith was looking for a warden to bring order to Sing Sing Prison, he picked Lawes. When Lawes got the summons to the Governor’s office, Lawes said he was going to turn down the almost impossible task until Smith said to him, “Lawes, I picked you, because I believe in you. I know you are the man who can do the job.” Lawes said that that vote of confidence in him did

the trick. He went to Sing Sing to become one of its finest wardens.
John Ruskin lamented: ‘`If my parents would only love me less and trust me more.”
Trust is believing in another.


Love hopes even for the impossible for others, because the lover knows nothing is impossible for the Lord. Love hopes, therefore, first in the Lord. “They that hope in the Lord shall renew their strength like the eagle… shall run… shall walk and not faint” (Is. 40:31). “Cursed is the man that trusteth man” (Jer. 18:5).

To Cromwell Cardinal Wolsley, when stripped of all office by Henry VIII, complained: “Had I but served my God with half the zeal I had served my king, he would not now in my old age have left me naked to my enemies.” Wolsley had forgotten the words of the Psalmist: “Put not your trust in princes” (Ps.
Hope in the Lord begets hope for others. Love does not give up on people, or give in to evil no matter how great, just as Jesus never gave up on people. This demands constant and ardent prayer. We can do nothing without God; but with God, there is nothing we cannot do or hope for.
The family hopes and prays that the alcoholic or the drug addict will be cured; the wife beaten or the child abused hopes and prays that the most hardened sinner will eventually turn to the Lord. Like the Good Samaritan, love sees life and hope even in one half-dead. Love believes, in the words of Cervantes, “Where there is life, there is hope.”


The Greek verb Paul uses here for “endure” is huypomenein, which means not just to bear with people on occasion, once in a while, but to put up with people always, even to the very end of their lives, despite all their aberrations and vagaries. Just as a good mother never gives up on her wayward child, so love is steadfast, it holds on in moments and days and even years—confident that somehow, someway, in God’s good time all will be well in the end.
Thus when love has no evidence to the contrary, it bears with people; believes the best about them; hopes for the best for them; and courageously endures, waits—never gives up on them. Come what may, love is undismayed: love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things— all the time!

Love, as Paul has portrayed it in 1 Cor. 13:4-7, has been exemplified, realized, and incarnated in the life of Jesus.
In Jesus, love walked the earth. For in Him patience and kindness met. Never was He jealous, pompous, inflated, rude. Never did He seek His own interests. Never was He quick- tempered, nor one to brood over injuries. He rejoiced not over wrongdoing, but with the truth. He bore every sling and arrow aimed at Himself. He believed in people always, hoped for them continually and endured all their shortcomings, confident that to those who love God all things would work together unto good in the end.
His invitation still stands: “Come, follow me. Walk in love!”

About the Author

Reverend Albert J. M. Shamon was ordained for the Diocese of Rochester in 1940. He has served as pastor, teacher, columnist, author and radio broadcaster. He recently celebrated his 50th anniversary to the priesthood by celebrating Mass with His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, in his private chapel in Rome.

After several trips to Medjugorje, Yugoslavia, Father Shamon felt a calling to write a series of small booklets detailing the important messages that Our Lady has been telling the children there. This book, Our Lady Says: Love People is the most recent of this series.

The other books by Father Shamon are:

Our Lady Teaches About Prayer at Medjugorje Our Lady Says: Let Holy Mass Be Your Life
Our Lady Says: Monthly Confession—Remedy for the West
Our Lady Says: Pray The Creed The Power of the Rosary

Appendix 15

Coping with Grief and Loss
Understanding the Grieving Process and Learning to Heal and-loss.htm

Coping with the loss of someone or something you love is one of life’s biggest challenges. Often, the pain of loss can feel overwhelming. You may experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness. The pain of grief can also disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight. These are normal reactions to significant loss. But while there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that, in time, can ease your sadness and help you come to terms with your loss, find new meaning, and move on with your life.

What is grief?
Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. The more significant the loss, the more intense your grief will be. You may associate grieving with the death of a loved one—which is often the cause of the most intense type of grief—but any loss can cause grief, including:

  1. Divorce or relationship breakup
  2. Loss of health
  3. Losing a job
  4. Loss of financial stability
  5. A miscarriage
  6. Retirement
  7. Death of a pet
  8. Loss of a cherished dream
  9. A loved one’s serious illness
  10. Loss of a friendship
  11. Loss of safety after a trauma
  12. Selling the family home

Even subtle losses in life can trigger a sense of grief. For example, you might grieve after moving away from home, graduating from college, or changing jobs. Whatever your loss, it’s personal to you, so don’t feel ashamed about how you feel, or believe that it’s somehow only appropriate to grieve for certain things. If the person, animal, relationship, or situation was significant to you, it’s normal to grieve the loss you’re experiencing.

How to cope with grief

  1. Acknowledge your pain.
  2. Accept that grief can trigger many different and unexpected emotions.
  3. Understand that your grieving process will be unique to you.
  4. Seek out face-to-face support from people who care about you.
  5. Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically.
  6. Recognize the difference between grief and depression.

The grieving process
Grieving is a highly individual experience; there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and how significant the loss was to you.
Inevitably, the grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried—and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.

Myths and Facts about Grief
Myth: The pain will go away faster if you ignore it.
Fact: Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run.
For real healing, it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.
Myth: It’s important to “be strong” in the face of loss.
Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings can help them and you.
Myth: If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t sorry about the loss.
Fact: Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry may feel the pain just as

deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of showing it.
Myth: Grief should last about a year.
Fact: There is no specific time frame for grieving. How long it takes differs from person to person.
Myth: Moving on with your life means forgetting about your loss.
Fact: Moving on means you’ve accepted your loss—but that’s not the same as forgetting. You can move on with your life and keep the memory of someone or something you lost as an important part of you. In fact, as we move through life, these memories can become more and more integral to defining the people we are.

The stages of grief
In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what became known as the “five stages of grief.” These stages of grief were based on her studies of the feelings of patients facing terminal illness, but many people have generalized them to other types of negative life changes and losses, such as the death of a loved one or a break-up.

The five stages of grief

Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will
Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”
If you are experiencing any of these emotions following a loss, it may help to know that your reaction is natural and that you’ll heal in time. However, not everyone who grieves goes

through all of these stages—and that’s okay. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to go through each stage in order to heal. In fact, some people resolve their grief without going through any of these stages. And if you do go through these stages of grief, you probably won’t experience them in a neat, sequential order, so don’t worry about what you “should” be feeling or which stage you’re supposed to be in.
Kübler-Ross herself never intended for these stages to be a rigid framework that applies to everyone who mourns. In her last book before her death in 2004, she said of the five stages of grief: “They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives.”

Grief can be a roller coaster
Instead of a series of stages, we might also think of the grieving process as a roller coaster, full of ups and downs, highs and lows. Like many roller coasters, the ride tends to be rougher in the beginning, the lows may be deeper and longer. The difficult periods should become less intense and shorter as time goes by, but it takes time to work through a loss. Even years after a loss, especially at special events such as a family wedding or the birth of a child, we may still experience a strong sense of grief.
Source: Hospice Foundation of America
Symptoms of grief
While loss affects people in different ways, many of us experience the following symptoms when we’re grieving. Just remember that almost anything that you experience in

the early stages of grief is normal—including feeling like you’re going crazy, feeling like you’re in a bad dream, or questioning your religious or spiritual beliefs.
Emotional symptoms of grief Shock and disbelief – Right after a loss, it can be hard to
accept what happened. You may feel numb, have trouble believing that the loss really happened, or even deny the truth. If someone you love has died, you may keep expecting them to show up, even though you know they’re gone.
Sadness – Profound sadness is probably the most universally experienced symptom of grief. You may have feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or deep loneliness. You may also cry a lot or feel emotionally unstable.
Guilt – You may regret or feel guilty about things you did or didn’t say or do. You may also feel guilty about certain feelings (e.g. feeling relieved when the person died after a long, difficult illness). After a death, you may even feel guilty for not doing something to prevent the death, even if there was nothing more you could have done.
Anger – Even if the loss was nobody’s fault, you may feel angry and resentful. If you lost a loved one, you may be angry with yourself, God, the doctors, or even the person who died for abandoning you. You may feel the need to blame someone for the injustice that was done to you.
Fear – A significant loss can trigger a host of worries and fears. You may feel anxious, helpless, or insecure. You may even have panic attacks. The death of a

loved one can trigger fears about your own mortality, of facing life without that person, or the responsibilities you now face alone.

Physical symptoms of grief
We often think of grief as a strictly emotional process, but grief often involves physical problems, including:
Fatigue Nausea
Lowered immunity
Weight loss or weight gain Aches and pains

Seek support for grief and loss
The pain of grief can often cause you to want to withdraw from others and retreat into your shell. But having the face- to-face support of other people is vital to healing from loss. Even if you’re not comfortable talking about your feelings under normal circumstances, it’s important to express them when you’re grieving. While sharing your loss can make the burden of grief easier to carry, that doesn’t mean that every time you interact with friends and family, you need to talk about your loss. Comfort can also come from just being around others who care about you. The key is not to isolate yourself.
Finding support after a loss Turn to friends and family members – Now is the time to
lean on the people who care about you, even if you take pride in being strong and self-sufficient. Rather than avoiding them, draw friends and loved ones close, spend

time together face to face, and accept the assistance that’s offered. Often, people want to help but don’t know how, so tell them what you need—whether it’s a shoulder to cry on, help with funeral arrangements, or just someone to hang out with. If you don’t feel you have anyone you can regularly connect with in person, it’s never too late to build new friendships.
Draw comfort from your faith – If you follow a religious tradition, embrace the comfort its mourning rituals can provide. Spiritual activities that are meaningful to you—such as praying, meditating, or going to church—can offer solace. If you’re questioning your faith in the wake of the loss, talk to a clergy member or others in your religious community.
Join a support group – Grief can feel very lonely, even when you have loved ones around. Sharing your sorrow with others who have experienced similar losses can help. To find a bereavement support group in your area, contact local hospitals, hospices, funeral homes, and counseling centers, or see the Resources section below.
Talk to a therapist or grief counselor – If your grief feels like too much to bear, find a mental health professional with experience in grief counseling. An experienced therapist can help you work through intense emotions and overcome obstacles to your grieving.
Using social media for grief support
Memorial pages on Facebook and other social media sites have become popular ways to inform a wide audience of a loved one’s passing and to reach out for support. As well as allowing you to impart practical information, such as funeral plans, these pages allow friends and loved ones to post their own tributes or condolences. Reading such messages can often provide some comfort for those grieving the loss.

Of course, posting sensitive content on social media has its risks as well. Memorial pages are often open to anyone with a Facebook account. This may encourage people who hardly knew the deceased to post well-meaning but inappropriate comments or advice. Worse, memorial pages can also attract Internet trolls. There have been many well-publicized cases of strangers posting cruel or abusive messages on memorial pages.
To gain some protection, you can opt to create a closed group on Facebook rather than a public page, which means people have to be approved by a group member before they can access the memorial. It’s also important to remember that while social media can be a useful tool for reaching out to others, it can’t replace the face-to-face connection and support you need at this time.

Take care of yourself as you grieve
When you’re grieving, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. The stress of a major loss can quickly deplete your energy and emotional reserves.
Looking after your physical and emotional needs will help you get through this difficult time.
Face your feelings. You can try to suppress your grief, but you can’t avoid it forever. In order to heal, you have to acknowledge the pain. Trying to avoid feelings of sadness and loss only prolongs the grieving process. Unresolved grief can also lead to complications such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems.
Express your feelings in a tangible or creative way.
Write about your loss in a journal. If you’ve lost a loved one, write a letter saying the things you never got to say; make a scrapbook or photo album celebrating the

person’s life; or get involved in a cause or organization that was important to your loved one.
Look after your physical health. The mind and body are connected. When you feel healthy physically, you’ll be better able to cope emotionally. Combat stress and fatigue by getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising. Don’t use alcohol or drugs to numb the pain of grief or lift your mood artificially.
Try to maintain your hobbies and interests. There’s comfort in routine and getting back to the activities that bring you joy and connect you closer to others can help you come to terms with your loss and aid the grieving process.
Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. Your grief is your own,
and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to be angry, to yell at the heavens, to cry or not to cry.
It’s also okay to laugh, to find moments of joy, and to let go when you’re ready.
Plan ahead for grief “triggers.” Anniversaries, holidays, and milestones can reawaken memories and feelings. Be prepared for an emotional wallop, and know that it’s completely normal. If you’re sharing a holiday or lifecycle event with other relatives, talk to them ahead of time about their expectations and agree on strategies to honor the person you loved.

When grief doesn’t go away
As time passes following a significant loss, such as the death of a loved one, it’s normal for feelings of sadness, numbness, or anger to gradually ease. These and other difficult emotions become less intense as you begin to accept the loss and start to move forward with your life. However, if you aren’t feeling better over time, or your grief is getting worse, it may be a sign that your grief has developed into a more serious problem, such as complicated grief or major depression.

Complicated grief
The sadness of losing someone you love never goes away completely, but it shouldn’t remain center stage. If the pain of the loss is so constant and severe that it keeps you from resuming your life, you may be suffering from a condition known as complicated grief. Complicated grief is like being stuck in an intense state of mourning. You may have trouble accepting the death long after it has occurred or be so preoccupied with the person who died that it disrupts your daily routine and undermines your other relationships.

Symptoms of complicated grief include:
Intense longing and yearning for your deceased loved one
Intrusive thoughts or images of your loved one Denial of the death or sense of disbelief Imagining that your loved one is alive
Searching for your deceased loved one in familiar places
Avoiding things that remind you of your loved one Extreme anger or bitterness over your loss Feeling that life is empty or meaningless

The difference between grief and depression
Distinguishing between grief and clinical depression isn’t always easy as they share many symptoms, but there are ways to tell the difference. Remember, grief can be a roller coaster. It involves a wide variety of emotions and a mix of good and bad days. Even when you’re in the middle of the grieving process, you will still have moments of pleasure or happiness. With depression, on the other hand, the feelings of emptiness and despair are constant.

Other symptoms that suggest depression, not just grief, include:
• Intense, pervasive sense of guilt
• Thoughts of suicide or a preoccupation with dying
• Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
• Slow speech and body movements
• Inability to function at home, work, and/or school
• Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there

Can antidepressants help grief?
As a general rule, normal grief does not warrant the use of antidepressants. While medication may relieve some of the symptoms of grief, it cannot treat the cause, which is the loss itself. Furthermore, by numbing the pain that must be worked through eventually, antidepressants delay the mourning process.

When to seek professional help for grief
If you recognize any of the above symptoms of complicated grief or clinical depression, talk to a mental health
professional right away. Left untreated, complicated grief and depression can lead to significant emotional damage, life-

threatening health problems, and even suicide. But treatment can help you get better.

Contact a grief counselor or professional therapist if you:

  1. Feel like life isn’t worth living
  2. Wish you had died with your loved one
  3. Blame yourself for the loss or for failing to prevent it
  4. Feel numb and disconnected from others for more than a few weeks
  5. Are having difficulty trusting others since your loss
  6. Are unable to perform your normal daily activities

If you’re feeling suicidal…
Seek help immediately. Please read Suicide Help, talk to someone you trust, or call a suicide helpline:
In the U.S., call 1-800-273-TALK(8255).
In the UK, call 08457 90 90 90.
In Australia, call 13 11 14.
Or visit IASP to find a helpline in your country.

Resources and references
Life after Loss: Dealing with Grief – Guide to coping with
grief and loss, including normal grief reactions to expect. (University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center)
Death and Grief – Article for teens on how to cope with grief and loss. Includes tips for dealing with the pain and taking care of yourself during the grieving process. (Nemours Foundation)

Coping with Loss – Tips for seniors on dealing with grief and loss. (AARP)
Grief: Coping with Reminders after a Loss – Tips for coping with the grief that can resurface even years after you’ve lost a loved one. (Mayo Clinic)
Complicated Grief – Learn the difference between the normal grief reaction and complicated grief. Includes information about symptoms, risk factors, and treatment (Mayo Clinic)

Grief after Suicide – Understanding your emotions, as well as
suicide in general, may ease your grieving after suicide. (Buddha Dharma Education Association)
Find a GriefShare group meeting near you – Worldwide directory of support groups for people grieving the death of a family member or friend. (GriefShare)
Find a DivorceCare group meeting near you – Worldwide directory of support groups for people going through a separation or divorce. (DivorceCare)
Resources – Find support in the U.S. for adults and kids grieving a loss. (HelloGrief)
Find Support – Directory of programs and support groups in the U.S. for children experiencing grief and loss. (National Alliance for Grieving Children)
Compassionate Friends – Self-help organization for those grieving the loss of a child. Includes a Chapter Locator for

finding support in the U.S. and International Support for finding help in other countries. (The Compassionate Friends) – Online support community for people dealing with grief, death, and major loss, with over fifty monitored support groups for both kids and adults. (
Using Facebook to Grieve – Article about using Facebook memorial pages to grieve a loved one. (Coping with Loss and Grief)
An Introduction to Grieving – Discusses how our reactions to grief are unique and individual and how the process can
be likened to a rollercoaster. (Hospice Foundation of America)

Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. Last updated: October 2017.

Appendix 16

Love is shown by Work in marriage

In married life, how do we let our spouse know that he/she is loved? Can our spouse feel this love through our words and deeds? Words are relatively easy. But love without work is like a body without a soul. We must work at being loving otherwise love will slowly fade away. The work we do will show how much our spouse means to us.
Without work it is just lip service. It is just words. It is insincere and it is empty. But working takes effort and that puts us out of our comfort zone. It means going the extra mile for our loved one.
It is often said that love is shown by work of self- sacrifice and self-forgetfulness. Easy to talk, but, how do we work at them? I believe in Jesus Christ so I go to Him for help. You may like to research into your respective religious faith in Bahai, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Jains, Judaism, Sikhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, etc, for help.
The Bible points out many ways in which we can work to attain the oneness and companionship we desire in our marriage. For love to grow and flourish in a marriage, we have to put in the effort to:

  1. Work
    Jesus loves us and He works at it, “we must carry out the work of the One who sent Me; the night will soon be here when no one can work”(John 9:4 NJB). God loves us and St Paul says, “God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished…” (Philippians 1:6 TEV)
    When we court our mate, we work to look our
    best, we work at being on time, we work to be at our best behaviour, we work to please our mate, we take effort and

time to select and give gifts that please, etc. When we have a baby we work at making the baby grow up healthy. We hug, kiss, feed, fuss over, change nappies, and wake up in the middle of the night to attend to the baby’s cry. We work and serve the need of the baby out of love and we get immense joy when the baby gives us a smile.
Most importantly the couple must work at not hurting each other. All couples crave gentleness from each other. Therefore, it is vital not to hurt each other by coldness, by angry scolding, by giving the silent treatment, by bitter words, by pushing the emotional triggers, by impatience, by harsh criticisms, by constant irritation, by neglect, by the withholding of the expressions of affection. Love craves its daily bread of tenderness. No couple should deny their spouse the little things of affection, the amenities of love, along the busy and trying days.
Mother Teresa says, “People who really and truly love each other are the happiest people in the world.”(Loving Jesus,
15) So, how do we continue to work at making our spouse know our love? The couple must constantly work at their marriage, spending time on it and making it into a labour of love.

  1. Accept Differences
    Do I always want my way? Do I become angry when I don’t have my way? But we are all unique. We are all brought up differently. So if we demand that our spouse follow only our way, we will have constant conflict and misunderstandings. We must learn to be tolerant so as to allow, accommodate and accept differences in views, perspectives, values, mannerisms, and ways of doing things. St Paul tells us, “Show your love by being tolerant with one another” (Ephesians 4:2 TEV)
  2. Initiate Giving Love
    What would be the result of our taking the initiative to express love towards our spouse? Am I affectionate? Do I nurture a gentle and patient relationship? We know that all good parents constantly encourage and affirm their children; do I regularly do the same with my spouse? The Bible tells us, ”we love Him because He first loved us.”(1 John 4:19 TEV) We must take the initiative and not forget the Golden Rule, “Do for others what you want them to do for you.” (Matthew 7:12 TEV) What the passages teach us is that if we want to nurture love in our relationship, we have to initiate giving love first.
  3. Trust
    Trust is the most fundamental ingredient in any lasting relationship. Am I deceptive and manipulative in my relationship with my spouse? Do I have double standards?
    Before we can trust each other we must be trustworthy ourselves. Faithfulness is vital for any married relationship. Without the deliberate choice to stay faithful, how can my spouse trust me? And one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is “faithfulness” (Galatians 5:22 TEV). St Paul declares that love “believes all things,” emphasising the necessity of trust in any loving relationship. (1 Corinthians 13:7 NKJV)
  4. Give sacrificially
    At the root of all marital conflict is the struggle of who do I love more—myself or my spouse? Am I always self- serving? Am I considerate to my spouse’s feelings or am I only sensitive to my own feelings? Jesus acknowledges that it is natural that we all love ourselves very well but He commands us to “Love your neighbour as you love

yourselves.” (Matthew 22:39 TEV) Our spouse is our closest neighbour. St Paul tells us, ”Men ought to love their wives just as they love their own bodies. A man who loves his wife loves himself. (None of us ever hate our bodies. Instead, we feed them, and take care of them)” [Ephesians 5:28-29 TEV]. Am I willing to sacrifice my innate self-centredness for the welfare and happiness of my spouse? Mother Teresa reminds us that, ”Love, in order to survive, must be nourished by sacrifices, especially the sacrifice of self.” (Loving Jesus, 101)

  1. Restrain certain actions
    How many times has our spouse requested us to refrain from certain behaviour? Has our spouse reminded us not to use foul language? Not to be so free with our sarcastic remarks?
    Has our spouse constantly asked us to stop our angry outbursts? Am I too proud to give way to such requests? Every time we fail to restrain ourselves, our spouse begins to question our love. God restrains Himself because of His great love for us: “For the sake of My name I shall defer My anger, for the sake of My honour I shall be patient with you, rather than destroy you.”(Isaiah 48:9 NJB)
  2. Always seek reconciliation and compromise
    Jesus seeks reconciliation with the whole world because He loves us and, ”He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants all to turn away from their sins.”(2 Peter 3:9 TEV) God devises a compromise to judgement by giving His Son to take our place, “For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 TEV) Love will always seek to find a solution to every conflict in marriage and be prepared to make compromises and to forgive and

make up, regardless of who is right or wrong. It is the unity of the couple that really counts.

  1. Commit Ourselves
    Commitment is the enduring and long-suffering quality of love that works and fights to strengthen a relationship. It is in the nature of true love to bind itself, to commit itself. St Paul described this quality when he said, “Love suffers long. . . bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”(1 Corinthians 13:4,7,8 NKJV) Do we possess this kind of commitment? This kind of patience and commitment is essential if we are to find a solution to the inevitable conflict of personality differences in a marriage. The couple must have the willingness to stay the course and not give up too readily.
  2. Endless Forgiveness
    People we love often hurt us unintentionally or intentionally by what they do or what they fail to do. If we want our love to flourish and grow at home, we have to learn to forgive endlessly. Jesus reminds Peter the number of times he has to forgive his brother, “’Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ answered Jesus, ‘but seventy times seven’” (Matthew 18:21-22 TEV). Similarly, Mother Teresa advises, “We must make our homes centers of compassion and forgive endlessly.” (A Gift for God, 18)
  3. Stop keeping scores
    The Bible teaches that “love does not keep a record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5 TEV). But can I choose to stop keeping scores of wrong done to me? We must learn to fully

and completely forgive our spouse for the wrongs done to us. Forgiveness is fundamental to the growth of a loving relationship. Mother Teresa stresses, “We know that if we really want to love we must learn how to forgive.” (A Gift for God, 18) Jesus reminds us “If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done.”(Matthew 6:15 TEV) God promises “I will forgive their sins and will no longer remember their wrongs.” (Hebrew 8:12 TEV) God does not keep a record of our wrongs when we repent. Similarly, we have to do the same.

  1. Small acts of Care and Consideration
    Many find it difficult to perform small acts of care and consideration in their homes. So we need a mindset change to provide them. The small acts of care and consideration are the daily living routine in the home such as encouraging, supporting, cheering, hugging, cooking, washing up after meals, vacuuming the house, smiles, taking time to chat and listen, warm greetings, accepting differences, constant affirmation, etc. If we can perform these little acts cheerfully and readily for each other, we will make our homes much more peaceful and happy. It is important that we learn the joy of sharing and serving each other. St Paul emphasises, “Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another, to show love and to do good.”(Hebrew 10:24 TEV)
  2. Communicate
    How our friends respond to our requests will determine how the friendship will progress—will it be better, strained or possibly end. Friendships that break are the ones that are full of verbal smoke screen. But friendships that last are the ones when individuals communicate how they desire to be loved.
    Jesus communicates His love for His disciples: ”I love you just

as the Father loves Me”(John 15:9 TEV). “My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you”(John 15:12 TEV).
Jesus also communicates how He wants us to love Him in return: ”If you love Me, you will obey My commandments” (John 14:15 TEV). Similarly all marriages need constant honest and sincere communication between couple to flourish, grow and last. We must constantly affirm: “I love you very much.” “You mean everything to me.” “You make my day.” “I care for you.” “I think of you often.” “You are my greatest gift.” “Marrying you is the best decision I have made.”
We communicate our love by our words, attitudes and deeds.

  1. Anger
    Do I get angry if I don’t get my way? Do I have a short fuse? Anger takes many forms. It can be obvious or it can be subtle. Some tempers manifest themselves in the following ways:

a) explosion we rage, we use anger to lash out at
others and intimidate them.
b) implosion we give the silent treatment, we sulk, we
turn it inward and beat ourselves up.
c) irritation we have little tolerance, we are out of
d) repetition we nag constantly, we are stuck in the
same angry groove.

We are the only one who can make ourselves angry.
We choose how we respond to the event that upset
us. We must choose to take active steps “never let the sun set on our anger or else we will give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians

4:27 NJB) The devil of anger will build walls between the
couple. Taming our anger is one step towards demolishing the walls of resentment and lack of tolerance.

  1. Mercy
    All marriages have their differences. There will always be disagreements. One major obstacle to reconciliation in any dispute is for the couple to stand on their pride and to stand on their presumed rightness. No reconciliation can start if the spouses do not learn to extend mercy to each other. Although the merciful one knows the risk of being hurt again, he/she still seeks ways to extend mercy.
    But what has mercy got to do in a marriage relationship?
    We know that mercy is extending kindness to the other party. When I refuse to extend mercy, I am implicitly saying that you must first pay for the so called hurt you have done to me before we can be reconciled. You must pay by apologizing first. I justify myself and I want justice. I put myself right and the other party wrong. I maintain that I am right. I am too proud to admit to any fault or to forgive first. If both sides ardently justify themselves, there can be no reconciliation. In order for the marriage to grow, we must learn to extend mercy to each other. For “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7 NKJV). And when we extend mercy to our spouse, we are being kind to ourselves. As Portia in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” says, “It (mercy) is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes” (Act4: Scene I:184-185).
    If we constantly harden our heart and ask for “our pound of flesh,” we will invariably head for trouble in our marriage. So don’t harbour grudges. Don’t rankle and don’t let the sun go down by standing on our self-righteousness and pride. Each may think that he/she is right but remember that there are many ways to look at the same thing. Jesus tells the Pharisees

to “go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’” (Matthew 9:13 NKJV). Thus we must also go and learn to extend mercy in any marriage dispute to come to reconciliation.

  1. Putting our spouse first
    Am I always kind and appreciative to my spouse?
    When I take action or make a decision, do I consider my spouse first. St Paul stresses this priority when he says that we are to “learn first of all to do our duty to our own families”(1 Timothy 5:4 NJB). Duty here means respect or godliness. So our first priority must be to show respect and godliness to the people in our homes. We must also “look out for one another’s interest, not just for your own.” (Philippians 2:4 TEV).
    It is extremely important to remember that the limited checklist above is for oneself to grow and improve and NOT as a checklist to use against our spouse. None of us, on our own effort, will have the staying power to stick to the above works. But if we ask the Holy Spirit within us to guide and help us stay the course, we will, in time, come close to achieving the ideal love we all so desired.

Incidentally, an easy way to constantly review in our mind the above deeds is to remember this acronym:
We patiently W A I T for G R A C E S from God. So let us go and join HIS C A M P.

In summary, constantly remind ourselves to:

  1. Work on loving our spouse,
  2. Work at NOT HURTING each other and
  3. Work towards making our marriage a labour of love.
    Love works only for those who WORK at it and with the help of the Holy Spirit through constant prayers.

Appendix 17

Learning how to love one another by St Therese of Lisieux

The passages below are taken from the Autobiography of St Therese of Lisieux, “Story of a Soul,” first published in 1898. It is translated from her original, unedited French manuscripts to English by John Clarke and re-published in 1975.

  1. Only love makes us acceptable to God
    O my dear Sister, you wish to hear about the secrets Jesus confides to your little sister; however, I realize He confides these secrets to you too, for you are the one who taught me how to gather the divine instructions. Nevertheless, I am going to stammer some words even though I feel it is quite impossible for the human tongue to express things which the human heart can hardly understand.
    Do not believe I am swimming in consolations; oh, no, my consolation is to have none on earth. Without showing Himself, without making His voice heard, Jesus teaches me in secret; it is not by means of books, for I do not understand what I am reading. Sometimes a word comes to console me, such as this one which I received at the end of prayer (after having remained in silence and aridity): “Here is the teacher whom I am giving you; he will teach you everything that you must do. I want to make you read in the book of life, wherein is contained the Science of LOVE.” (Little Breviary of the Sacred Heart) The science of Love, ah, yes, this word resounds sweetly in the ear of my soul, and I desire only this science. Having given all my riches for it, I esteem it as having given nothing as did the bride in the sacred Cantic1es. I understand so well that it is only love which makes us acceptable to God that this love is

the only good I yearn for. Jesus deigned to show me the road that leads to this Divine Furnace, and this road is the surrender of the little child who sleeps without fear in its Father’s arms. “Whoever is a little one, let him come to me.” (Proverbs 9:4) So speaks the Holy Spirit through the mouth of Solomon. This same Spirit of Love also says: “For to him that is little, mercy will be shown.”(Wisdom 6:7) The Prophet Isaiah reveals in His name that on the last day: “God shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather together the lambs with his arm, and shall take them up in his bosom.” (Isaiah 40:11) As though these promises were not sufficient, this same prophet whose gaze was already plunged into the eternal depths cried out in the Lord’s name: “As one whom a mother caresses, so will I comfort you; you shall be carried at the breasts and upon the knees they will caress you.” (Isaiah 66:12-13)

After having listened to words such as these, dear godmother, there is nothing to do but to be silent and to weep with gratitude and love. Ah! if all weak and imperfect souls felt what the least of souls feels, that is, the soul of your little Thérèse, not one would despair of reaching the summit of the mount of love. Jesus does not demand great actions from us but simply surrender and gratitude. Has He not said: “I will not take the he-goats from out your flocks, for all the beasts of the forest are mine, the cattle on the hills and the oxen. I know all the fowls of the air. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof.
Shall I eat the flesh of bulls or shall I drink the blood of goats? OFFER TO GOD THE SACRIFICES OF PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING.” (Psalms 49:9-14)
See, then, all that Jesus lays claim to from us; He has no need of our works but only of our love, for the same God who declares He has no need to tell us when He is

hungry did not fear to beg for a little water from the Samaritan woman. He was thirsty. But when He said: “Give me to drink,“(John 4:7) it was the love of His poor creature the Creator of the universe was seeking. He was thirsty for love. Ah! I feel it more than ever before, Jesus is parched, for He meets only the ungrateful and indifferent among His disciples in the world, and among His own disciples, alas, He finds few hearts who surrender to Him without reservations, who understand the real tenderness of His infinite Love. (187-189)

  1. What to do with People who Take our ideas
    Dear Mother, I was writing yesterday that since earthly goods do not belong to me, I should find no difficulty in never reclaiming them when they are sometimes taken away from me. The goods of heaven don’t belong to me either: they are lent to me by God, who can withdraw them without my having a right to complain. However, the goods which come directly from God, inspirations of the mind and heart, profound thoughts, all this forms a riches to which we are attached as to a proper good which no one has a right to touch. For example, if on a free day I tell a Sister about some light received during prayer and shortly afterwards this same Sister,speaking to another, tells her what I confided to her as though it were her own thought, it seems as though she were taking what does not belong to her. Of else if during recreation one Sister whispers to her companion something that is very witty and to the point, if her companion repeats it aloud without making known its source, this appears again as a theft from the owner who doesn’t claim it, but would like to do so and will seize the first opportunity to make it known that her thoughts have been borrowed.

Mother, I would not be able to explain these sad sentiments of nature if I had not felt them in my own heart, and I would like to entertain the sweet illusion that they visited only my heart, but you commanded me to listen to the temptations of your dear little novices. I learned very much when carrying out the mission you entrusted to me; above all I was forced to practice what I was teaching to others. And so now I can say that Jesus has given me the grace of not being any more attached to the goods of the mind and heart than to those of earth. If it happens that I think or say something, which is pleasing to my Sisters, I find it very natural that they take it as a good that belongs to them. This thought belongs to the Holy Spirit and not to me since St. Paul says we cannot, without the Spirit of Love, give the name of “Father” to our Father in heaven.(Romans 8:15) He is therefore free to use me to give a good thought to a soul; and if I think this inspiration belongs to me, I would be like “the donkey carrying the relics” (LaFontaine, Fables, Book 5, 14) who believed the reverence paid to the saints was being directed to him.
I do not hold in contempt beautiful thoughts which nourish the soul and unite it with God; but for a long time I have understood that we must not depend on them and even make perfection consist in receiving many spiritual lights. The most beautiful thoughts are nothing without good works. It is true that others can draw profit from them if they humble themselves and show their gratitude to God for permitting them to share in the banquet of a soul whom He is pleased to enrich with His graces. But if this soul takes delight in her beautiful thoughts and says the prayer of the Pharisee, she is like a person dying of hunger at a well-filled table where all his guests are enjoying abundant food and at times cast a look of envy

upon the person possessing so many good things. Ah! how true it is that God alone knows human hearts and that creatures are terribly narrow in their thoughts! When they see a soul more enlightened than others, immediately they conclude that Jesus loves them less than this soul, and that they cannot be called to the same perfection. Since when has the Lord no longer the right to make use of one of His creatures to dispense necessary nourishment to souls whom He loves? The Lord, even at the time of the Pharaohs, had this right, for in Scripture He says to this monarch: “And therefore have I raised you, that I may show MY POWER in you, and my name may be spoken of throughout all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16) Century has followed upon century since the Most-High has spoken those words, and since then His conduct has undergone no change, for He is always using His creatures as instruments to carry on His work in souls.
If a piece of canvas painted upon by an artist could think and speak, it certainly would not complain at being constantly touched and retouched by the brush, and would not envy the lot of that instrument, for it would realize it was not to the brush but to the artist using it that it owed the beauty with which it was clothed. The brush, too, would not be able to boast of the masterpiece produced with it, as it knows that artists are not at a loss; they play with difficulties, and are pleased to choose at times weak and defective instruments.
My dear Mother, I am a little brush which Jesus has chosen in order to paint His own image in the souls you entrusted to my care. An artist doesn’t use only one brush, but needs at least two; the first is the more useful and with it he applies the general tints and covers the canvas entirely in a very short time; the other, the smaller one, he uses for details.
Mother, you are the precious brush, which the hand of Jesus lovingly holds when He wishes to do a great work in the

souls of your children, and I am the very small brush He deigns to use afterwards for the smallest details. (233-235)

  1. Judge not and we will not be Judged
    During recreation the portress rang twice; the large workman’s gate had to be opened to bring in some trees for the crib. Recreation was not too gay because you were not there, dear Mother, and I thought that if they sent me to serve as third party I would be happy; at exactly that moment Mother Sub-prioress told me to go and serve in this capacity, or else the Sister who was at my side. Immediately I began to untie our apron but slowly in order that my companion untie hers before me, for I thought of giving her the pleasure of serving as third party. The Sister who was replacing the Procuratrix was looking at us, and seeing me get up last, she said: “Ah! I thought as much you were not going to gain this pearl for your crown, you were going too slowly.”
    Certainly, the whole community believed I had acted through selfishness, and I cannot say how much good such a small thing did to my soul, making me indulgent towards the weaknesses of others. This incident prevents me from being vain when I am judged favorably because I say to myself: Since one can take my little acts of virtue for imperfections, one can also be mistaken in taking for virtue what is nothing but imperfection. Then I say with St. Paul: “To me it is a very small thing to be judged by you, or by man’s day, but neither do I judge myself. He that judges me is THE LORD.” (1 Corinthians 4:3-4)
    In order that this judgment be favorable or rather that I be not judged at all, I want to be charitable in my thoughts towards others at all times, for Jesus has said: “Judge not, and you shall not be judged.” (Luke 6:37) (221-222)
  2. Love consists in Treating Kindly People who displease us
    Mother, when reading what I have just written, you could believe that the practice of charity is not difficult for me. It is true; for several months now I no longer have to struggle to practice this beautiful virtue. I don’t mean by this that I no longer have any faults; ah! I am too imperfect for that. But I mean that I don’t have any trouble in rising when I have fallen because in a certain combat I won a great victory; and the heavenly militia now comes to my aid since it cannot bear seeing me defeated after having seen me victorious in the glorious battle which I am going to try to describe.
    There is in the Community a Sister who has the faculty of displeasing me in everything, in her ways, her words, her character, everything seems very disagreeable to me. And still, she is a holy religious who must be very pleasing to God. Not wishing to give in to the natural antipathy I was experiencing, I told myself that charity must not consist in feelings but in works; then I set myself to doing for this Sister what I would do for the person I loved the most. Each time I met her I prayed to God for her, offering Him all her virtues and merits. I felt this was pleasing to Jesus, for there is no artist who doesn’t love to receive praise for his works, and Jesus, the Artist of souls, is happy when we don’t stop at the exterior, but, penetrating into the inner sanctuary where He chooses to dwell, we admire its beauty. I wasn’t content simply with praying very much for this Sister who gave me so many struggles, but I took care to render her all the services possible, and when I was tempted to answer her back in a disagreeable manner, I was content with giving her my most friendly smile, and with changing the subject of the conversation, for the Imitation says: “it is better

to leave each one in his own opinion than to enter into arguments.“(The Imitation of Christ, III, 44:1) (222-223)

  1. Flee from Combats if we are going to lose the Peace of our Soul
    Frequently, when I was not at recreation (I mean during the work periods) and had occasion to work with this Sister, I used to run away like a deserter whenever my struggles became too violent. As she was absolutely unaware of my feelings for her, never did she suspect the motives for my conduct and she remained convinced that her character was very pleasing to me. One day at recreation she asked in almost these words: “Would you tell me, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, what attracts you so much towards me; every time you look at me, I see you smile?” Ah! what attracted me was Jesus hidden in the depths of her soul; Jesus who makes sweet what is most bitter.(The Imitation of Christ, III,5:3) I answered that I was smiling because I was happy to see her (it is understood that I did not add that this was from a spiritual standpoint).
    Dear Mother, I have already told you that my last means of not being defeated in combats is desertion; I was already using this means during my novitiate, and it always succeeded perfectly with me. I wish, Mother, to give you an example, which I believe will make you smile.
    During one of your bronchial attacks, I came to your cell very quietly one morning to return the keys of the Communion grating since I was sacristan. I wasn’t too displeased at having this opportunity to see you; I was very much pleased, but I didn’t dare to show it. A Sister, animated with a holy zeal, and one who loved me very much, believed I was going to awaken you when she saw me entering your quarters; she wanted to take the keys from me. I was too stubborn to give them to her

and to cede my rights. As politely as I could, I told her that it was my duty to return the keys. I understand now that it would have been more perfect to cede to this Sister, young, it is true, but still older than I. I did not understand it at the time, and as I wanted absolutely to enter in spite of the fact that she was pushing the door to prevent me, very soon the thing we feared most happened: the racket we were making made you open your eyes. Then, Mother, everything tumbled upon me. The poor Sister whom I had resisted began to deliver a whole discourse, the gist of which was: It’s Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus who made the noise; my God, how disagreeable she is, etc. I, who felt just the contrary, had a great desire to defend myself. Happily, there came a bright idea into my mind, and I told myself that if I began to justify myself I would not be able to retain my peace of soul. I felt, too, that I did not have enough virtue to permit myself to be accused without saying a word. My last plank of salvation was in flight. No sooner thought than done. I left without fuss, allowing the Sister to continue her discourse which resembled the imprecations of Camillus against the city of Rome. My heart was beating so rapidly that it was impossible for me to go far, and I sat down on the stairs in order to savor the fruits of my victory. There was no bravery there, Mother; however, I believe it was much better for me not to expose myself to combat when there was certain defeat facing me. (223-224)

  1. Love Covers a multitude of Sins
    Alas! when I think of the time of my novitiate I see how imperfect I was. I made so much fuss over such little things that it makes me laugh now. Ah! how good the Lord is in having matured my soul, and in having given it wings. All the nets of the hunters would not be able to frighten me, for: “. .

.the net is spread in vain before the eyes of them that have wings.“(Proverbs 1:17) Later on, no doubt, the time in which I am now will appear filled with imperfections, but now I am astonished at nothing. I am not disturbed at seeing myself weakness itself. On the contrary, it is in my weakness that I glory,(2 Corinthians 12:5) and I expect each day to discover new imperfections in myself. Remembering that “charity covers a multitude of sins,“ (Proverbs 10:12) I draw from this rich mine which Jesus has opened up before me. (224)

  1. Love those who don’t Love us
    The Lord, in the Gospel, explains in what His new commandment consists. He says in St. Matthew: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.‘ But I say to you, love your enemies. . pray for those who persecute you.“(Matthew 5:43-44) No doubt, we don’t have any enemies in Carmel, but there are feelings. One feels attracted to this Sister, whereas with regard to another, one would make a long detour in order to avoid meeting her. And so, without even knowing it, she becomes the subject of persecution.
    Well, Jesus is telling me that it is this Sister who must be loved, she must be prayed for even though her conduct would lead me to believe that she doesn’t love me: “If you love those who love you, what reward will you have? For even sinners love those who love them.“ (Luke 6:32) (224-225)
  2. Ask no return from anyone who Takes Away our Goods
    And it isn’t enough to love; we must prove it. We are naturally happy to offer a gift to a friend; we love especially to give surprises; however, this is not charity, for sinners do

this too. Here is what Jesus teaches me also: “Give to EVERYONE who asks of you, and from HIM WHO TAKES AWAY your goods, ask no return.“(Luke 6:30) Giving to all those who ask is less sweet than offering oneself by the movement of one’s own heart; again, when they ask for something politely, it doesn’t cost so much to give, but if, unfortunately, they don’t use very delicate words, the soul is immediately up in arms if she is not well founded in charity. She finds a thousand reasons to refuse what is asked of her, and it is only after having convinced the asker of her tactlessness that she will finally give what is asked, and then only as a favor; or else she will render a light service which could have been done in one-twentieth of the time that was spent in setting forth her imaginary rights.
Although it is difficult to give to one who asks, it is even more so to allow one to take what belongs to you, without asking it back. 0 Mother, I say it is difficult; I should have said that this seems difficult, for the yoke of the Lord is sweet and light.(Matthew 11:30) When one accepts it, one feels its sweetness immediately and cries out with the Psalmist: “I have run the way of your commandments when you enlarged my heart.“(Psalms 118:32) It is only charity which can expand my heart. 0 Jesus, since this sweet flame consumes it, I run with joy in the way of Your NEW commandment. I want to run in it until that blessed day when, joining the virginal procession, I shall be able to follow You in the heavenly courts, singing Your NEW canticle (Apocalypse 14:3) which must be Love. (225-226)

  1. Renouncing One’s Rights is like giving up one’s cloak
    I was saying: Jesus does not want me to lay claim to what belongs to me; and this should seem easy and natural to me since nothing is mine. I have renounced the

goods of this earth through the Vow of Poverty, and so I haven’t the right to complain when one takes a thing that is not mine. On the contrary, I should rejoice when it happens that I feel the pinch of poverty. Formerly, it seemed to me that I was attached to nothing, but ever since I understood the words of Jesus, I see on occasions that I am very imperfect. For example, in my work of painting there is nothing that belongs to me, I know. But if, when I am preparing for some work, I find that the brushes and the paints are in disorder, if a rule or a penknife has disappeared, patience is very close to abandoning me and I must take my courage in both hands in order to reclaim the missing object without bitterness. We really have to ask for indispensable things, but when we do it with humility, we are not failing in the commandment of Jesus; on the contrary, we are acting like the poor who extend their hand to receive what is necessary for them; if they are rebuked they are not surprised, as no one owes them anything.

Ah! what peace floods the soul when she rises above natural feelings. No, there is no joy comparable to that which the truly poor in spirit experience. If such a one asks for something with detachment, and if this thing is not only refused but one tries to take away what one already has, the poor in spirit follow Jesus’ counsel: “If anyone take away your coat, let go your cloak also.“ (Matthew 5:40)
To give up one’s cloak is, it seems to me, renouncing one’s ultimate rights; it is considering oneself as the servant and the slave of others. When one has left his cloak, it is much easier to walk, to run, and Jesus adds: “And whoever forces you to go one mile, go two more with him.“ (Matthew 5:41) Thus it is not enough to give to everyone who asks;(Luke 6:30) I must even anticipate their desires,

appear to be very much obliged and honored to render service, and if anyone takes something which is for my use, I must not appear to be sorry about this but happy at being relieved of it. Dear Mother, I am very far from practicing what I understand, and still the desire alone I have of doing it gives me peace. (226-227)

  1. How to Respond when one is Interrupted by Useless Distractions
    I feel that I have explained myself poorly, even more so than on the other days. I made a kind of discourse on charity, which must have tired you when you were reading it. Pardon me, dear Mother, and remember that at this very moment the infirmarians practice in my regard what I have just written; they don’t hesitate to take two thousand paces when twenty would suffice.(She is writing in the garden in a wheel chair) So I have been able to contemplate charity in action! Undoubtedly my soul is embalmed with it; as far as my mind is concerned I admit it is paralyzed in the presence of such devotedness, and my pen has lost its lightness. In order for me to translate my thoughts, I have to be like the solitary sparrow,(Psalms 101:8) and this is rarely my lot. When I begin to take up my pen, behold a Sister who passes by, a pitchfork on her shoulder. She believes she will distract me with a little idle chatter: hay, ducks, hens, visits of the doctor, everything is discussed; to tell the truth, this doesn’t last a long time, but there is more than one good charitable Sister, and all of a sudden another hay worker throws flowers on my lap, perhaps believing these will inspire me with poetic thoughts. I am not looking for them at the moment and would prefer to see the flowers remain swaying on their stems. Finally, fatigued by opening and shutting this famous copybook, I open a book (which doesn’t want to stay open) and say resolutely

that I shall copy out some thoughts from the psalms and the Gospels for the feast of Our Mother. It’s very true that I am not sparing in these quotes.
Dear Mother, I would amuse you, I believe, when telling you about all my adventures in the groves of Carmel; I don’t know if I have been able to write ten lines without being disturbed; this should not make me laugh nor amuse me; however, for the love of God and my Sisters (so charitable towards me) I take care to appear happy and especially to be so. For example, here is a hay worker who is just leaving me after having said very compassionately: “Poor little Sister, it must tire you out writing like that all day long.” “Don’t worry,” I answer, “I appear to be writing very much, but really I am writing almost nothing.” “Very good!” she says, “but just the same, I am very happy we are doing the haying since this always distracts you a little.” In fact, it is such a great distraction for me (without taking into account the infirmarians’ visits) that I am not telling any lies when I say that I am writing practically nothing.
Fortunately, I don’t easily get discouraged and to prove it, I am going to finish explaining what Jesus makes me understand concerning charity. I have spoken to you only about external charity; now I would like to confide to you what I understand about purely spiritual charity. I am very sure that I won’t be long in mixing the one with the other, but, since I am speaking to you, it will not be difficult for you to grasp my thought and to unravel your child’s skein. (227-228)

  1. Do not Turn away from anyone who wants to borrow from us
    It is not always possible in Carmel to practice the words of the Gospel according to the letter. One is obliged at times to refuse a service because of one’s duties; but when charity has buried its roots deeply within the soul, it shows itself externally.

There is such a delightful way of refusing what cannot be given that the refusal gives as much pleasure as the gift itself. It is true that one hesitates less to claim a service from a Sister who is always disposed to oblige but Jesus has said: “. . .and from him who would borrow of you, do not turn away.“ (Matthew 5:40) Thus under the pretext that one would be forced to refuse, one must not stay away from the Sisters who are always in the habit of asking for help. Neither should one be obliging in order to appear so or in the hope that another time the Sister whom one obliges will return the service in her turn, for Our Lord says again: “And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive in return, what merit have you? For even sinners lend to sinners that they may get back in return as much. But do good, and lend, NOT HOPING FOR ANYTHING IN RETURN, and your reward shall be great.“(Like 6:34-35) (228-229)

  1. Lend our Time without hoping for anything in Return
    Oh, yes! the reward is great, even on this earth; in this way it is only the first step that costs anything. To lend without hoping for anything appears difficult to nature; one would prefer to give, for a thing given no longer belongs to one. When one comes to you and says in a very convincing way: “Sister, I need your help for a few hours, but don’t worry, I have Mother’s permission, and I will return the time you are giving me because I know how rushed you are.” Truly, when one knows very well that never will the time one lends be ever returned, one would prefer to say: “I give it to you.” This would satisfy self-love, for giving is a more generous act than lending, and then we make the Sister feel we don’t depend on her services. Ah! how contrary are the teachings of Jesus to

the feelings of nature! Without the help of His grace it would be impossible not only to put them into practice but to even understand them. (229)

  1. Jesus’ Will is to love in me all those He commands me to love
    This year, dear Mother, God has given me the grace to understand what charity is; I understood it before, it is true, but in an imperfect way. I had never fathomed the meaning of these words of Jesus: “The second commandment is LIKE the first: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.“(Matthew 22:39) I applied myself especially to loving God, and it is in loving Him that I understood my love was not to be expressed only in words, for: “It is not those who say: ‘Lord, Lord!’ who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of my Father in heaven.“(Matthew 7:21) Jesus has revealed this will several times or I should say on almost every page of His Gospel. But at the Last Supper, when He knew the hearts of His disciples were burning with a more ardent love for Him who had just given Himself to them in the unspeakable mystery of His Eucharist, this sweet Savior wished to give them a new commandment. He said to them with inexpressible tenderness: “A new commandment I gave you that you love one another: THAT AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, YOU ALSO LOVE ONE ANOTHER. By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
    How did Jesus love His disciples and why did He love them? Ah! it was not their natural qualities which could have attracted Him since there was between Him and them an infinite distance. He was knowledge, Eternal Wisdom, while they were poor ignorant fishermen filled with earthly thoughts. And still Jesus called them his friends, His brothers.(John 15:15) He desires to see them reign with Him in the kingdom

of His Father, and to open that kingdom to them He wills to die on the cross, for He said: “Greater love than this no man has than that he lay down his life for his friend’”(John 15:13)
Dear Mother, when meditating upon these words of Jesus, I understood how imperfect was my love for my Sisters. I saw I didn’t love them as God loves them. Ah! I understand now that charity consists in bearing with the faults of others, in not being surprised at their weakness, in being edified by the smallest acts of virtue we see them practice. But I understood above all that charity must not remain hidden in the bottom of the heart. Jesus has said: “No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bushel basket, but upon the lamp-stand, so as to give light to ALL in the house.“ (Matthew 5:15) It seems to me that this lamp represents charity which must enlighten and rejoice not only those who are dearest to us but “ALL who are in the house” without distinction.
When the Lord commanded His people to love their
neighbor as themselves,(Leviticus 19:18) He had not as yet come upon the earth. Knowing the extent to which each one loved himself, He was not able to ask of His creatures a greater love than this for one’s neighbor. But when Jesus gave His Apostles a new commandment, HIS OWN COMMANDMENT, (John 15:12) as He calls it later on, it is no longer a question of loving one’s neighbor as oneself but of loving him as He, Jesus, has loved him, and will love him to the consummation of the ages.
Ah! Lord, I know you don’t command the impossible. You know better than I do my weakness and imperfection; You know very well that never would I be able to love my Sisters as You love them, unless You, 0 my Jesus, loved them in me. It is because You wanted to give me this grace that You made Your new commandment. Oh! how I love this new commandment

since it gives me the assurance that Your Will is to love in me all those You command me to love!
Yes, I feel it, when I am charitable, it is Jesus alone who is acting in me, and the more united I am to Him, the more also do I love my Sisters. When I wish to increase this love in me, and when especially the devil tries to place before the eyes of my soul the faults of such and such a Sister who is less attractive to me, I hasten to search out her virtues, her good intentions; I tell myself that even if I did see her fall once, she could easily have won a great number of victories which she is hiding through humility, and that even what appears to me as a fault can very easily be an act of virtue because of her intention. I have no trouble in convincing myself of this truth because of a little experience I had which showed me we must never judge. (219-221)

  1. Seek out the company of people who are the least agreeable to us
    Ah! Mother, ever since I got sick, the cares you bestowed upon me taught me a great deal about charity. No remedy appeared too expensive to you, and when it did not succeed you tried another thing without tiring. When I was going to recreation, what attention you paid in order to shelter me from draughts! Finally, if I wanted to tell all, I would never end.
    When, thinking over all these things, I told myself that I should be as compassionate towards the spiritual infirmities of my Sisters as you are, dear Mother, when caring for me with so much love.
    I have noticed (and this is very natural) that the most saintly Sisters are the most loved. We seek their company; we render them services without their asking; finally, these souls so capable of bearing with

the lack of respect and consideration of others see themselves surrounded with everyone’s affection. We may apply to them these words of our Father St. John of the Cross: “All goods were given to me when I no longer sought them through self-love.”
On the other hand, imperfect souls are not sought out. No doubt we remain within the limits of religious politeness in their regard, but we generally avoid them, fearing lest we say something which isn’t too amiable. When I speak of imperfect souls, I don’t want to speak of spiritual imperfections since the most holy souls will be perfect only in heaven; but I want to speak of a lack of judgment, good manners, touchiness in certain characters; all these things which don’t make life very agreeable. I know very well that these moral infirmities are chronic, that there is no hope of a cure, but I also know that my Mother would not cease to take care of me, to try to console me, if I remained sick all my life. This is the conclusion I draw from this: I must seek out in recreation, on free days, the company of the Sisters who are the least agreeable to me in order to carry out with regard to these wounded souls the office of the good Samaritan. A word, an amiable smile, often suffice to make a sad soul bloom; but it is not principally to attain this end that I wish to practice charity, for I know I would soon become discouraged: a word I shall say with the best intention will perhaps be interpreted wrongly. Also, not to waste my time, I want to be friendly with everybody (and especially with the least amiable Sisters) to give joy to Jesus and respond to the counsel He gives in the Gospel in almost these words:
“When you give a dinner or a supper, do not invite your friends, or your brethren, or your relatives, or your rich neighbors, lest perhaps they also invite you in return, and a

recompense be made to you. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; and blessed shall you be, because they have nothing to repay you with (Luke 14:12-14), and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.“ (Matthew 6:4)
What banquet could a Carmelite offer her Sisters except a spiritual banquet of loving and joyful charity? As far as I am concerned, I know no other and I want to imitate St. Paul who rejoiced with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15); it is true he wept with the afflicted and tears must sometimes appear in the feast I wish to serve, but I shall always try to change these tears into joy (John 16:20), since the Lord loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). (245-247)

  1. Offer More help to crotchety, old People
    I remember an act of charity God inspired me to perform while I was still a novice. It was only a very small thing, but our Father who sees in secret and who looks more upon the intention than upon the greatness of the act has already rewarded me without my having to wait for the next life. It was at the time Sister St. Pierre was still going to the choir and the refectory. She was placed in front of me during evening prayer. At ten minutes to six a Sister had to get up and lead her to the refectory, for the infirmarians had too many patients and were unable to attend to her. It cost me very much to offer myself for this little service because I knew it was not easy to please Sister St.
    Pierre. She was suffering very much and she did not like it when her helpers were changed. However, I did not want to lose such a beautiful opportunity for exercising charity, remembering the words of Jesus: “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me.“(Matthew 25:40) I offered myself very humbly to lead her, and it was with

a great deal of trouble that I succeeded in having my services accepted! I finally set to work and had so much good will that I succeeded perfectly.
Each evening when I saw Sister St. Pierre shake her hour-glass I knew this meant: Let’s go! It is incredible how difficult it was for me to get up, especially at the beginning; however, I did it immediately, and then a ritual was set in motion. I had to remove and carry her little bench in a certain way, above all I was not to hurry, and then the walk took place. It was a question of following the poor invalid by holding her cincture; I did this with as much gentleness as possible. But if by mistake she took a false step, immediately it appeared to her that I was holding her incorrectly and that she was about to fall. “Ah! my God! You are going too fast; I’m going to break something.” If I tried to go more slowly: “Well, come on! I don’t feel your hand; you’ve let me go and I’m going to fall! Ah! I was right when I said you were too young to help me.”
Finally, we reached the refectory without mishap; and here other difficulties arose. I had to seat Sister St. Pierre and I had to act skillfully in order not to hurt her; then I had to turn back her sleeves (again in a certain way), and afterwards I was free to leave. With her poor crippled hands she was trying to manage with her bread as well as she could. I soon noticed this, and, each evening, I did not leave her until after I had rendered her this little service. As she had not asked for this, she was very much touched by my attention, and it was by this means that I gained her entire good graces, and this especially (I learned this later) because, after cutting her bread for her, I gave her my most beautiful smile before leaving her all alone.
Dear Mother, perhaps you are surprised that I write about this little act of charity, performed so long ago. Ah! if I

have done so, it is because I feel I must sing of the Lord’s mercies because of it. He deigned to leave its memory with me as a perfume which helps me in the practice of charity. I recall at times certain details which are like a springtime breeze for my soul. Here is one which comes to my memory: One winter night I was carrying out my little duty as usual; it was cold, it was night. Suddenly, I heard off in the distance the harmonious sound of a musical instrument. I then pictured a well-lighted drawing room, brilliantly gilded, filled with elegantly dressed young ladies conversing together and conferring upon each other all sorts of compliments and other worldly remarks. Then my glance fell upon the poor invalid whom I was supporting. Instead of the beautiful strains of music I heard only her occasional complaints, and instead of the rich gildings I saw only the bricks of our austere cloister, hardly visible in the faintly glimmering light. I cannot express in words what happened in my soul; what I know is that the Lord illumined it with rays of truth which so surpassed the dark brilliance of earthly feasts that I could not believe my happiness. Ah! I would not have exchanged the ten minutes employed in carrying out my humble office of charity to enjoy a thousand years of worldly feasts. If already in suffering and in combat one can enjoy a moment of happiness that surpasses all the joys of this earth, and this when simply considering that God has withdrawn us from this world, what will this happiness be in heaven when one shall see in the midst of eternal joy and everlasting repose the incomparable grace the Lord gave us when He chose us to dwell in His
house (Psalms 22:6), heaven’s real portal?
It wasn’t always in such transports of joy that I practiced charity, but at the beginning of my religious life Jesus wanted to have me experience how sweet it is to see Him in the souls

of His brides. When I was guiding Sister St. Pierre, I did it with so much love that I could not possibly have done better had I been guiding Jesus Himself. (247-249)

  1. Change what constantly irritate us into something we can Offer to Jesus
    The practice of charity, as I have said, dear Mother, was not always so sweet for me, and to prove it to you I am going to recount certain little struggles which will certainly make you smile. For a long time at evening meditation, I was placed in front of a Sister who had a strange habit and I think many lights because she rarely used a book during meditation. This is what I noticed: as soon as this Sister arrived, she began making a strange little noise which resembled the noise one would make when rubbing two shells, one against the other. I was the only one to notice it because I had extremely sensitive hearing (too much so at times).
    Mother, it would be impossible for me to tell you how much this little noise wearied me. I had a great desire to turn my head and stare at the culprit who was very certainly unaware of her “click.” This would be the only way of enlightening her. However, in the bottom of my heart I felt it was much better to suffer this out of love for God and not to cause the Sister any pain. I remained calm, therefore, and tried to unite myself to God and to forget the little noise. Everything was useless. I felt the perspiration inundate me, and I was obliged simply to make a prayer of suffering; however, while suffering, I searched for a way of doing it without annoyance and with peace and joy, at least in the interior of my soul, I tried to love the little noise which was so displeasing; instead of trying not to hear it (impossible), I paid close attention so as to hear it well, as though it were a

delightful concert, and my prayer (which was not the Prayer of Quiet) was spent in offering this concert to Jesus. (249-250)

  1. Putting up with Lack of Consideration from Others Another time, I was in the laundry doing the
    washing in front of a Sister who was throwing dirty water into my face every time she lifted the handkerchiefs to her bench; my first reaction was to draw back and wipe my face to show the Sister who was sprinkling me that she would do me a favor to be more careful. But I immediately thought I would be very foolish to refuse these treasures which were being given to me so generously, and I took care not to show my struggle. I put forth all my efforts to desire receiving very much of this dirty water, and was so successful that in the end I had really taken a liking to this kind of aspersion, and I promised myself to return another time to this nice place where one received so many treasures.
    My dear Mother, you can see that I am a very little soul and that I can offer God only very little things.It often happens that I allow these little sacrifices which give such peace to the soul to slip by; this does not discourage me, for I put up with having a little less peace and I try to be more vigilant on another occasion.(250)
    ———– ——— ———

St Therese of Lisieux was born on 2nd April 1873 and died on 30th Sept 1897, at the age of 24 years 9 months of tuberculosis. She first coughed out blood on 3rd April 1896 and suffered much agony before she passed away 1.5 years later. She spent the first 15 years of her life in her devout

Catholic family and went to stay for 9 years in a cloistered community of some 20 Carmelite nuns at Lisieux, Normandy, France.
The translator, John Clarke wrote:
“We find the Pope making reference here to the words of Jesus regarding this teaching (by St Therese) on spiritual childhood. These words we recall from several places in the Gospels: “Amen, I say to you, unless you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18: 3) “Whoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, he will be greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4) And elsewhere: “Allow the little ones to come to me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mark 10:14) “Amen, I say to you, whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall never enter into it.” (Mark 10:15)
Although St. Thérèse was well acquainted with these familiar quotations from the New Testament because she meditated upon the Gospels frequently, it is interesting to note that when she teaches her “little way” explicitly, she uses texts from the Old Testament. There are three in particular which became the foundation of this teaching: “Whoever is a little one, let him come to me.” (Proverbs 9: 4) “For to him that is little, mercy will be shown.” (Wisdom 6: 7) “As one whom a mother caresses, so will I comfort you; you shall be carried at the breasts, and upon the knees they shall fondle you.” (Isaiah 66:12—13)
These texts do not exhaust the Old Testament teaching on this matter. We have such texts as the following: “The declaration of your word gives light and understanding to little ones.” (Psalm 118:130) “The testimony of the Lord is faithful, giving wisdom to little ones.” (Psalm 18:8) “The Lord is the keeper of little ones.” (Psalm 114:6)

When we consider meditatively these teachings so frequently repeated in both the Old and the New Testaments, we cannot help but feel that it must be tremendously important to become a “little one,” to enter into the state of spiritual childhood. In his teaching on the matter, Benedict XV reasoned this way: “When a teacher adopts various methods to inculcate the same lesson, does he not thereby seek to emphasize its value in his sight? If Jesus Christ used so many devices to drive home this lesson to His disciples, it is because He wishes, by one means or another, to ensure their thorough understanding of it. From this we must conclude it was the divine Master’s express desire that His disciples should see that THE WAY OF SPIRITUAL CHILDHOOD IS THE PATH WHICH LEADS TO ETERNAL LIFE.”
What better teacher can we have than the one set up by God Himself, namely, St. Thêrèse of the Child Jesus? And where can we find these teachings best expressed if not in her own writings which she wanted to see published immediately after her death for this very purpose? Story of a Soul has a very interesting history. It has been in circulation for the past seventy-five years and has been read and pondered by millions of Thérèse’s devoted admirers. Its title, Story of a Soul, is the original French title, Histoire d’une Arne, which was inspired by the very first words Thérèse penned when she began her writing: ‘It is to you, dear Mother, to you who are doubly my Mother, that I come to confide the story of my soul.’” (xiv-xv)
She wrote three different manuscripts, addressed to three different persons, during three different years, namely 1895, 1896 and 1897.
The first edition of her book, Histoire d’une Arne, was published in 1898. Her writing, inspired by God, of the ‘little way’ is the way of spiritual childhood, the way of trust and absolute surrender. Her simple and direct

message of the Gospels was a source of deep religious inspiration for those who read it with an open mind.
Within a few years, pilgrims began making their way to her grave to pray. In 1923, Pius XI beatified her and on
17th May 1925, he solemnly canonized her in Rome. If she had lived, she would have been 52 years old on the year of her canonization.

Challenges for us today
St Therese has shown in her ‘little way’ how she has applied Love in her Carmelite environment. The challenge for us is to see how we can apply Love in our modern, fast paced, high stressed and job insecure environment.
Love one another has to be proven by Works and not Words. How can we do that? I have posed some questions below as a starter for us to reflect and work on. We will fail often but the intention of doing love by works is of paramount importance.

  1. Only love makes us acceptable to God
    Do I really know that God looks only for my love to be put into action and not with empty words?
    Do I know that love without sacrifices is useless? Am I tolerant of his faults?
  2. What to do with People who Take our ideas
    How do I treat people who steal my brilliant ideas, my pet projects and my credits?
    Will I be resentful and bitter with people who take what is not theirs? (Ephesians 4:31)
    If someone has done me wrong do I repay him with another wrong? (Romans 12:17)
    What do I say to people who borrow my watch, tell the time and pocket my watch? (Matthew 5:39)
  3. Judge not and we will not be Judged
    Do I respect people of other religion, race or culture? (Romans 12:10 TEV)
    Do I avoid people because of their handicaps—physical, mental, emotional or spiritual?
    Am I charitable in my thoughts towards others?
  4. Love consists in Treating Kindly people who displease us
    Am I gentle to displeasing people? Do I make war with words?
    Do I wound with my words? (Ephesians 4:29)
    Do I find it difficult not to answer back? (Matthew 5:39)
  5. Flee from Combat if we are going to lose the Peace of our Soul
    Do I continue to fight if it is going to rankle me?
    Would I walk away from the fight if I know that I will get angry and not be able to sleep? (Ephesians 4:31 NKJV)
    When I am insulted do I answer back with kind words? (1 Corinthians 4:13)
    Do I keep away from foolish arguments? (2 Timothy 2:16)
    Do I fight back or would I change the subject of the disagreement?
  6. Love Covers a multitude of Sins
    Do I see that it is Jesus acting in me when I am compassionate?
    Do I forgive those who hurt me often? (Matthew 18:22) Can I forget the wrongs he has done? (Hebrew 8:12) Am I envious of the good fortune of others? (1
    Corinthians 13:4)
  7. Love those who don’t Love us
    Am I kind to nasty people? Do I insult back with words?
    Do I show concern for others? (Romans 12:15)
  8. Ask no return from anyone who Takes Away our Goods
    If someone rudely asks me for something would I be willing to give?
    What would I do if he does not return my CD-ROM, books?
    What if he damages my car, books?
  9. Renouncing One’s Rights is like giving up one’s cloak
    Would I turn the other cheek? (Matthew 5:39) Would I go the extra mile? (Matthew 5:41) Would I insist on my rights?
    What would be my response to someone who cuts the queue? (Matthew 5:46)
  10. How to Respond when one is Interrupted by Useless Distractions
    When I have a deadline to keep would I still be patient when I am constantly interrupted?
    Will I give my time to people who keep interrupting with requests?
    What will be response to constant interruptions while I am at my computer doing something that I enjoy? (Matthew 7:8-9)
  11. Do not Turn away from anyone who wants to borrow from us
    Do I turn away if he wants to borrow my car, my money, my CD-ROM, my books? (Matthew 5:42)
    Will I be abrupt to people who constantly ask for advice? Do I close my heart to those in need? (1 John 3:17)
  12. Lend our Time without hoping for anything in Return
    Do I give generously my money, my time, my knowledge? (Romans 12:8)
    Am I a cheerful giver? (2 Corinthians 9:7 NKJV) Do I take care of my own relatives and others? (1
    Timothy 5:8)
  13. Jesus’ Will is to love in me all those He commands me to love
    Do I look out for their good intentions? Do I give them the benefit of doubt?
    Do I see only faults in others?
    Do I encourage the smallest act of virtue that I see? (Romans 12:8 TEV)
    Am I surprised by people’s weaknesses?
  14. Seek out the company of people who are the least agreeable to us
    Do I flee from touchy people? Do I avoid bores?
    Am I too proud and irritable with disagreeable people to want to keep company with them? (Galatians 5:26)
  15. Offer More help to crotchety, old People
    How should I respond to ungrateful people?
    Am I angry for being blamed when I give my help? (Ephesians 4:31)
    Do I show respect for old people? (1 Timothy 5:3)
    Am I prepared to be present for him even when I can’t do much? (Hebrew 10:24)
  16. Change what constantly Irritate us into something we can Offer to Jesus
    What do I do when my neighbors keep playing heavy metal music every night when I want to go to sleep? (1 Corinthians 13:7 NKJV)
    Do I do everything possible on my part to live in peace with one another? (Romans 12:18)
    Do I look out for one another’s interest instead of only my own? (Philippians 2:4)
  17. Putting up with Lack of Consideration from Others
    Am I tolerant with people who lack consideration? Am I tenderhearted with people? (Ephesians 4:32)
    Do I have a gentle attitude towards others? (Philippians 4:5)
    Am I humble and considerate? (Ephesians 4:2) Do I accept people for who they are?

Appendix 18

Work like a Horse or Work like a Steward

We live in a ferociously competitive, globalized world. It is the best of times and the worst of times. Why worst? There is a tremendous stress on the individual as there is no longer any job security. He cannot expect to be in the same organization for life. Even when he is very good in his work he can be out of job due to external circumstances. In fact, during his life time, he would be out of work several times due to outsourcing, downsizing, merger, plant shut-down, takeover, bankruptcy, restructuring, etc.
It is a very harsh and tough world. So every individual has to change his mindset. He has to see his job in the organisation as an assignment that will last for only two to five years, if he is lucky. What then can he do in this globalised world? He has to constantly learn relevant knowledge and skills to stay employable. There is no other alternative. The earlier he learns this, the more prepared he will be to face the challenges ahead.
Why best? There are many more interesting jobs and greater freedom for people to move across national borders.

We will be forced to work like a horse: when we are overcommitted; when we have too heavy mortgages to pay; when we spend beyond our means often; when we work with too much fear over our job security. However, can we travel lighter by making sure that we do not over-commit ourselves for too long a period? Since we cannot be assured of jobs, can we make sure that we do not extend our house mortgages to beyond 15-20 years? Can we ensure that we have the ability to pay back our credit cards debts? Do we have self-control over money matters?

On the other hand we have people who work like a steward. A very good example of such a person is Mother Teresa. She works without fear. She works with one heart full of love. She is not concerned with what she possesses. She is rich beyond the yardstick used by our material world to measure. In fact, the saying, “A rich person is not one who has the most, but is one who needs the least,” can truly be applied to her.
Yes, we do not want to work with too much fear neither can we work like Mother Teresa. We are all individuals. We have our own individual needs. We have our own crosses to carry. We have our own individual problems and circumstances.
Can we adopt a mindset between these two ways, one full of fear and anxiety and the other full of love? Maybe we need a change in our mindset:

(1) No matter how tough and demanding the work is, we have to learn to work with joy and cheerfulness. How? Don’t murmur and grumble. Do it willingly and gladly. This will make the task a pleasure to be enjoyed and not a pressure to be endured.

(2) Prayer is important. Instead of working by our own effort and claiming the credit solely for ourselves, we need to learn to pray the work. What does this praying the work mean? It means doing the work together with God and with God’s help and for God. What we do is firstly to get as many diverse views about the work problem as possible, then pray and listen to God. On important decisions we ask, “Am I making this decision for my ego, prestige and self interest or am I making it for God?” It also means that we acknowledge that God gives us our talent

and whatever hard work and effort we put into the work, we give God the credit. We are convinced that without His help we could not have done it so well.

(3) Work with a passion. Virtually all of us work for a living but few of us work for a life. To work for a life, we will willingly put in the extra effort and will burn the midnight oil. To work for a life also means that we make and give time to our God, family and friends. For they give meaning to our lives and they are the ones who will sustain and comfort us in our pain and adversity. With passion in our work we will make a difference in our lives and the lives of others. We do what we do gladly. We love what we do. And unless we love what we do, all our great effort will be useless.

(4) We will do any honest work that provides us with an income. We will not be choosy when we are out of job. We will not be ashamed to do even the most menial work. We can and will hold our head high.

(5) We will not compete with others. What? Not to compete in today’s working environment? Must be crazy! Yes, individually, we should not compete with others but we must always compete with ourselves. When we compete with ourselves we are constantly improving. Today I am better than yesterday. Tomorrow I will be better than today. In our life time we are constantly improving and this will make us employable. Our employability depends on us constantly learning new skills.

However, first things first, we must know our basic soft skills. We must know how to manage ourselves and others effectively and efficiently. We must internalize these basic soft skills in order that we can apply them instantly when the situation arises. These basic soft skills have been systemized and summarized in my book “Project Management Secrets of the Caesars Second Edition with appendix.” It can be downloaded free from my web site

But, more important than the basic soft skills, is a change in our mindset and a re-evaluation of our priorities. Can we adapt and modify for ourselves (in order to equip ourselves better and to suit our own individual needs) the sayings of Mother Teresa and the sayings in the New Testament on work?

I) Sayings of Mother Teresa on work

“When you are cooking, washing clothes, working hard in the office, do all with joy. That will be your love for God in action!” (A Life for God, 205)

“We must work in great faith, steadily, efficiently, and above all with great love and cheerfulness, for without this our work will be only the work of slaves, serving a hard master.” (A Life for God, 205)

“If you are really in love with Christ, no matter how small the work, it will be done better, it will be wholehearted. If your work is slapdash, then your love for God is slapdash. Your work must prove your love.” (A Life for God, 205)

“If you are working in the kitchen do not think it does not require brains. Do not think that sitting, standing, coming, and going, that everything you do, is not important to God?
God will not ask how many books you have read; how many miracles you have worked; He will ask you if you have done your best, for the love of Him. Can you in all sincerity say, “I have done my best”? Even if the best is failure, it must be our best, our utmost.
If you are really in love with Christ, no matter how small your work, it will be done better; it will be wholehearted. Your work will prove your love.” (No Greater Love,)

“You may be exhausted with work—you may even kill yourself but unless your work is interwoven with love, it is useless.” (A Life for God, 206)

“To work without love is slavery.” (A Life for God,

“There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work. It is a danger if we forget to whom we are doing it. This is where the respect and love and devotion come in, that we give it and do it to God, to Christ and that is why we do it as beautifully as possible. The beautiful experience that we have by serving, we must pass on to people who have not had it. It is one of the great rewards of our work.” (The Joy in Loving, 4 April)

“Our vocation is not the work—the fidelity to humble works is our means to put our love into action.” (A Life for God, 205)

“Our vocation is nothing else but to belong to Christ.
The work that we do is only a means to put our love for Christ into living action.” (A Life for God, 196)

“Never do the work carelessly because you wish to hide your gifts. Remember, the work is his. You are his co-worker. Therefore, he depends on you for that special work. Do the work with him, and the work will be done for him. The talents God has given you are not yours—they have been given to you for your use, for the glory of God. There can be no half measures in the work. You may feel very bad, but feelings are not the measure of our love for Christ. It is our will and our work that matters. Be great and use everything in you for the good Master.” (A Life for God, 206)

“You have done a lot of work these days; it was nicely done, but did you give what was inside of you?
What did that giving mean to you? Did you give with love and respect? If you did not pray that giving, it was just a giving of self.
Did the people see you give with love and respect? Did you give the medicine with faith to the sick Christ? This is the difference between you and the social worker.” (A Life for God, 206)

“Today, in the words of our Holy Father, each one of us must be able “to cleanse what is dirty, to warm what is lukewarm, to strengthen what is weak, to enlighten what is dark.” We must not be afraid to proclaim Christ’s love and to love as he loved. In the work we have to do, no matter how small and humble it may be, we must make it Christ’s love in action.” (A Life for God, 207)

“The more repugnant the work, the greater the effect of love and cheerful service. If I had not first picked up that woman who was eaten by rats—her face, and legs, and so on–
-could not have been a Missionary of Charity. But I returned, picked her up, and took her to Camphel Hospital. If I had not, the Society would have died. Feelings of repugnance are human. If we give our wholehearted, free service in spite of such feelings, we will become holy. St. Francis of Assisi was repulsed by lepers but he overcame it. He died; but Christ lives.” (A Life for God, 206)

“We need prayers in order to better carry out the work of God. Pray for us, so that the work we do may be God’s work and so that in every moment we may know how to be completely available to him.” (A Life for God, 207)

“How is it possible to change one’s work into a prayer?
Work cannot substitute for prayer. Nevertheless, we can learn to make work a prayer. How can we do this? By doing our work with Jesus and for Jesus. That is the way to make our work a prayer. It is possible that I may not be able to keep my attention fully on God while I work, but God doesn’t demand that I do so. Yet I can fully desire and intend that my work be done with Jesus and for Jesus. This is beautiful and that is what God wants. He wants our will and our desire to be for him, for our family, for our children, for our brethren, and for the poor.” (One Heart Full of Love, 58)

Mother Teresa has distilled from her long experience of working into:
The fruit of silence is PRAYER. The fruit of prayer is FAITH. The fruit of faith is LOVE.
The fruit of love is SERVICE.
The fruit of service is PEACE (JOY).
(Meditations from A Simple Path)

II) Some quotes from the New Testament about work.

  1. “Do all your work in love.” (l Corinthians 16:14 TEV)
  2. “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.” (Colossians 3:23 TEV)
  3. “Whoever refuses to work is not allowed to eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:l0 TEV)
  4. “Keep busy always in your work for the Lord, since you know that nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever useless.” (l Corinthians 15:58 TEV)
  5. “Work hard and do not be lazy” (Romans 12:11 TEV)
  6. In the parable of the Talents, we are asked not to be lazy and hide our talents but to work hard and multiply our talents. The message is, “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” (Matthew 25:29 NKJB)
  7. Earning a living is essential but, “Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be satisfied with what you have.” (Hebrew 13:5 TEV)
  8. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10 NKJB).
  9. No one can serve both God and money, as Jesus says “You cannot be a slave of two masters; you will hate one and love the other; you will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24 TEV)
  10. “Do not store up riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy and robbers break in and steal. Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. For your heart will always be where your riches are.” (Matthew 6:19-21 TEV)
  11. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 NKJV)
  12. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36 NKJV)

Yes, I need to ask myself, “What is my real return if I have to invest so much time to gain money, fame or power but have little time left to spend with my loved ones and God?”

Appendix 19

Forgiving our Enemies brings us Enormous Benefits
All the passages below are taken from Lee Strobel’s book, “God’s Outrageous Claims,” which was published in 1997 by Zondervan.

Associated Press reporter Terry Anderson was held hostage in Lebanon for nearly seven years. He was chained to a wall in a filthy, spider-infested cell. He suffered through sickness. He endured mental torture. He longed for his family. He was ground down by the dull ache of incessant boredom.
Through it all, he was given one book—the Bible—and as he devoured it in a search for words of hope, he came across what appeared to be outrageous words of hopeless naiveté: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’” Jesus told a crowd. “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”1
Can you imagine how outlandish that command must have seemed to Anderson after spending 2,455 mind-numbing days in cruel captivity? Love whom? Pray for whom? Show kindness toward those who brutalized me? Exhibit compassion toward those who callously extended none to me? Is Jesus a cosmic comedian or merely a starry-eyed idealist?
Finally Anderson was released on December 4, 1991.
Journalists clustered around and peppered him with questions. They wanted to know what his ordeal had been like. They wanted to know his plans for the future. But then one reporter called out the question that stopped Anderson in his tracks: “Can you forgive your captors?” What an easy question to

pose in the abstract; what a profound issue to ponder honestly amid the grim reality of harsh injustice.
Anderson paused. Before the words of his response could come out of his mouth, the Lord’s Prayer coursed through his mind: “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.”2
Then this victim of undeserved suffering spoke. “Yes,” he replied, “as a Christian, I am required to forgive—no matter how hard it may be.”3
Often it is hard. So hard, in fact, that Jesus’ decree to love and pray for our opponents is regarded as one of the most breathtaking and gut-wrenching challenges of his entire Sermon on the Mount, a speech renowned for its outrageous claims. There was no record of any other spiritual leader ever having articulated such a clear-cut, unambiguous command for people to express compassion to those who are actively working against their best interests.
Jesus has done it again!
But wait Hold on a moment. Maybe this command isn’t so outlandish after all. Perhaps it’s actually a prescription that benefits both those who forgive and those who are forgiven. Maybe there are a host of benefits that come with fostering an atmosphere of grace rather than an environment of maliciousness.
The truth is, God’s wisdom works. Choosing to forgive instead of hate can turn out to be one of our greatest blessings in disguise—if we understand how this extraordinary principle works.

Love my enemies? I don’t have any enemies—do you?
Nobody has ever shoved a machine gun under my chin and herded me into a dark cell for seven years. Nobody has ever brutalized me the way Terry Anderson was abused.

But even in the civilized United States, we do have enemies. They may not be armed terrorists, but to one degree or another we all have adversaries or opponents toward whom we feel animosity. He may be the owner of a competing business who’s stealing your best customers, and if you’re honest, you’ll admit that you hate him for putting your livelihood in jeopardy. She may be a colleague who’s fighting against you—all too successfully—for bonuses and advancement. He may be the mid-level executive who’s firmly entrenched above you in the corporate structure, and you resent him because he’s blocking your way to the top.
If you’re management, your adversary may be the union, or vice versa. Your enemy might be the people who hold opposing views on abortion or homosexuality, and you’ve gone beyond disagreeing with their opinions to despising them as people. It might be a teacher who refuses to cut you any slack. Or the girlfriend who broke your heart. Or the father who stunted your self-esteem. Or a former friend who broke your confidence and spilled your secrets to the world. Or the ex- spouse who trashed your marriage. Or the recalcitrant employee who just won’t get on board with your policies. Or the classmate whose popularity eclipses yours. Or the colleague who is reaping all the recognition that you deserve.
When I was a journalist at the Chicago Tribune, I had plenty of enemies. They were reporters at the Sun-Times, the Daily News, and the various broadcast stations who would strive to beat me to stories. I felt intense malice toward them because in order for them to succeed, they had to cause me to fail. Even now that I’m a pastor—although I’m terribly embarrassed to admit this—I sometimes jealously view others as opponents if they are better received as speakers, writers, or leaders. Such can be the depth of my own sinful pettiness.

We all have rivals. In fact let me press the issue further by asking you to get specific. Who are the adversaries in your life? What are their names? Actually bring one of their faces into your mind, because I don’t want us to stay merely in the realm of the hypothetical. Let’s talk about real people, real relationships, real conflict–—and the road toward real healing.

Exactly what do you need to do about that person you’ve brought into your mind? It’s too general just to say that you’re supposed to love him or her. Should you stop competing with this individual? Should you become best buddies or golfing partners? Should you go on Caribbean cruises together? Should you treat him or her like a son or daughter?
Jesus was very precise in choosing a word for “love” that doesn’t imply emotion as much as it suggests attitude and action. As difficult as it sounds, he’s urging us to have a humble, servant demeanor toward people who are our adversaries. To look for the best in them and offer help as they need it. To have a sense of goodwill and benevolence toward them in spite of their lack of the same toward us. To pray for their welfare and the well-being of their families. Even though we may continue to compete with them, we are to do so fairly and respectfully, not maliciously as if we’re trying to destroy them.
Technically, we aren’t being asked to like the other person, because that would require an emotion that we sometimes can’t conjure up, despite our best intentions. But in effect we are to treat them as though we like them—because that’s a decision of our will. We

don’t have to approve of what they are, what they’ve done, or how they conduct their affairs, but we are to love who they are—people who matter to God, just like you and I. People who have failed but who are eligible for God’s forgiving grace.
In fact, the Bible says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”4 Amazingly, God’s response to our rebellion against him wasn’t to declare war on us as his enemies.
Instead, he returned love for evil so the path could be paved for us to get back on good terms with him. And that’s the kind of love he wants us to extend to those who have crossed us.
But if you are mentally focusing on a particular rival right now, then my guess is that a one-word question has just popped into your mind: ‘Why? Why should I return goodwill for ill will?”
For those who are followers of Jesus, the answer is simple: he said that this is the pattern of living he wants his people to pursue. And that’s enough. We have confidence that he would never ask us to do anything that would ultimately work to our detriment.
But even beyond that, there are tremendous payoffs for following this ostensibly outrageous command.
Although our motive shouldn’t be to get something in return, the truth is that there’s a lot to be gained. In fact, these next few pages are going to focus on the extraordinary psychological, physical, relational, spiritual, and kingdom benefits that accrue when we resolve to forgive our adversaries.

“For as he thinks within himself,” says the Bible, “so he is.”5 In other words, people who entertain bitter thoughts and exhibit an angry attitude toward their enemies often become bitter and angry people. They become a hostage to their own hate. They don’t hold a grudge as much as the grudge holds them in its claws.
This was true for Elizabeth Morris, a woman from a small Kentucky town who told me about her remarkable metamorphosis from an angry and embittered woman into someone who experienced the freedom of becoming a grace giver. Elizabeth described how she had been sitting up late in the evening two days before Christmas in 1982, waiting for her son, Ted, to come home from his temporary job at a shopping mall. He had just completed his first semester at college and was working to get some extra money during the Christmas break.
But at 10:40 p.m., Elizabeth got the telephone call that all parents fear. “Mrs. Morris, this is the hospital,” said the voice. “Your son has been in an accident.”
As it turned out, another young man who had been driving. Drunk—in fact, whose blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit—had crossed the highway’s center line and smashed head-on into Ted’s car. The drunk driver was only slightly injured, but before the night was over, eighteen-year- old Ted Morris was dead.
Elizabeth and her husband, Frank, were devastated. Ted was their only child, a well-behaved son with a bright future, and suddenly he was gone. The Morrises’ anger escalated when the twenty-four-year-old man who killed Ted was given probation for the crime. Elizabeth told me that the hatred within her was like a wildfire sweeping down a dry canyon, consuming every part of her.

She began replaying the mental videotape of that night like a horror movie, over and over again. She ached for revenge. Sometimes she would fantasize about driving down the street and encountering Tommy Pigage, the man who killed her son. She would imagine hitting him with her car, pinning him up against a free, and watching him suffer in agony as she slowly crushed him to death.
She spent a lot of her spare time actually tracking Tommy to see if she could catch him violating the terms of his probation, so he would be sent to prison. Over time her bitterness and negative attitude began to drive a wedge between her and her husband. It began to chase away her friends. It drained away her ability to laugh and enjoy life.
And that’s the psychological reason why forgiveness makes so much sense. Arid bitterness inevitably seeps into the lives of people who harbor grudges and suppress anger; and bitterness is always a poison. It keeps your pain alive instead of letting you deal with it and get beyond it. Bitterness sentences you to relive the hurt over and over. Elizabeth described it as a cancer that was eating away at her from the inside.
She desperately wanted help, but it was some time before she discovered the only cure. Elizabeth came to the realization that her heavenly Father also had lost his only Son. And yet when Jesus was suffering on the cross—before he died as payment for Elizabeth’s own wrongdoing—he looked at the merciless soldiers who were in charge of torturing him and said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”6
That’s when Elizabeth knew it was time for her— as an act of her will—to offer forgiveness to the man who killed her only son. So that’s what she did. And over time as her attitude began to change, not only was she rescued

from her caustic bitterness but she and her husband were actually able to build a relationship with their son’s killer. In fact, it was their friendship that influenced Tommy Pigage to begin following Jesus and turn his life around.
As unbelievable as it sounds, Elizabeth’s husband, a part-time preacher ended up baptizing Tommy, and as Tommy emerged from beneath the water symbolizing the renewal of his life through Christ, they hugged and sobbed. Later he presided at Tommy’s wedding. Today the Morrises ride to church every Sunday with Tommy and his wife, and together they worship the God of the second chance.
How were the Morrises able to do all that?
Because their animosity toward Tommy, the killer, had been replaced by their acceptance of Tommy, the person who matters to God. And the result has been a personal peace that goes beyond human understanding.
“I can’t tell you how good it felt to get on with life, to laugh again, to finally shake free from that anchor of hate that weighed me down,” Elizabeth told me.7
That’s one of the greatest benefits of forgiving those who have harmed us.

In my conversations with Elizabeth Morris, she made a casual comment that seemed extreme at first but that I later came to recognize as being chillingly accurate. “I think in the long run,” she said, “it would have destroyed me if I hadn’t forgiven Tommy.”
By now I’ve seen enough scientific studies to conclude that bitterness and bottled-up anger don’t just mess with our minds but also threaten our very lives. Declared an article in

the New York Times, “Researchers have gathered a wealth of data lately suggesting that chronic anger is so damaging to the body that it ranks with—or even exceeds—cigarette smoking, obesity and a high-fat diet as a powerful risk factor for early death.”
In one study at the University of Michigan, a group of women was tested to see who was harboring long-term suppressed anger.
Then all the women were tracked for eighteen years, and the outcome was startling: the women with suppressed anger were three times more likely to have died during the study than those who didn’t have that kind of bitter hostility. A similar study was performed over twenty-five years on males who were graduates of the medical school at the University of North Carolina. The results showed that the physicians with hidden hostilities died at a rate that was six times greater than those who had more forgiving attitudes.
There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence, too. One woman who helped victims of German atrocities recover after World War II noticed an amazing phenomenon among her patients. Those who developed forgiving attitudes toward their enemies were able to rebuild their lives despite their injuries. But the patients who were steeped in bitterness remained invalids.
The medical evidence is clear and mounting. It’s no exaggeration to say that bitterness is a dangerous drug in any dosage and that your very health is at risk if you stubbornly persist in being unforgiving.

At the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, as the tension was building toward what could have been the outbreak of

World War III, Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev sent an urgent communiqué to President John F. Kennedy. In part, the message said,
You and I should not now pull on the ends of the rope in which you have tied a knot of war, because the harder you and I pull, the tighter the knot will become. And a time may come when this knot is tied so tight that the person who tied it is no longer capable of untying it, and then the knot will have to be cut. What that would mean I need not explain to you, because you yourself understand perfectly what dread forces our two countries possess.8
In effect, when you make the decision to return good for evil, you’re choosing to stop yanking on the rope of conflict and making the knot in your relationship so tight that it can never be untied. By simply dropping your end of the cord, you’re loosening the tension and preserving the possibility that the still- loose knot might somehow be untangled by the two of you. This maintains the hope—however faint—that reconciliation might someday occur.
As you think of the adversary whose face you’ve brought into your mind, you might be tempted to rule out any likelihood of ever having a civil relationship with him or her. But don’t write off anything too quickly.
“There were probably some Christians who hated Saul when he was filled with malice and breathing threats and murder against the church,” said David Dockery and David Garland in Seeking the Kingdom. “Who would have guessed that he would become the apostle Paul,.. preaching. .. love and forgiveness? The one who beats us as our enemy today may become our brother or sister tomorrow. Jesus says to treat them today as our brother and sister.”
Hatred writes people off; love holds out hope.

Jesus told the story of a king who decided to balance his books by collecting the money that people owed him. So he summoned a servant whose debt totaled ten million dollars, and sternly ordered him to pay up. The man pleaded poverty.
In those days, the king had the authority to sell a person and his family into slavery to recoup a debt, or to throw the debtor into prison until his relatives paid up. In this instance, when the king threatened to sell the servant, his family, and all his possessions as a way of regaining at least part of what was owed, the servant fell on his knees and pleaded, “Be patient with me, and I will pay back everything.”
Of course, there was no way he was ever going to come up with ten million dollars. But because the king was merciful and took pity on the begging servant, he did an amazing thing: he gave him a second chance. The debt was summarily wiped off the books.
But that’s not the end of the story. The servant, who should have been brimming with a grateful attitude, soon came across a fellow worker who owed him a paltry twenty dollars.
The forgiven servant demanded payment, clutching the debtor by the throat and choking him. “Be patient with me,” the man gasped, “and I will pay you back.” Sound familiar? But the first servant refused. Instead, he had the man thrown into prison to suffer until the debt was repaid.
When word of this encounter made its way back to the king, he was incensed. “You wicked servant,” he said to the worker he had forgiven. “I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?”

With righteous indignation the king then threw him into prison until he could repay the entire ten million dollars—which meant he was doomed to a lifetime in the dungeon.
Here’s the kicker: “This,” Jesus said, “is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”10
People who hear this story bristle at the fundamental unfairness of the man who had been forgiven much but who himself forgave nothing. His gross insensitivity violates our sense of equity and justice. Someone once called his actions “a moral monstrosity.”
Yet if the thought of someone acting so unjustly makes us angry, doesn’t it make sense that God would get upset with those who have received his priceless forgiveness but then harbor petty grudges against others, plot revenge against those who have harmed them, and adamantly refuse to forgive the wrongs of adversaries?
Jesus was very straightforward about this. After teaching his followers the Lord’s Prayer—which includes the request that God forgive our wrongdoing as we have forgiven our opponents—Jesus concludes by saying, “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”11
This means that an ongoing relationship with God can become severely strained by a refusal to extend forgiveness to those who have inflicted harm. People cannot be tightly connected with God, experience his favor flowing freely into their life, or have an optimal relationship with him, and at the same time be stubbornly unforgiving toward others. After all, think of what such people are doing trivializing the suffering that Jesus went through to extend his forgiveness to them.
So if you’re a follower of Jesus but you feel distance from him during this era of your life, if you’re

having difficulty resting easy in his forgiveness, could it be because you’re blatantly refusing to let go of your animosity toward another person—maybe even the very person I asked you to picture in your mind?

“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” Jesus asked.12 There’s nothing particularly commendable about loving those who already care about us. Everybody does that. But when someone offers love to a person who has been an enemy, the world takes notice. People are pointed toward God as being the only source of motivation for this kind of outrageous compassion.
People certainly took notice in April 1992, when a thirty- three-year old victim of a heinous crime appeared in an Indiana courtroom. The previous year, a twenty-two-year-old man had broken into her apartment, shot her in the chest, struck her with a revolver, sexually assaulted her, then put a pillow over her head and pulled the trigger once more. Miraculously she survived, because her forearm blocked the bullet.
The assailant was captured and convicted, and the victim was invited to speak at his sentencing. I’m sure that Judge Paula Lopassa expected her to angrily denounce this brutal defendant and indignantly demand the harshest possible penalty.
But the victim was a Christian, and although she said the defendant needed to be incarcerated as punishment and to protect society, she also told the judge, “I’m not after vengeance or retribution. They won’t change what’s happened, and they’ll only poison me. I want to help this man. He’s mildly retarded, he obviously needs help, and I want to make sure he gets that help for his own sake and so he can be a free man again someday. I don’t want him to suffer; I’ve suffered

enough for the both of us. I want what’s best for him. And, with God’s help, I want to forgive him.”
With that, tears began running down the judge’s face!
She actually broke down sobbing. I’ll tell you what. I’ve covered scores of criminal cases as a legal affairs journalist, but I’ve never seen a judge weep in open court.
When she regained her composure, Judge Lopassa said, “The reason I’m crying is because of her forgiving nature. It’s unusual for the victim of such a vicious crime to have such a forgiving attitude. And I think that she’s reflecting all the best that there is in human nature.”
This unexpected attitude of the crime victim pointed the judge and defendant toward God as being the only possible motivator for her compassionate response. As A. M. Hunter said, “To return evil for good is the devil’s way; to return good for good is man’s; to return good for evil is God’s.”

Forgiving enemies runs absolutely contrary to every impulse of human nature. When people are hit, their knee-jerk response is to hit back—harder. So if we’re going to try to follow this outlandish claim, we clearly need some help.
“If it is possible,” said the apostle Paul, “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”13 That’s God’s ultimate goal—peace, reconciliation, and community between people and between people and him. So I’m going to use the word peace and go through what I call the “P-E-A-C-E process”—a plan whose five steps each begin with a letter from that word.
But let me pause for a moment to explain something.
Throughout this book, I’m going to take time wherever possible to offer some action steps based on biblical teaching and my own experiences as a Christian. If we’re going to become more

like Jesus, it’s critically important that we get extremely practical by exploring the “how-to’s.” However, I don’t mean to suggest that we can solve everything if we just follow the right formula. These are merely steps that I’ve found helpful in my own spiritual life and that I hope you’ll experiment with. With that in mind, here’s the P-E-A-C-E process, an approach that has proven invaluable to me over the years as I’ve tried to follow God’s outrageous directive to love my enemies.

Seeking God’s Assistance
The P in P-E-A-C-E stands for Pray. That means, first, praying for ourselves, which involves going to God and honestly expressing our emotions, whether it’s to say, “I don’t feel like loving my opponent” or “I don’t know how to forgive my enemy” or “I’ll never be able to love my adversary unless you give me the power to do it”
If you’re having trouble letting go of your animosity or bitterness, tell God about it. Admit your reluctance and ask him to help you deal with your resentment, hostility, and anger. Ask God for the capacity to love the person you don’t even like.
This made all the difference to Adolph Coors IV, a member of the famous Colorado beverage family whose father was ambushed and murdered when Adolph was fourteen years old. Many years later Adolph became a follower of Jesus, and he realized he needed to forgive the man who had shown no mercy toward his dad.
“I knew I wasn’t capable of this kind of forgiveness,” Adolph said during a talk I heard a few years ago. “It was beyond me. But I found the answer in the Bible, in the fourth chapter of Philippians, the thirteenth verse, which assured, me that I could do all things through Jesus Christ, who gives me strength.”

Adolph found out that we can siphon strength from God to do what we know is right but which we lack the capacity to accomplish on our own. A lot of times that’s the only way we’re going to be capable of forgiving.
So Adolph brought the matter to God in prayer and made a decision of his will to take a concrete step toward forgiveness by driving toward the penitentiary to meet with his dad’s killer. By the time he got there, Christ had provided him with the strength he needed to follow through. And once Adolph managed to extend forgiveness to his father’s killer, his own emotional healing really began.
But in addition to praying for ourselves, we need to pray for our enemies, too. “Pray for those who persecute you,” urges Jesus.14 Ask God to safeguard their health, to bless their families, to encourage them, and to help them see their own need for God. “This is the supreme demand,” said Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Christian leader who suffered under the Nazis and was eventually executed. “Through the medium of prayer we go to our enemy, stand by his side, and plead for him to God.”
When you do that, here’s what you’ll discover: your attitude toward your opponent will begin to change. I’ve learned from firsthand experience that you can’t pray for people for very long and still hate them.
I remember being exasperated, as a newspaper editor by a problem employee who always seemed anxious to undercut my authority and challenge my leadership. After I caught myself becoming increasingly vengeful and spiteful toward him (which, incidentally, only escalated his own antipathy toward me), I decided to begin praying for him even though I didn’t feel like it at first.
Over time the very act of going before the Father on his behalf softened my attitude. As I prayed for his well-being, I

actually began to care deeply about him. And with that new attitude, I was able to start returning good for evil, and this is what eventually won him over.
So how about the adversary you have pictured in your mind? Can you begin praying for him or her? Or if you can’t quite bring yourself to do that yet, can you at least go to God and tell him that you’re going to need his strength to move toward forgiveness? This is a spiritual prerequisite to taking the next four steps.

Radically Shifting Our Perspective
The first E in P-E-A-C-E reminds us to Empathize with others, which means to see our enemy from a completely different perspective.
Normally, we evaluate the worth of people based on their relationship to us. Can they help us? Can they hurt us? But when we choose instead to see them from the perspective of their value to God, we begin to recognize that they have supreme worth because they bear God’s image, even though it’s distorted and obscured by sin. When we start seeing them as people who matter to God, they begin to matter more to us.
We don’t have to condone what they’ve done to us.
Certainly, Elizabeth Morris didn’t trivialize what Tommy Pigage did to her son. But what she did was to forgive Tommy Pigage, the person—she forgave him because he’s etched with the likeness of God and because he matters to God every bit as much as she does. She didn’t affirm what Tommy did but she affirmed him as an individual, the handiwork of the Creator of the universe.
William Barclay relates a wonderful rabbinic story that emphasizes how much God values all those he has created, even though they’ve strayed into sin. In this ancient tale, the angels of heaven begin to noisily rejoice as the waters of the

Red Sea cave in on the Egyptian soldiers and drown them as they pursue the Israelites. Amid their celebration, God lifts his hand to stop them. “The works of my hands are sunk in the sea,” God says sternly, “and you would sing?”15
The Bible confirms, in Ezekiel 33:11, that God takes no pleasure in the demise of evil people. So if God could have compassion toward those ill-intentioned Egyptians, pause for a moment and think about the opponent you’ve brought to mind. Ask yourself, “What does this person look like from God’s perspective?” Can you look beyond his or her behavior and get a glimpse of why he or she matters to God? As Rail Luther said, “To love one’s enemy does not mean to love the mire in which the pearl lies, but to love the pearl that lies in the mire.”

Dropping Our End of the Rope
We also need to take specific action steps to extend compassion to our opponents. That’s why the A in P-E-A-C- E stands for Act. The Bible says, “Do good to those who hate you.”16
If a business competitor beats you out for a contract, send a note offering your congratulations. If a former spouse falls on hard times, be generous in providing assistance. If your adversaries require help moving or fixing a flat tire or need to borrow something, go to their aid. I admit that these are outrageous responses, but they’re the very kind that God wants us to make.
In addition, taking a step of action also means calling a cease-fire in the war of words. “Bless those who curse you,” Jesus said.17 This means deciding that when another person shoots bitter words your way, you’ll fight the urge to retaliate, and instead respond with kind and considerate language. As difficult as it

seems, we need to resist the temptation to traffic in rumors, gossip, or unfair criticism.
So about that opponent in your mind: can you commit to keeping alert for opportunities to serve him or her? Can you drop your end of the rope in your verbal tug-of-war? Those acts of kindness go a long way toward dismantling barriers of animosity, because when we make the choice to act in someone’s best interests, over time we find that our hard-hearted viewpoint toward them—and their opinion of us—invariably begins to improve.
Sometimes we just can’t bring ourselves to take an action step of forgiveness. To do so, we need help from beyond ourselves. You’ll gain some practical assistance in the chapter entitled “Outrageous Claim #5: God Can Give You Power As Power Is Needed,” which deals with how we can tap into God’s power when we’re feeling particularly powerless to do what we know he wants us to do.

Owning Our Side of the Conflict
The C in P-E-A-C-E urges us to Confess: more often than not, we share part of the blame for pushing a person into the role of being our enemy. Sometimes it’s our own jealousy, our own stubbornness, our own ambition, or our own bad attitude that has contributed-
–at least in part—to the rift between us.
There is a direct connection between confession and healing.18 And when we objectively assess the situation and candidly admit to ourselves—and then to God and our adversary—that we share some of the blame, that can be a big step toward healing the effects of hate.
That’s what happened a few years ago in Mississippi, when a group of blacks and whites got together to engage in a constructive dialogue after years of suspicion and animosity between them. At one point a young black pastor stood. “There

have been nearly seven hundred lynching in the state of Mississippi, but I have never heard a white pastor preach against racism,” he said. “I need to know—why?”
Tension seized the room. Finally an older white pastor stood. He could have angrily tried to defend his record. He could have engaged in an elaborate rationalization. He could have stubbornly denied doing anything wrong.
But instead he said, “I guess that question falls to me. To tell you the truth, it was fear. I was just afraid. We were afraid—afraid of our people and of the consequences. So we just stood by. And the truth is, I don’t know how to make it right. I’d like to go back, but we can’t. All I can do is tell you— I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
With that the two former adversaries walked toward each other and embraced. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. And God was pleased.
Few things accelerate the peace process as much as humbly admitting our own wrongdoing and asking forgiveness. That tells our adversaries that we’re so serious about dealing honorably with the friction between us that we’re willing to go beyond pride and self-interest to confess that yes, we do own some of the responsibility for the rift.
What about the adversary in your mind? Be honest: are you at least partly responsible for the conflict between you?
And if you are, shouldn’t you take the step of seeking forgiveness for that?

Looking for an Example
The apostle Paul urged, “Be imitators of God,”19 and so the second E in P-E-A-C-E represents the word Emulate. Whenever we’re not sure how to love an enemy, whenever we hesitate because we’re perplexed over how to proceed, whenever we wonder if we’ve gone far

enough in our effort to reconcile, we can look at the example of Jesus and model ourselves after him. He set the ultimate standard, as illustrated by this compelling observation from British pastor John Stott:

Jesus seems to have prayed for his tormentors actually while the iron spikes were being driven through his hands and feet; indeed, the imperfect tense (of the biblical account) suggests that he kept praying, kept repeating his entreaty “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” If the cruel torture of crucifixion could not silence our Lord’s prayer for his enemies, what pain, pride, prejudice, or sloth could justify the silencing of ours?20

We cannot excuse ourselves by claiming that Jesus is divine and that therefore we can never be expected in our human nature to be as generous with our forgiveness as he is. For when the bloodied apostle Stephen was being brutally stoned to death after having proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, his last words as he fell to his knees were, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”21
How was Stephen able to so magnanimously forgive the very people who were hurling rocks at him? There’s a clue a few verses earlier: Stephen was empowered by the Holy Spirit.22
The only way we can ever really emulate Christ is by yielding ourselves to the Spirit’s influence in our life and allowing him to produce the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that the Bible promises he will manifest over time in the followers of Jesus?23

Jesus’ teaching about forgiving our enemies is among his most challenging and difficult. In fact, someone once said that if forgiving your enemies comes too easily you probably haven’t forgiven them at all. You’ve just mouthed hollow words, and you haven’t actually invited your heart to change.
So as you struggle to implement his instructions, as I have in my own life, I hope the P-E-A-C-E process will prove helpful. But we’re not finished yet. We haven’t explored all the important aspects of this outrageous claim.
When I was studying journalism at the University of Missouri, my professors drilled into me the six basic questions that a reporter asks in pursuing any story: who, what, where, when, why, and how. And spiritually speaking, those are good questions to ask ourselves as well.
We’ve already looked at who our enemies are, what we are being asked to do, why this outrageous claim makes sense, and how we can implement forgiveness through the P-E-A-C- E process. However, that leaves us with two questions—when and where. But I’m going to reserve those for you to answer.
So here’s your assignment one more time, bring that adversary your mind. Can you picture the person face? Now, the rest is up to you, along with God’s enabling power and presence in your life. You decide when and where you’re going to implement the P-E-A-C-E process with them—for your own sake, for their sake, and for the sake of God’s kingdom. (9-25)


  1. Matthew 5:43-44 (NIV)
  2. Luke 11:4 (NIV)
  3. Terry Anderson, “Small Graces,” Guideposts (September 1993), 2—5, emphasis added. For a more complete

account, see Anderson’s book Den of Lions: Memoirs of Seven Years (New York: Crown, 1993)

  1. Romans 5:8 (NIV)
  2. Proverbs 23:7 NASB
  3. Luke 23:34 (NIV)
  4. For more complete accounts of the story of the Morrises and Tommy Pigage, see “Could They Forgive Their Son’s Killer?” Reader’s Digest (May 1986), 136-40 and “Seventy Times Seven,” Guideposts (January 1986), 2- 6
  5. Robert Smith Thompson, The Missiles of October (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992), 320—21
  6. David S. Dockery and David B. Garland, Seeking the Kingdom (Wheaton, Ill.: Harold Shaw, 1992), 68
  7. Matthew 18:23-35 (NIV)
  8. Matthew 6:15 (NIV)
  9. Matthew 5:46 (NIV)
  10. Romans 12:18 (NIV)
  11. Matthew 5:44 (NIV)
  12. William Barclay. The Gospel of Matthew, vol.1 (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975), 176
  13. Luke 6:27 (NIV)
  14. Luke 6.28 (NIV)
  15. James 5:16 (NIV)
  16. Ephesians 5:1 (NIV)
  17. John Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Downer’s Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1985), 119, emphasis added.
  18. Acts 7:60 (NIV)
  19. Acts 7:55
  20. Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

Appendix 20

Forgiveness Comes Before Healing By Dr Michelle K Strydom
All the passages below are taken from Dr Michelle K Strydom book, “Healing begins with the Sanctification of the Heart—No Disease is Incurable.” The fourth edition is published in 2013 and it can be downloaded free in the link below: begins-with-sanctification-of-the-heart-4th-edition/

Forgiveness – A Necessity for Healing
A man who was bitten by a dog went to the doctor because he started experiencing strange symptoms. After examining him, the doctor said to the man, “I’m sorry, it’s too late – you already have rabies.” The man nonchalantly replied, “I thought as much,” He then pulled out a pen and paper and began furiously writing something. Curious, the doctor said to him, “Don’t tell me you are writing out your will now? You should have done that long ago!”
The man explained, “No I’m not writing out my will, I’m writing a list of the people that I want to bite before I die!” The man in that story had bitterness and unforgiveness! As you read through this chapter, begin to think about who it is that has hurt you, harmed you, abused you, humiliated you, falsely accused you, lied about you or made you feel unworthy. What happened in the past that still creates feelings of pain, anger, rage, resentment and bitterness when you remember it?

Hebrews 12:15, “Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessings), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it.”

Bitterness, like battery acid, corrodes and eats away at your soul. It poisons first your mind and then your body with disease.
This is a teaching on bitterness as explained by Henry Wright in his book “A More Excellent Way. A Teaching On The Spiritual Roots of Disease”:

Bitterness is a principality and under it and answering to it are seven spirits that reinforce bitterness:

  1. Unforgiveness
    This is how bitterness first gets a foot hold. You begin to keep a record of wrongs and you carry un- forgiveness in your heart. You say to yourself, “I am not prepared to forgive you and I am going to remember what you did to me.” You think on all the wrong things that have been done to you and every time that person’s face comes to your mind, that high octane ping goes off inside of you. This unforgiveness invites the next six spirits to become a part of your life:
  2. Resentment
    Resentment develops as you continue to meditate on that record of wrongs and fume and steam internally over it. The thorn tree that I spoke about in the chapter “Essential Background Knowledge of Disease from a Medical Perspective” is beginning to grow in your brain and secrete chemicals that putting your body into a toxic state of dis-ease. Those chemicals are carrying negative emotion and that is you have that bad feeling in your gut every time that person comes to your mind. Resentment keeps the unforgiveness in place.
  3. Retaliation
    After the resentment has been simmering for a while, the steam builds up and you start thinking of ways to get even with that person. They must pay for what they did.
  4. Anger
    Un-forgiveness, resentment and retaliation has been building up and now you are very, very angry. The pressure cooker is really going and adding fuel to the fire. This anger is both seen and felt.
  5. Hatred
    Now that you are angry, hatred gets a foothold. You are saying, “I remember what you did to me. I have really been meditating on it and I really resent it. I’m going to get even with you and make you pay.” At this stage hatred begins to say, “You do not deserve to exist. There is no room on this earth for you and me to both be at the same place at the same time.” Hatred starts to go into the elimination mode.
  6. Violence
    Hatred fuels violence. Violence says, “Before I eliminate you, you are going to feel my pain.” Violence is anger and hatred in action. It can take the form of verbal, emotional, physical or sexual abuse.
  7. Murder
    Once violence erupts, the final fruit of bitterness is murder. This can be literal physical murder, premeditated murder which is murder of the heart or murder with the tongue which is gossip, slander or character trashing. When hatred, violence and murder are in a person’s life, they feel they are justified and that person is going to pay the price. Unfortunately the person does not realize that by this stage the devil has managed to get in and alter his body chemistry, causing diseases like cancer that are resulting in death of his own body.
    If any one of these seven areas that answer to bitterness are present, the preceding ones are usually also there, and if they are not dealt with, all the rest will surely come. For example, if the person has hatred in his heart, un-forgiveness, resentment, retaliation and anger will also be there. You will not be able to remove bitterness from your life until you deal with un-forgiveness, resentment, retaliation, anger, hatred, violence and murder behind it.

Why is Bitterness Sin?
Romans 12:19-21; “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath;

for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome (master) evil with good.”
Isaiah 54:17: “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that rises up against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security and triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification], says the Lord.”

Zechariah 2:8 says that he who touches you touches the apple of God’s eye. When somebody wrongs you, those two scriptures above are God’s promise to you so long as you keep your heart right with Him. When you choose to forgive and overcome evil with good, you open the way for God’s wrath and you allow Him to repay the evil that was done to you and to be your vindicator. However when you put yourself in God’s shoes and become your own vindicator and the judge of others, you are in disobedience to scripture and you will reap the consequences of that:

Matthew 7:1-3, “ Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will

be dealt out against you. Why do you stare from without at the very small particle that is in your brother’s eye but do not become aware of and consider the beam of timber that is in your own eye?”

There are worse consequences to bitterness than diseases such as cancer – you put yourself in danger of spending eternity in hell because God gave a very clear warning in His Word that if you will not forgive others, He will not forgive you.

Forgiveness – The Missing Link
Mark 11:22-24, “And Jesus, replying, said to them, Have faith in God [constantly], Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! And does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will get it.”

We have all been taught this scripture many times in churches all over the world today where they say that believing will guarantee receiving. If you confess it, provided you have enough faith, you will get it. There are so many Christians who have become so confused and disillusioned with the faith messages and name it and claim it teachings because it is still not working. When the person in this church circus is not receiving the object of their belief, they are simply told that they did not have enough faith. . .and then you talk about hopelessness! Faith isn’t even the issue. It is not working because this scripture has been taken out of context. If you want to understand the intent of the author

you have got to read Mark 11:22-24 in context. If you are going to apply the Word of God, apply the whole Word of God, not just the part that feels good. There’s more to the Bible than promises and blessings – there’s also conditions and there’s reproof. What has happened to us in the healing ministry is we have hung our hat on a few scriptures to the exclusion of the rest of the Truth in the Word.
How many times have you tried to pray the prayer of faith and speak to your mountain and claim God’s promises and you never received anything? Did you ever wonder why? Well I hope by this point in your journey through this book that you are beginning to understand why. I’m going to show you the missing link to receiving which is found in the verses following Mark 11:22-24 and it is taught by very few people anywhere in the world because they are so busy preaching about God’s blessings and His promises.

Mark 11:25-26: “And whenever you stand praying (praying what? speaking to the mountain as
it says in Mark 11:22, not doubting in your heart, believing that those things which you say shall come to pass and you shall receive the things that you are believing for), if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your failings and shortcomings.”
(*Note: In the NIV translations of the Bible, Mark 11:26 has been taken out – I explain why on page 101)

So verses 25 and 26 in Mark 11 are a continuation of verses 22 to 24: In context these scriptures say, “And when

you stand praying, forgive.” This is never attached to the faith sermons and “Name it and Claim it” teachings. There are no conditions being offered except that you must have enough faith.
Without mastering this issue of forgiveness, I am wasting my time trying to help you get well from your biological and psychological diseases. Forgiveness is a big missing link in healing. I will tell you emphatically that forgiveness is a prerequisite to all healing. There’s just no way around it. The promise of healing and divine health is yours as a child of God (Isaiah 53:5). However, with every promise God has a condition. You can’t claim His promises without being prepared to meet His conditions. I explained to you in the chapter “Essential background knowledge of disease from a Biblical Perspective” that the condition for healing is repentance. Repentance involves asking God to forgive you for the sin that caused your disease. When you repent to God for serving the sin that caused your disease, do you think He will forgive you and heal you? The answer is – it depends. You see, God’s forgiveness for you is conditional. The Bible tells you very clearly that you cannot ask God to forgive you, if you are not prepared to forgive all those who have hurt you and wronged you. Unforgiveness is a major block to healing and it is one of the reasons why our churches are filled with disease.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their wreckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment],

neither will your Heavenly Father forgive your trespasses.”

Imagine the condition your life would be in if God refused to forgive you? You would be cut off from a relationship with Him and everything in your life would be a miserable mess of poverty and disease – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, financially and physically. We like to think that we can stay angry with other people and yet go to God and receive forgiveness for our sins. But the Lord tells us in Matthew 6:14-15 that this is not so. God’s forgiveness for you is in direct relationship to how you forgive your brother.

Jesus taught us how to pray in Mathew 6:12, “Father forgive us our debts, as we have also forgiven (left remitted and let go of the debts and have given up resentment against) our debtors.” God is a God of mercy (Psalm 57:10; Psalm 86:15) and this issue of forgiveness is very important to Him. Henry Wright teaches that as a believer you will not get anything from Heaven that you are not prepared to give away to others. So if you want to have forgiveness, you are going to have to give it away also. God tells us repeatedly in His Word that if we want mercy, we have to give mercy.

Mathew 5:7: “Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous – with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favour and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy!”
Mathew 18:21-22: “Then Peter came up to Him and said, Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as]

up to seven times? Jesus answered him, I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven!”

I don’t know about you but I am personally very glad that God does not put a limit on how many times He forgives me. How many times have you done the same wrong thing at least seventy times seven, and God still forgave you for it? We are often willing to keep receiving and receiving forgiveness from God, but it is amazing how little we want to extend forgiveness to others. We freely accept mercy, yet it is surprising how rigid, legalistic and merciless we can be toward others, especially if they have wronged or hurt us in some way. Yet the Bible says that the debt we owe God is much greater than any debt anyone may owe us.

Matthew 18:23-35, “Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a human king who wished to settle accounts with his attendants. When he began the accounting, one was brought to him who owed him 10 000 talents (probably about $10,000,000], And because he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and everything that he possessed, and payment to be made. So the attendant fell on his knees, begging him, Have patience with me and I will pay you everything. And his master’s heart was moved with compassion, and he released him and forgave him [cancelling] the debt. But the same attendant, as he went out, found one of his fellow attendants who owed him a hundred denarii [about $20 dollars]; and he caught him by the throat and said, Pay what you owe! So his fellow attendant fell down and begged him earnestly, Give me time, and I will pay you all! But he was unwilling, and he went out and had him

put in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow attendants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and told everything that had taken place to their master. Then his master called him and said to him, You contemptible, and wicked attendant! I forgave you and cancelled all that [great] debt of yours because you begged me to. And should you not have had pity and mercy on your fellow attendant, as I had pity and mercy on you? And in wrath his master turned him over to the torturers (the jailers), till he should pay all that he owed. So also My heavenly Father will deal with every one of you if you do not freely forgive your brother from your heart his offenses.”

It is sometimes very difficult to forgive someone, especially when they have abused, repeatedly hurt or offended us. If there is someone you are having a hard time forgiving, remember God’s mercy and grace and forgiveness towards you. As you have received forgiveness, you are called to extend forgiveness.
Unforgiveness is a luxury of the flesh. It makes your flesh feel good at the time, but it will literally destroy you spiritually and physically. It is a luxury you cannot afford to have. If you want to hold onto your offense, resentment and un-forgiveness – you must also be prepared to hold on to and live with your illness. Many people can’t understand why their prayers for healing aren’t answered. . .yet they have un-forgiveness in their heart. There are people who go up for prayer every Sunday after church, month after month, year after year and still can’t get free of their bondage. They have fasted and prayed but the harder they try the more bondage they find themselves. Their prayers seem to be hitting a brick wall and the skies of heaven seem to be closed to their prayers.

I had a lady come to me for help with a skin rash that covered her body. She could hardly live with herself for the itchiness and discomfort of it and it had been there for over 2 months. She had been to several doctors and skin specialists. They prescribed various types of anti-histamine and corticosteroid creams but nothing helped her much. I spent time explaining to her that her skin rash was a consequence of fear, anxiety and stress in her thought life. She repented of this. However, the skin rash did not go away. You see a great source of her stress had been because a man that she had trusted had squandered her money which her mother had left her as part of her inheritance. She was understandably very angry with him. However this un-forgiveness blocked her healing and I explained this to her. So she forgave the man be fore God and sent him an email telling him that she had forgiven him. Immediately the rash disintegrated to a few spots here and there on her body, and by the next morning it was completely gone.

Your Healing Hinges on Your Forgiveness
Many people have already made up their minds and have completely justified their feelings of unforgiveness or resentment. They say things like, “I have every right to…” or “It was his fault, he is so in the wrong…” Was Jesus wronged? He was the only one who never sinned and never did any wrong to anyone. He was completely right! Yet He still said, “Father, forgive them” as He died on the cross. In Acts 7:50-60 we read about how Steven was stoned to death for witnessing about God:

Acts 7:55, 59 and 60: “But he, full of the Holy Spirit and controlled by Him, gazed into heaven and saw the glory (the splendor and majesty) of God, and Jesus

standing at God’s right hand; And while they were
stoning Stephen, he prayed, Lord Jesus, receive and accept and welcome my spirit! And falling on his knees, he cried out loudly, Lord, fix not this sin upon them [lay it not to their charge]! And when he said this, he fell asleep in death].”

Wow! Did they do Stephen wrong? Certainly they did! He was the only one in the crowd who was right, yet as they stoned him to death, Stephen cried out to God, “Forgive them!” Wow! What I want you to understand is that it makes no difference who was right or wrong, that is totally irrelevant. What is important is that you are the forgiver. It is important that you get your own heart right with God. You don’t have to prove that you are right, you have to prove that you are willing to forgive. Your flesh wants to hold onto that un-forgiveness because it wants justice but the Bible says that it is
God who vindicates us (Isaiah 54:17).
You don’t have to carry someone else’s sin inside you. That’s their sin. God will be their judge. Your job is to release and forgive them. Your freedom, spiritually and physically does not depend on their resolution – it depends on your resolution between you and God. If it is possible for you to go and make peace with that person, please do so. Romans 12:18, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” But if it is not possible because the person is not willing to restore the relationship or even talk to you, the person has died or you don’t know where the person is, never mind – what is important is that you get your own heart right with God.
If you have something from your past and it is not possible for you to make right with the other person, you just

need to make it right with God and it is dealt with because God judges it by the integrity of your heart. You don’t have to carry the guilt any longer. If somebody is holding a sin against you it is their problem, not yours. They have to get right with God just as you do. Whether they do or don’t doesn’t have anything to do with you because you stand alone before God in the integrity of your heart.
You don’t have to have it resolved with that person in order to be free.
To be able to receive complete healing of your illness, you are going to have to make peace in your heart with every person that you have ever known and have it resolved before God concerning them. You don’t forgive people who have hurt you because you feel like it. You need to forgive them as an act of your will in obedience to God and His Word. Forgiveness is not a ritual performance: You don’t need to do it from an intellectual standpoint or because it’s a law – but do it from your heart: Forgiveness is an attitude of your heart towards others in love.

Forgiveness is Not a Feeling, it is a Decision – An Act of Your Will
When you forgive others, you are not letting them off the hook, but you are giving them to God, still wriggling on the hook. You are now off the hook. When you forgive someone, you have got to separate the person from their sin, just as God separated you from your sin in His heart when He saved you. To forgive you don’t have to condone their sin. You continue to hate the sin, but you are commanded to love the person.

It doesn’t just stop at forgiveness, Jesus calls us much higher than that: Luke 6:27-38, “But I say to you who are listening now to Me: [in order to heed, make it a practice to] love your enemies, treat well (do good to, act nobly toward) those who detest you and pursue you with hatred, Invoke blessings upon and pray for the happiness of those who curse you, implore God’s blessing (favor) upon those who abuse you [who revile, reproach, disparage, and high handedly misuse you]. To the one who strikes you on the jaw or cheek, offer the other jaw or cheek also; and from him who takes away your outer garment, do not withhold your undergarment as well. Give away to everyone who begs of you [who is in want of necessities], and of him who takes away from you your goods, do not demand or require them back again, And as you would like and desire that men would do to you, do exactly so to them. If you [merely] love those who love you, what quality of credit and thanks is that to you? For even the [very] sinners love their lovers (those who love them). And if you are kind and good and do favors to and benefit those who are kind and good and do favors to and benefit you, what quality of credit and thanks is that to you? For even the pre- eminently simple do the same. And if you lend money at interest to those whom you would hope to receive, what quality of credit and thanks is that to you? Even notorious sinners lend money at interest to sinners, so as to recover as much again. But love your enemies and be kind and do good [doing favors so that someone derives benefit from them] and lend, expecting and hoping for nothing in return but considering nothing as lost and despairing of no one; and then your recompense (your reward) will be great (rich, strong, intense and abundant), and you will be sons of the Most

High, for He is kind and charitable and good to the ungrateful and the selfish and the wicked. So be merciful (sympathetic, tender, responsive, and compassionate) even as your Father is [all these]. Judge not [neither pronouncing judgment nor subjecting to censure], and you will not be judged; do not condemn and pronounce guilty, and you will not be condemned and pronounced guilty; acquit and forgive and release (give up resentment, let it drop), and you will be acquitted and forgiven and released. Give and [gifts] will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will they pour into [the pouch formed by] the bosom [of your robe and used as a bag]. For with the measure you deal out [with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others], it will be measured back to you.”

Something is missing when you say that you forgive those who have hurt and offended you and go no further. Joyce Meyer once asked the Lord, “Father, why is it that people come to our church services and pray for the ability to forgive, and yet in just a short time they are right back again still having the same problems with bitterness, anger, and hypersensitivity?” The Lord showed her that these types of people are not doing what He instructs in His Word. You see, God tells us in His Word to forgive others – but He does not stop there. He goes on to instruct you to love and bless them. In this context, the word “bless” means to “speak well of”. So one of our problems is though we pray and try to forgive those who offend us, we turn right around and curse them with our tongue or we rehash the offense again and again with others. Sorry, but this will not work! It is not enough to merely say that you forgive others; you must be careful not to

curse them or speak evil of them even if you think they deserve it.
To work through the process of forgiveness and enjoy the peace and wholeness in health that you seek, you must do what God tells you to do, which is not only to forgive, but to go beyond that: Jesus challenged you to pray for them, bless them, speak well of them and love them. Why? Because by doing so, you bless not only them, but yourself too! Jesus said in Luke 6:35 that your reward for your obedience in this area will be great, rich, strong, intense and abundant, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over. . .this includes your physical health.
Hating those who hurt you is like drinking poison yourself, but hoping that your enemy will die. Obviously anyone who did that would only be destroying himself. Why spend your life angry at people who probably do not even know or care that you are angry? These people are going on enjoying their lives while you are thoroughly miserable. You don’t have to allow somebody else’s sin to ruin your life. Release them, forgive them, let the offense go, let it drop. Have the same attitude that Jesus had toward His enemies. By doing this, you will experience wonderful freedom, peace, good health and God will show Himself strong as your Vindicator.
When you have bitterness and un-forgiveness you have a memory in your brain that looks like a thorn tree. Those thorns secrete toxic chemicals that make you sick. They also prevent you from being able to renew your mind because science has shown that you cannot build a new healthy memory over a toxic thorn tree.2 That is why you cannot recover from a disease, regardless of what disease it is, if you have toxic thorn

trees of unforgiveness in your brain. That is why unforgiveness is a major block to healing. However when you choose to release that bitterness by truly forgiving the person from your heart, you grow a new healthy memory or lush tree. This lush tree produces healthy chemicals that flow through those old thorn trees and literally physically removes those thorns. The memory will still be there so you will still remember what the person did to you but it won’t affect you.
You’re no longer carrying the burden of hurt, hate and bitterness in your life. That high-octane ping will be gone and it will not cause sickness in your body.
If through reading this book, I have managed to show you that you have a disease because you have been serving sin in a specific area and you are in a place where you are ready to repent for participation with that sin, I really want God to forgive you. However it is conditional because you don’t receive forgiveness from God if you don’t give forgiveness to your brother. Therefore before you go to God to repent of the sin behind your disease, you need to do an exercise where you forgive everybody who has hurt or wronged you whether they are living or dead.
So take a moment now to be quiet and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you who it is that you need to forgive. He knows your heart better than you do, so listen and be sensitive to His promptings, as He brings the names of people to your mind. Who is it that when you think of them, that high octane ping goes off inside you, your stomach turns and the hairs on your back stand up? Release them and let them go. All the verbal abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, legalism, control, rejection and betrayal that you have suffered… let it all go. If possible, listen to track 3 on

the CD in a quiet place with your eyes closed and allow the Lord to minister to your heart.

I encourage you to pray a prayer that goes something like this:
“Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray that Your Holy Spirit would minister into my life right now. Look into the depths of my heart and reveal to me where there is hardness, un-forgiveness, bitterness and resentment or anything against anybody. Please bring their names to my heart right now by the power of Your Holy Spirit. I repent to You Father for sometimes repaying evil with evil and feeling justified by it. I thought I was protecting myself when in fact I was behaving no different than the person that did evil to me. Father I repent for participating with the sin of bitterness and unforgiveness. As an act of my will in obedience to you, I choose to forgive (name the person and what they did). I am trusting you to make my forgiveness heartfelt – to forgive completely just like You do, without looking back. Please take the hardness of my heart and soften it with Your love. I pray that Your forgiveness would flow through me. Thank You for the work that You are doing in my heart right now”

You may need to forgive the church. In fact, 99% of the people in the church have been injured, damaged or hurt by spiritual leadership since they were born again. . .forgive them and let it go. If you are discouraged with the Christian church, I’d like to say that God is not the Christian church. Those pastors and leaders are just men. Often they don’t understand

what being a pastor is all about because they have their own personal agendas, they are full of selfish ambition, they want kingdoms and empires, they want to rule and you became expendable to their system. Well so what, that’s their sin. God will confront them at the judgement seat of Christ, you just let it go. Don’t be discouraged by humans or stumble over somebody else’s failure. Get your eyes off people and pastors who are weak and who have failed you. Get back up and get on with God.

Note: You do not have to resolve a single issue with somebody that has victimized you in order for God to heal you, so long as you have resolved that issue between you and God concerning them. You don’t have to wait for resolution between that person and you before you get healed – that is just binding you to the tragedy and victimization.

The next area where forgiveness may be needed is that you may need to forgive yourself. Bitterness is not always about others. We can get into condemnation, guilt and shame about ourselves. We often speak of forgiving others, but do you have un- forgiveness and resentment towards yourself? Are you holding yourself guilty about an issue from the past?
If you are struggling with guilt and unforgiveness towards yourself, I recommend that you refresh your memory by reading through “The Day Sanctification Begins” on page 115 because the teaching in that section will greatly help you in this area.
Remember I explained that you need to discern the source of your thoughts (page 84)? Those feelings of unforgiveness that you have towards yourself aren’t even your thoughts and feelings. It is an accusing spirit (Relations 12:10) of self-hatred and self-rejection that

accuses you to yourself with thoughts in the first person – you believed its lies and you’ve made it part of your thinking as if it was you. Remember your battle is not with flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12) and therefore your battle is not with yourself. You have to forgive yourself – you don’t have an option because the diseases that come from self-hatred and guilt lead to death and it is just not worth it to believe the devil’s lies.
I want you to say this out loud, “I am not guilty!” Some people are so deep into guilt and self-hatred that the accusing spirit attached to them will not allow them to say it because the minute they get it out and say, “I am not guilty” that lying spirit is defeated.
I encourage you to say this to yourself, “I’m not guilty. I became one with sin as if it were me and have been blaming myself and have been bitter against myself all these years. I’ve felt guilty, unworthy, ashamed and inferior and have compared myself to others. I repent Father for bitterness and unforgiveness towards myself and I forgive myself. I command the accusing spirit of self-hatred, self-rejection and guilt to be gone out of my life in the Name of Jesus.” It is as simple as that. You may need to have a renewing of the mind to apprehend that over the next month.
Are you angry with God? The amount of people who have unforgiveness towards God the Father is incredible. Many people are harbouring resentment and bitterness toward God because they blame Him for a disappointment or tragic situation or for something that did not work out the way they expected. The devil wants you to blame God because He wants to create a rift and a separation in your relationship with Him. This will steal your joy, love and passion for Him, and it

opens the door to the devil in your life. If you have anger, un-forgiveness and bitterness in your heart against God, give it up and let it go. He is not guilty, He is a good Father. God is your friend, not your enemy. Do not turn away from the only One Who can help you and give you life, real peace and joy.
If you are angry or have been upset with God, I encourage you to pray this pray with me so that you can be released from the harsh results of un-forgiveness and bitterness that you may have directed toward Him: “God, I have held anger against You. I know that You have done nothing wrong, and I am in need of Your forgiveness. But I believe that my saying, “I forgive You” will help me to let go of un-forgiveness that I have misdirected towards You. I forgive You. My problems are not Your fault. You are my answer.”
You have got to come to the place where you forgive God, yourself and others before you ever go to the Throne to repent and ask for healing of a disease.
It is important to understand that these prayers given here are just a guide to help you. If you are just doing this to go through the motions because you want your healing for selfish reasons and you are using this as a system or mechanism, you are wasting your time. God is not interested in rote words – He’s looking into your heart and that is where your repentance and forgiveness must come from.

Ephesians 6:6, “Not with eye service, as men- pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” KJV
Matthew 18:35, “So also My heavenly Father will deal with every one of you if you do not freely forgive your brother from your heart his offences.”

Remember, God’s perfect will is not healing, it is prevention of disease. If you want to enjoy the abundant life of divine health that Jesus died to give you (John 10:10; Isaiah 53:5), you have got to continually practice a habit of forgiveness. I am not going to die because of other people’s sin. I refuse to take other people’s sin into my life any longer. I have decided to forgive all sins of all humans all the time. I don’t care what you say or what you do to me or don’t do to me – I’m going to forgive you and that makes me a doer of the Word. [630-639]

Dr Michelle K Strydom has summarized her ideas from her book into 22 video tapes below. I would recommend that you listen to tapes 21 and 22 if you do not have the time to listen to all the tapes.

No Disease is incurable Session 1—Your amazing Brain

No Disease is incurable Session 2—Introduction

No Disease is incurable Session 3—The 3 Stages of Stress

No Disease is incurable Session 4—Allergies

No Disease is incurable Session 5—A Journey through the Bible to find out the cause of Diseases

No Disease is incurable Session 6—Low Self-Esteem

No Disease is incurable Session 7—Relationship Breakdowns

No Disease is incurable Session 8—The Great Physician

No Disease is incurable Session 9—God’s Perfect Will is that you don’t get sick

No Disease is incurable Session 10—The Great Deception of Prescription Drugs

No Disease is incurable Session 11—Discerning the Source of your thoughts

No Disease is incurable Session 12—Why we need Sanctification after Salvation

No Disease is incurable Session 13—Life Threatening Mindsets

No Disease is incurable Session 14—Genetically Inherited Diseases

No Disease is incurable Session 15—An Intelligence that Defies Imagination Part 1

No Disease is incurable Session 16— An Intelligence that Defies Imagination Part 2

No Disease is incurable Session 17—Discover your incredible Potential—who you are in Christ

No Disease is incurable Session 18—The Healing Power of Forgiveness

No Disease is incurable Session 19—Dealing with Fear, Anxiety and Stress

No Disease is incurable Session 20—The Gift of Miracles

No Disease is incurable Session 21—How to Detox your Brain Part 1

No Disease is incurable Session 22— How to Detox your Brain Part 2

Appendix 21
Who I am in Christ by Michelle K Strydom
It is vitally crucial that I see myself as God sees me!!!

  1. I am a new creation in Christ. (2 Cor 5:17).
  2. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Ps 139).
  3. I am God’s child. (Romans 8:15-16).
  4. I am blessed and I am God’s favorite. (Gal 3:9).
  5. I am the apple of God’s eye and my name is inscribed on the palm of His hand. (Zechariah 2:8; Psalm 17:8; Isaiah 49:16).
  6. I am set free. (John 8:36; Gal 5:1; John 8:31-34).
  7. I am stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13).
  8. I am complete in Him. (Colossians 2:10).
  9. I am established to the end. (1 Corinthians 1:8).
  10. I am holy and blameless in God’s sight, even above reproach, before Him in love. (Eph 1:4).
  11. I am born again of the Incorruptible seed of the living Word of God that endures forever. (1 Peter 1: 23).
  12. I am forgiven of all my sins and the blood of Jesus has washed away my guilt and shame. (Eph 1:4 & 7; 1 Jn 2:12; 1 Jn 1:9; Col 1:14).
  13. I have full access to the Father. (Ephesians 2:18) and can fearlessly, confidently and boldly draw near to His throne. (Hebrews 4:16).
  14. I am the righteousness of God, which means that I am approved, acceptable and in right relationship with Him (Romans 8:21).
  15. There is now no condemnation for me in Christ. (Romans 8:1). Therefore I accept myself, and love who I am and the way I am made.
  16. I am being changed into His image and He Who began this good work in me will bring it to completion. (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 1:6)
  17. I am God’s workmanship, recreated in Christ for good works. (Ephesians 2:10).
  18. I was chosen by God before the foundation of the world to be set apart for Him. (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; John 15:16).
  19. I am blessed with every spiritual blessing that heaven has to offer. (Ephesians 1:3).
  20. I have been given all things that pertain to life and godliness and I am a partaker of His divine nature. (2 Peter 1:3-4).
  21. God accepts and approves of me. (Jeremiah 1:5).
  22. I am an ambassador for Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:20).
  23. As Jesus is, so am I in this world (1 John 4:17) and the immeasurable, unlimited and surpassing power of God is on the inside of me! (Ephesians 1:19).
  24. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in me! (Ephesians 1:20).
  25. I have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5).
  26. I am a joint heir with Christ and He has qualified me to share in His inheritance. (Romans 8:17; Colossians 1:12; Ephesians 1:11).
  27. Father, I am who You say I am: I am called by God. (2 Timothy 1:9).
  28. I am a precious woman (or man) of great value and worth because Jesus, the King of kings, died and paid a great price for me. I am a royal daughter (or son) for I have a crown of glory and honor on my head, and I am wearing Jesus’ royal robe of righteousness. (Isaiah 61:10; Psalm 8:5).
  29. I am firmly rooted, built up and established in my faith (Colossians 2:7) and I have faith that can move mountains. (Mathew 16:20).
  30. Father, I can do what You say I can do: I am a victorious over-comer (1 John 5:4; Revelations 2:11), a mighty woman (or man) of valor a champion overcoming warrior, who possesses dignity and honor. (Judges 6:12).
  31. I am more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:35).
  32. All circumstances are under my feet. (Psalm 8:6).
  33. In all things I gain a surpassing victory (Rom 8:37) and in all things God leads me to triumph in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:14).
  34. Through my union with God, I am strong in the Lord and the power of His might. (Ephesians 6:10).
  35. God has given me a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
  36. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me. (Philippians 4:13)
  37. I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me. I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency. (Philippians 4:13).
  38. Everything I put my hand to prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3).
  39. I am the head and not the tail, above only and not beneath. (Deuteronomy 28:13).
  40. Greater is He that lives in me than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4).
  41. Because I believe in, lean on, trust and rely on God, I do the things that Jesus did, and greater things will I do, for His Spirit within me knows no limit. (John 14:12- 14).
  42. Therefore I believe that all things are possible and limit not the Holy One within me. (Philippians 4:13).
  43. I received power when the Holy Spirit came upon me, so every place I go and all I do, I do in the power of the Spirit: I have power to lay hands on the sick and see them recover (each and every one), and at my command, in the Name of Jesus all demonic powers are cast out and all people are set free; I have authority over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall by any means hurt me. (Mark 16:17- 18).
  44. I am the temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19).
  45. I am redeemed from the curse of the law and Abraham’s blessings are mine. (Galatians 3:13).
  46. I am redeemed from the futile way of life inherited from the tradition of my forefathers and am purchased with the precious blood of Christ. (1 Peter 1:18-19).
  47. I have been delivered from the control and dominion of the devil and have been translated into God’s kingdom of love. (Colossians 1:13).
  48. I am dead to sin and alive with Christ. (Romans 6:11; Ephesians 2:5).
  49. I am raised up with Christ and am seated with Him in heavenly places. (Ephesians 2:6).
  50. Because I am born of God the evil one cannot touch me. (1 John 5:18).

Rearranged and adapted from Michelle K Strydom’s book, [658-659] “Healing begins with the Sanctification of the Heart—No Disease is Incurable.” The fourth edition is published in 2013 and it can be downloaded free in the link below: begins-with-sanctification-of-the-heart-4th-edition/

Appendix 22

Joy by Henri J M Nouwen

The following passages are taken from Father Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book “Bread for the Journey” published in 1997.

  1. Choosing Joy (Jan 30)
    Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many, joy seems hard to find. They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck? Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently from the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it.
    What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice.
  2. Spiritual Choices (Jan 6)
    Choices. Choices make the difference. Two people are in the same accident and severely wounded. They did not choose to be in the accident. It happened to them. But one of them chose to live the experience in bitterness, the other in gratitude. These choices radically influenced their lives, and the lives of their families and friends. We have very little control over what happens in our lives, but we have a lot of control over how we integrate and remember what happens. It is precisely these spiritual choices that determine whether we live our lives with dignity.
  3. Solidarity in Weakness (Feb 1)
    Joy is hidden in compassion. The word compassion literally means, “to suffer with.” It seems quite unlikely that suffering with another person would bring joy. Yet being with a person in pain, offering simple presence to someone in despair, sharing with a friend times of confusion and uncertainty. . . such experiences can bring us deep joy. Not happiness, not excitement, not great satisfaction, but the quiet joy of being there for someone else and living in deep solidarity with our brothers and sisters in this human family. Often this is a solidarity in weakness, in brokenness, in woundedness, but it leads us to the center of joy, which is sharing our humanity with others.
  4. The Treasure of the Poor (Aug 20)
    The poor has a treasure to offer precisely because they cannot return our favours. By not paying us for what we have done for them, they call us to inner freedom, selflessness, generosity, and true care. Jesus says, “When you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, then you will be blessed, for they have no means to repay you and so you will be repaid when the upright rise again”(Luke 14:13-14)
    The repayment Jesus speaks about is spiritual. It is the joy, peace, and love of God that we so much desire. This is what the poor give us, not only in the afterlife but already here and now.
  5. Our Poverty, God’s Dwelling Place (Aug 18)
    How can we embrace poverty as a way to God when everyone around us wants to become rich? Poverty has many forms. We have to ask ourselves, “What is my poverty?” Is it lack of money, lack of emotional

stability, lack of a loving partner, lack of security, lack of safety, lack of self-confidence? Each human being has a place of poverty. That’s the place where God wants us to dwell! “How blessed are the poor,” Jesus says (Matthew 5:3). This means that our blessing is hidden in our poverty.
We are so inclined to cover up our poverty and ignore it that we often miss the opportunity to discover God, who dwells in it. Let’s dare to see our poverty as the land in which our treasure (love, joy, peace) is hidden.

  1. Expecting a Surprise (Jan 1)
    Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.
  2. Fruits that grow in Vulnerability (Jan 4)
    There is a great difference between successful and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities. Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another’s wounds.
    Let’s remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness.
  3. Our Spiritual Parents (Jan 2)
    Joy and sorrow are never separated. When our hearts rejoice at a spectacular view, we may miss our friends who cannot see it, and when we are overwhelmed with grief, we may discover what true friendship is all about. Joy is hidden in sorrow and sorrow in joy. If we try to avoid sorrow at all costs, we may never taste joy, and if we are suspicious of ecstasy, agony can never reach us either. Joy and sorrow are the parents of our spiritual growth.
  4. Enough Light for the Next Step (Jan 8)
    Often we want to be able to see into the future. We say, “How will next year be for me? Where will I be five or ten years from now?” There are no answers to these questions. Mostly we have just enough light to see the next step: what we have to do in the coming hour or the following day. The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go. Let’s rejoice in the little light we carry and not ask for the great beam that would take all shadows away.
  5. The Spiritual Work of Gratitude (Jan 12)
    To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives—the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections— that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has

brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for.
Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.

  1. The Joy of Being Like Others (Jan 31)
    At first sight, joy seems to be connected with being different. When you receive a compliment or win an award, you experience the joy of not being the same as others.
    You are faster, smarter, or more beautiful, and it is that difference that brings you joy. But such joy is very temporary. True joy is hidden where we are the same as other people: fragile and mortal. It is the joy of belonging to the human race. It is the joy of being with others as a friend, a companion, a fellow traveller.
    This is the joy of Jesus, who is Emmanuel: God-with-us.
  2. Going beyond our Wants (April 22)
    Sometimes we behave like children in a toy shop. We want this and that, and then something else. The many options confuse us and create an enormous restlessness in us. When someone says, “Well, what do you want? You can have one thing. Make up your mind,” we do not know what to choose.
    As long as our hearts keep vacillating among these many wants, we cannot move forward in life with inner peace and joy. That is why we need inner and outer disciplines, to go beyond these wants and discover our mission in life.

The passages below are taken from Robert A. Jonas’ book, published in 1998, on Father Henri J.M. Nouwen’s writings.

  1. Sadness to Joy (pg 37)
    For Jesus, joy is clearly a deeper and more truthful state of life than sorrow. He promises joy as the sign of new life: “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy. A woman in childbirth suffers, because the time has come; but when she has given birth to the child, she forgets the suffering in her joy that a human being has been born into the world. So it is with you; you are sad now, but I shall see you again, and your hearts will be full of joy, and that joy no one shall take from you.”(John 16:20b-22)
    Jesus connects joy with the promise of seeing Him again. In this sense, it is similar to the joy we experience when a dear friend returns after a long absence. But Jesus makes it clear that joy is more than that. It is “his own joy,” flowing from the love He shares with His heavenly Father and leading to completion. “Remain in My love. . . so that My own joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” (John 15:9b-11)
    The word “ecstasy” helps us to understand more fully the joy that Jesus offers. The literal meaning of the word can help to guide our thinking about joy. “Ecstasy” comes from the Greek ekstasis, which in turn is derived from ek, meaning out, and stasis, a state of standstill. To be ecstatic literally means to be outside of a static place. Thus, those who live ecstatic lives are always moving away from rigidly fixed situations and exploring new, unmapped dimensions of reality. Here we see the essence of joy. Joy is always new. Whereas there can be old pain, old grief, and old sorrow, there can

be no old joy. Old joy is not joy! Joy is always connected with movement, renewal, rebirth, change—in short, with life. (“Lifesigns,” 86-88)

  1. Ministry as Being-With (pg 112-113)
    Two words that I think are helpful for ministry are “compassion” and “gratitude.” Ministry happens when you participate in the mystery of being-with. The whole incarnation, God-with-us, Emmanuel, is first of all being with people. Caring means “to cry out with.” Compassion literally means “to be with those who suffer.” Ministry means that we lift the incarnation—we lift the God who says, “I will be with you.” We are to be precisely where people are vulnerable, not to fix it or to change it. That is an unintended fruit of it, but that is not why we are there.
    Compassion is the priesthood of Jesus—-read the letter to the Hebrews. Since nothing human was alien to Him, He was the compassionate high priest. Jesus is first of all God- with-us. For thirty years He was just living in a small village, living the same life that we live. It was for only three years that He was preaching. So even when you look at it in a spiritual way, Jesus’ ministry wasn’t just the three years He was preaching. The mystery is that He shared our lives. God is a God-with-us. Ministry is being with the sick, the dying, being with people wherever they are, whatever their problems. We dare to be with them in their weakness and trust that if we are entering into people’s vulnerable places, we will experience immense joy. That is the mystery of ministry.
    You can’t solve the world’s problems, but you can be with people. I’ve been with two people who were dying in the last months. It wasn’t a burden—it was a

great joy to have the privilege to be there when they made their passage.
If I follow God, I pray, I say certain things, and I tell others in need that I care. But I don’t sit down beforehand and plan how to get this person from here to there. If I am not in communion with God or in communion with other people, then I become a technician who got involved, but as a technician I cannot lay down my life for my friends. My life is my joy, my peace, and my sorrow. Ministry is witness. It is nothing else but saying, “I’ve seen something, I’ve experienced something, and I am not afraid to share it with you if you ask me to.” Ministry doesn’t have that quality of compulsiveness that it has to happen right away or if I don’t say something at the right time that person will become lost. (“Parting Words,” 14-15)

  1. A Ministry of Empowerment (pg 114-115)
    Gratitude is essential to ministry. Gratitude basically means to receive the gifts of others—to say thank you for being you. It is a central part of ministry to receive the gifts of others. Only when you yourself have experienced your own giftedness can you be free. We have a desire to get things to other people so that we can be on the giving side. We forget that the greater joy for other people is for them to realise that they have something to give to us.
    I can care for handicapped people my whole life, and they need thousands of things, but the greater joy for other people is to be able to do some things themselves. When I can be excited about them, take them on a lecture tour with me and hear others say to them, “Wow, you were great!” these are gifts. When I take Bill or one of the other from L’Arche with me,

it’s not to show other people how much I care for them; rather I do it so they can offer other something. I’m the mediator of that. I need to be there with them. They cannot give their gifts if I’m not there to make them visible.
For instance, I am leaving New Jersey soon. When I began praying here, the group said, “You’re the one who know all about prayer.” Yes, I have a certain sophistication around these things, but if I stayed here longer, they would see that I am not always grateful and things don’t always work for me. The point is that, finally, I have to empower people, and say, “You have as much to give as I do.” Ministry always means to empower others to give their gifts to each other. Ministry is about multiplication. You give away what you have—that little piece of bread in your hand—and it multiplies. You give away the little ministry that you have and everyone becomes a minister to others. Then there is more ministry being done than you have ever seen.
This is what Jesus meant when He said (in effect), “It is good for you that I die; if I go then you can do your job.” Jesus’ task was to create a community that was empowered. Jesus said, “I will go and I will send you My Spirit, and My Spirit will empower you. All the things the Father told Me, I’m telling you. All the things I am doing, you will do, and even greater things.”
Jesus never said that He could do something that we couldn’t do. He never said that He was something we are not. He said, I am the Son of God, and you are children of God. I am called from death to life and you are as well. I know everything about the love of God and I hold back nothing from you. That’s the whole concept of the Church; we are the body of Christ—-we are the living Christ. The sacramental vision of Christ means that Christ is

where we are. Just as Christ went away in order to empower others, every minister has to go away sometimes to empower others. It’s good for you that I die, that I go away so that you can claim the gifts of God. But for a while I have to be with you so that you can discover your gifts, but then you have to let me go so that they can fully bloom. (“Parting Words,” 15-17)

An invitation to Joy (The Return of the Prodigal Son, pg 113- 119)
I realise that I am not used to the image of God throwing a big party. It seems to contradict the solemnity and seriousness I have always attached to God. But when I think about the ways in which Jesus described God’s Kingdom, a joyful banquet is often at its center. Jesus says, “Many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven.”(Matthew 8:11) And He compares the Kingdom of Heaven with a wedding feast offered by the king to his son.
The king’s servants go out to invite people with the words: “Look, my banquet is all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding.” (Matthew 22:4) But many were not interested. They were too busy with their own affairs.
Just as in the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus expressed here the great desire of His Father to offer His children a banquet and His eagerness to get it going even when those who are invited refuse to come. This invitation to a meal is an invitation to intimacy with God. This is especially clear at the Last Supper, shortly before Jesus’ death. There He says to His disciples: “From now on, I tell you, I shall never again drink wine until the day I drink the new wine with you in the Kingdom of My Father.” (Matthew 26:29) And at the close of the New Testament, God’s ultimate

victory is described as a splendid wedding feast: “The reign of the Lord our God Almighty has begun, let us be glad and joyful and give glory to God, because this is the time for the marriage of the Lamb. . . blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb. . . “ (Revelation 19:6-9)
Celebration belongs to God’s Kingdom. God not only offer forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing, but wants to lift up these gifts as a source of joy for all who witness them. In all three of the parables, which Jesus tells to explain why He eats with sinners, God rejoices and invites others to rejoice with Him. “Rejoice with me,” the shepherd says, “I have found my sheep that was lost.” “Rejoice with me,” the woman says, “I have found the drachma I lost.” “Rejoice with me,” the father says, “this son of mime was lost and is found.”
Rembrandt paints the moment of the return of the younger son. The elder son and the three other members of the father household keep their distance. Will they understand the father’s joy? Will they let the father embrace them? Will I? Will they be able to step out of their recriminations and share in the celebration? Will I?
I can see only one moment, and I am left guessing as to what will happen next. I repeat: Will they? Will I? I know the father wants all the people around him to admire the returning son’s new clothes, to join him around the table, to eat and dance with him. This is not a private affair. This is something for all in the family to celebrate in gratitude.
I repeat again: Will they? Will I? It is an important question because it touches—strange as it may sound—my resistance to living a joyful life.
God rejoices. Not because the problem of the world have been solved, not because all human pain and suffering have come to an end, nor because thousands of people have been converted and are now

praising Him for His goodness. No, God rejoices because one of His children who was lost has been found. What I am called to is to enter into the joy. It is God’s joy, not the joy that the world offers. It is the joy that comes from seeing a child walk home amid all the destruction, devastation, and anguish of the world. It is a hidden joy as inconspicuous as the flute player that Rembrandt painted in the wall above the head of the seated observer.
I am not accustomed to rejoicing in things that are small, hidden, and scarcely noticed by the people around me. I am generally ready and prepared to receive bad news, to read about wars, violence, and crimes, and to witness conflict and disarray. I always expect my visitors to talk about their problems and pain, their setbacks and disappointments, their depressions, and their anguish. Somehow I have become accustomed to living with sadness, and so have lost the eyes to see the joy and the ears to hear the gladness that belongs to God and which is to be found in the hidden corners of the world.
I have a friend who is so deeply connected with God that he can see joy where I expect only sadness. He travels much and meets countless people. When he returns home, I always expect him to tell me about the difficult economic situation of the countries he visited, about the great injustices he heard about, and the pain he has seen. But even though he is very aware of the great upheaval of the world, he seldom speaks of it. When he shares his experiences, he tells about the hidden joys he has discovered. He tells about a man, a woman, or a child who brought him hope and peace. He tells about little groups of people who are faithful to each other in the midst of all the turmoil. He tells about the small wonders of God. At times I realise that I am disappointed because I want to hear

“newspaper news,” exciting and exhilarating stories that can be talked about among friends. But he never responds to my need for sensationalism. He keeps saying; “I saw something very small and very beautiful, something that gave me much joy.”
The father of the prodigal son gives himself totally to the joy that his returning son brings him. I have to learn from that. I have to learn to “steal” all the real joy there is to steal and lift it up for others to see. Yes, I know that not everybody has been converted yet, that there is not yet peace everywhere, that all pain has not yet been taken away, but still, I see people turning and returning home; I hear voices that pray; I notice moments of forgiveness, and I witness many signs of hope. I don’t have to wait until all is well, but I can celebrate every little hint of the Kingdom that is at hand.
This is a real discipline. It requires choosing for the light even when there is much darkness to frighten me, choosing for life even when the forces of death are so visible, and choosing for the truth even when I am surrounded with lies. I am tempted to be so impressed by the obvious sadness of the human condition that I no longer claim the joy manifesting itself in many small but very real way. The reward of choosing joy is joy itself. Living among people with mental disabilities has convinced me of that. There is so much rejection, pain, and woundedness among us, but once you choose to claim the joy hidden in the midst of all suffering, life becomes celebration. Joy never denies the sadness, but transforms it to a fertile soil for more joy.
Surely I will be called naive, unrealistic, and sentimental, and I will be accused of ignoring the “real” problems, the structural evils that underlie much of human misery. But God rejoices when one repentant sinner returns.
Statistically that is not very interesting. But for God,

numbers never seem to matter. Who knows whether the world is kept from destruction because of one, two, or three people who have continued to pray when the rest of humanity has lost hope and dissipated itself?
From God’s perspective one hidden act of repentance, one little gesture of selfless love, one moment of true forgiveness is all that is needed to bring God from His throne to run to His returning son and to fill heavens with sounds of divine joy.

If that is God’s way, then I am challenged to let go of all the voices of doom and damnation that drag me into depression and allow the “small” joys to reveal the truth about the world I live in. When Jesus speaks about the world, He is very realistic. He speaks about wars and revolution, plagues, earthquakes and famines, persecution and imprisonment, betrayal, hatred and assassinations. There is no suggestion at all that these signs of the world’s darkness will ever be absent. But still, God’s joy can be ours in the midst of it all. It is the joy of belonging to the household of God whose love is stronger than death and who empowers us to be in the world while already belonging to the kingdom of joy.
This is the secret of the joy of the saints. From St.
Anthony of the desert, to St Francis of Assisi, to Prere Roger Schultz of Taize, to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, joy has been the mark of the people of God. That joy can be seen on the faces of the many simple, poor, and often suffering people who live today among great economic and social upheaval, but who can already hear the music and the dance in the Father’s house. I, myself, see this joy every day in the faces of the mentally handicapped people of my community. All these holy men and women, whether they lived long ago or belong in our own time, can recognise the many small

returns that take place every day and rejoice with the Father. They have somehow pierced the meaning of true joy.
For me it is amazing to experience daily the radical difference between cynicism and joy. Cynics seek darkness wherever they go. They point always to approaching dangers, impure motives, and hidden schemes. They call trust naïve, care romantic, and forgiveness sentimental. They sneer at enthusiasm, ridicule spiritual fervour, and despise charismatic behaviour.
They consider themselves realists who see reality for what it truly is and who are not deceived by “escapist emotions.” But in belittling God’s joy, their darkness only calls forth more darkness.
People who have come to know the joy of God do not deny the darkness, but they choose not to live in it. They claim that the light that shines in the darkness can be trusted more than the darkness itself and that a little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness. They point each other to flashes of light here and there, and remind each other that they reveal the hidden but real presence of God.
They discover that there are people who heal each other’s wounds, forgive each other’s offences, share their possessions, foster the spirit of community, celebrate the gifts they have received, and live in constant anticipation of the full manifestation of God’s glory.
Every moment of each day I have the chance to choose between cynicism and joy. Every thought I have can be cynical or joyful. Every word I speak can be cynical or joyful. Every action can be cynical of joyful.
Increasingly I am aware of all these possible choices and increasingly I discover that every choice for joy in

turn reveals more joy and offers more reason to make life a true celebration in the house of the Father.
Jesus lived this joy of the Father’s house to the full. In Him we can see His Father’s joy. “Everything the Father has is Mine”(John 16:15), He says, including god’s boundless joy.
That divine joy does not obliterate the divine sorrow. In our world, joy and sorrow exclude each other. Here below, joy means the absence of sorrow and sorrow the absence of joy. But such distinctions do not exist in God. Jesus, the Son of God, is the man of sorrows, but also the man of complete joy. We catch a glimpse of this when we realise that in the midst of His greatest suffering Jesus is never separated from His Father. His union with His Father is never broken even when He “feels” abandoned by God. The joy of God belongs to His sonship, and this joy of Jesus and His Father is offered to me. Jesus wants me to have the same joy He enjoys; “I have loved you, just as My Father has loved Me. Remain in My love. If you keep My commandments you will remain in My love just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. I have told you this, so that My own joy may be in you and your joy be complete.”(John 15:9-11)
As the returned child of God, living in the Father’s house, God’s joy is mine to claim. There is seldom a minute in my life that I am not tempted by sadness, cynicism, melancholy, dark moods, sombre thoughts, morbid speculations, and waves of depression. And often I allow them to cover up the joy of my Father’s house.
But when I truly believe that I have already returned and that my Father has already dressed me with cloak, ring, and sandals, I can remove the mask of the sadness from my heart and dispel the lie it tells about my true self and claim the truth with the inner freedom of the child of God.

But there is more. A child does not remain a child. A child becomes an adult. An adult becomes father and mother. When the prodigal son returns home, he returns not to remain a child, but to claim his sonship and become a father himself. As the returned child of God who is invited to resume my place in my Father’s home, the challenge now, yes the call, is to become the Father myself. I am awed by this call. For a long time I have lived with the insight that returning to my Father’s home was the ultimate call. It has taken me much spiritual work to make the elder son as well as the younger son in me turn around and receive the welcoming love of the Father. The fact is that, on many levels, I am still returning. But the closer I come to home the clearer becomes the realisation that there is a call beyond the call to return. It is the call to become the Father who welcomes home and calls for a celebration. Having claimed my sonship, I now have to claim fatherhood. When I first saw Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son, I could never have dreamt that becoming the repentant son was only a step on the way to becoming the welcoming father. I now see that the hands that forgive, console, heal, and offer a festive meal must become my own. Becoming the Father is, therefore, for me the surprising conclusion of these reflections on Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son.

Appendix 23

Healing Scriptures in Old Testament from GNT, Good News Translation

  1. Psalms 4:1 Answer me when I pray, O God, my defender! When I was in trouble, you helped me. Be kind to me now and hear my prayer.
  2. Psalms 6:2-3 I am worn out, O LORD; have pity on me! Give me strength; I am completely exhausted and my whole being is deeply troubled. How long, O LORD, will you wait to help me?
  3. Psalms 9:11 The LORD gives strength to his people and blesses them with peace.
  4. Psalms 30:1-2 I praise you, LORD, because you have saved me and kept my enemies from gloating over me. I cried to you for help, O LORD my God, and you healed me; you kept me from the grave.
  5. Psalms 34:17-19 The righteous call to the LORD, and he listens; he rescues them from all their troubles. The LORD is near to those who are discouraged; he saves those who have lost all hope. Good people suffer many troubles, but the LORD saves them from them all;
  6. Psalms 34:22 The LORD will save his people; those who go to him for protection will be spared.
  7. Psalms 41:2-3 The LORD will protect them and preserve their lives; he will make them happy in the land; he will not abandon them to the power of their enemies. The LORD will help them when they are sick and will restore them to health.
  8. Psalms 43:5 Why am I so sad? Why am I so troubled? I will put my hope in God, and once again I will praise him, my savior and my God.
  9. Psalms 91:1-4 Whoever goes to the LORD for safety, whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty, can say to him, “You are my defender and protector. You are my God; in you I trust.” He will keep you safe from all hidden dangers and from all deadly diseases. He will cover you with his wings; you will be safe in his care; his faithfulness will protect and defend you.
  10. Psalms 91:9-10 You have made the LORD your defender, the Most High your protector, and so no disaster will strike you, no violence will come near your home.
  11. Psalms 91:14-16 God says, “I will save those who love me and will protect those who acknowledge me
    as LORD. When they call to me, I will answer them; when they are in trouble, I will be with
    them. I will rescue them and honor them. I will reward them with long life; I will save them.”
  12. Psalms 103:1-5 Praise the LORD, my soul! All my being, praise his holy name! Praise the LORD, my soul, and do not forget how kind he is. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He keeps me from the grave and blesses me with love and mercy. He fills my life with good things, so that I stay young and strong like an eagle.
  13. Psalms 107:19-20 Then in their trouble they called to the LORD, and he saved them from their distress. He healed them with his command and saved them from the grave.
  14. Psalms 108:4-6 Your constant love reaches above the heavens; your faithfulness touches the skies. Show your greatness in the sky, O God, and your glory over all the earth. Save us by your might; answer my prayer, so that the people you love may be rescued.
  15. Psalms 118:17 I will not die; instead, I will live and proclaim what the LORD has done.
  16. Psalms 119:76-77 Let your constant love comfort me, as you have promised me, your servant. Have mercy on me, and I will live because I take pleasure in your law.
  17. Psalms 147:3 He heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds.
  18. Proverb 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you
    know. Remember the LORD in everything you do, and he will show you the right way.
  19. Proverb 3:7-8 Never let yourself think that you are wiser than you are; simply obey the LORD and refuse to do wrong. If you do, it will be like good medicine, healing your wounds and easing your pains.
  20. Proverb 4:20-23 My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen to my words. Never let them get away from you. Remember them and keep them in your heart. They will give life and health to anyone who understands them. Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.
  21. Proverb 5:3-8 The lips of another man’s wife may be as sweet as honey and her kisses as smooth as olive oil, but when it is all over, she leaves you nothing but bitterness and pain. She will take you down to the world of the dead; the road she walks is the road to death. She does not stay on the road to life; but wanders off, and does not realize what is
    happening. Now listen to me, sons, and never forget what I am saying. Keep away from such a woman! Don’t even go near her door!
  22. Proverb 14:30 Peace of mind makes the body healthy,
    but jealousy is like a cancer.
  23. Proverb 15:30 Smiling faces make you happy, and good news makes you feel better.
  24. Proverb 16:24 Kind words are like honey—sweet to the taste and good for your health.
  25. Proverb 17:22 Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time.
  26. Proverb 18:14 Your will to live can sustain you when you are sick, but if you lose it, your last hope is gone.
  27. Isaiah 32:3-4 Their eyes and ears will be open to the needs of the people. They will not be impatient any longer, but they will act with understanding and will say what they mean.
  28. Isaiah 35:5-6 The blind will be able to see, and the deaf will hear. The lame will leap and dance, and those who cannot speak will shout for joy. Streams of water will flow through the desert;
  29. Isaiah 38:16, 20 Lord, I will live for you, for you alone; Heal me and let me live. . . . LORD, you have healed me. We will play harps and sing your praise, Sing praise in your Temple as long as we live.
  30. Isaiah 40:26 Look up at the sky! Who created the stars you see? The one who leads them out like an army, he knows how many there are and calls each one by name! His power is so great—not one of them is ever missing!
  31. Isaiah 40:31 But those who trust in the LORD for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.
  32. Isaiah 41:10 Do not be afraid—I am with you! I am your God—let nothing terrify you! I will make you strong and help you; I will protect you and save you.
  33. Isaiah 46:4 I am your God and will take care of you until you are old and your hair is gray. I made you

and will care for you; I will give you help and rescue you.

  1. Isaiah 49:13 Sing, heavens! Shout for joy, earth! Let the mountains burst into song! The LORD will comfort his people; he will have pity on his suffering people.
  2. Isaiah 53:4-5 “But he endured the suffering that should have been ours, the pain that we should have borne. All the while we thought that his suffering was punishment sent by God. But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received.
  3. Isaiah 53:10 The LORD says, “It was my will that he should suffer; his death was a sacrifice to bring forgiveness. And so he will see his descendants; he will live a long life, and through him my purpose will succeed.
  4. Isaiah 57:18-21 “I have seen how they acted, but I will heal them. I will lead them and help them, and I will comfort those who mourn. I offer peace to all, both near and far! I will heal my people. But evil people are like the restless sea, whose waves never stop rolling in, bringing filth and
    muck. There is no safety for sinners,” says the LORD.
  5. Isaiah 58:8 -9 “Then my favor will shine on you like the morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. I will always be with you to save you; my presence will protect you on every side. When you pray, I will answer you. When you call to me, I will respond.
  6. Deuteronomy 7:15 The LORD will protect you from all sickness, and he will not bring on you any of the dreadful diseases that you experienced in Egypt, but he will bring them on all your enemies.
  7. Deuteronomy 11:9-12 And you will live a long time in the rich and fertile land that the LORD promised to give your ancestors and their descendants. The land that you are about to occupy is not like the land of Egypt, where you lived before. There, when you planted grain, you had to work hard to irrigate the fields; but the land that you are about to enter is a land of mountains and valleys, a land watered by rain. The LORD your God takes care of this land and watches over it throughout the year.
  8. Deuteronomy 23:5 But the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam; instead he turned the curse into a blessing, because he loved you.
  9. Deuteronomy 28:58-61 “If you do not obey faithfully all of God’s teachings that are written in this book and if you do not honor the wonderful and awesome name of the LORD your God, he will send on you and on your descendants incurable diseases and horrible epidemics that can never be stopped. He will bring on you once again all the dreadful diseases you experienced in Egypt, and you will never recover. He will also send all kinds of diseases and epidemics that are not mentioned in this book of God’s laws and teachings, and you will be destroyed.
  10. Deuteronomy 30:19 I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between God’s blessing and God’s curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Choose life.
  11. Deuteronomy 31:8 The LORD himself will lead you and be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you, so do not lose courage or be afraid.”
  12. Deuteronomy 32:39 “‘I, and I alone, am God; no other god is real. I kill and I give life, I wound and I heal, and no one can oppose what I do.
  13. Deuteronomy 33:24-25 About the tribe of Asher he said: “Asher is blessed more than the other tribes. May he be the favorite of his brothers, And may his land be rich with olive trees. May his towns be protected with iron gates, And may he always live secure.”
  14. Genesis 6:3 Then the LORD said, “I will not allow people to live forever; they are mortal. From now on they will live no longer than 120 years.”
  15. Genesis 15:15 You yourself will live to a ripe old age, die in peace, and be buried.
  16. Exodus 12:13 The blood on the doorposts will be a sign to mark the houses in which you live. When I see the blood, I will pass over you and will not harm you when I punish the Egyptians.
  17. Exodus 15:26 He said, “If you will obey me completely by doing what I consider right and by keeping my commands, I will not punish you with any of the diseases that I brought on the Egyptians. I am
    the LORD, the one who heals you.”
  18. Exodus 23:25-26 If you worship me, the LORD your God, I will bless you with food and water and take away all your sicknesses. In your land no woman will have a miscarriage or be without children. I will give you long lives.
  19. 2 Chronicles 7:14 if they pray to me and repent and turn away from the evil they have been doing, then I will hear them in heaven, forgive their sins, and make their land prosperous again.
  20. Nehemiah 8:10 Now go home and have a feast. Share your food and wine with those who don’t have enough. Today is holy to our Lord, so don’t be sad. The joy that
    the LORD gives you will make you strong.”
  21. Nehemiah 13:1-2 When the Law of Moses was being read aloud to the people, they came to the passage that said

that no Ammonite or Moabite was ever to be permitted to join God’s people. This was because the people of Ammon and Moab did not give food and water to the Israelites on their way out of Egypt. Instead, they paid money to Balaam to curse Israel, but our God turned the curse into a blessing.

  1. Job 5:26 Like wheat that ripens till harvest time, you will live to a ripe old age.
  2. Job 33:24-26 In mercy the angel will say, “Release them! They are not to go down to the world of the dead. Here is the ransom to set them free.” Their bodies will grow young and strong again; when they pray, God will answer; they will worship God with joy; God will set things right for them again.
  3. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses. He sets the time for birth and the time for death, the time for planting and the time for pulling up, the time for killing and the time for healing, the time for tearing down and the time for building. He sets the time for sorrow and the time for joy, the time for mourning and the time for dancing, the time for making love and the time for not making love, the time for kissing and the time for not kissing. He sets the time for finding and the time for losing, the time for saving and the time for throwing away, the time for tearing and the time for mending, the time for silence and the time for talk. He sets the time for love and the time for hate, the time for war and the time for peace.
  4. Jeremiah 17:14 LORD, heal me and I will be completely well; rescue me and I will be perfectly safe. You are the one I praise!
  5. Jeremiah 29:11 I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.
  6. Jeremiah 30:17 I will make you well again; I will heal your wounds, though your enemies say, ‘Zion is an outcast; no one cares about her.’ I, the LORD, have spoken.”
  7. Jeremiah 33:14 The LORD said, “The time is coming when I will fulfill the promise that I made to the people of Israel and Judah.
  8. Lamentation 3:22-24 The LORD’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The LORD is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.
  9. Ezekiel 34:16 “I will look for those that are lost, bring back those that wander off, bandage those that are hurt, and heal those that are sick; but those that are fat and strong I will destroy, because I am a shepherd who does what is right.
  10. Ezekiel 37:5 Tell them that I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying to them: I am going to put breath into you and bring you back to life.
  11. Ezekiel 37:14 I will put my breath in them, bring them back to life, and let them live in their own land. Then they will know that I am the LORD. I have promised that I would do this—and I will. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
  12. Ezekiel 47:9 Wherever the stream flows, there will be all kinds of animals and fish. The stream will make the water of the Dead Sea fresh, and wherever it flows, it will bring life.
  13. Joel 3:10 Hammer the points of your plows into swords and your pruning knives into spears. Even the weak must fight.
  14. Amos 5:4-6 The LORD says to the people of Israel, “Come to me, and you will live. Do not go to Beersheba to worship. Do not try to find me at Bethel—Bethel will come to nothing. Do not go to Gilgal—her people are doomed to exile.”
  15. Micah 7:7 But I will watch for the LORD; I will wait confidently for God, who will save me. My God will hear me.
  16. Malachi 4:1-2 The LORD Almighty says, “The day is coming when all proud and evil people will burn like straw. On that day they will burn up, and there will be nothing left of them. But for you who obey me, my saving power will rise on you like the sun and bring healing like the sun’s rays. You will be as free and happy as calves let out of a stall.

Appendix 24

Healing Scriptures in New Testament from NKJV

  1. Matthew 4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.
  2. Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
  3. Matthew 8:2-3 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
  4. Matthew 8:13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.
  5. Matthew 9:12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
  6. Matthew 9:22 But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.
  7. Matthew 9:28-30 And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.” And their eyes were opened.
  8. Matthew 12:15 But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all.
  9. Matthew 10:8 “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
  10. Matthew 12:15 But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all.
  11. Matthew 14:14 And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.
  12. Matthew 14:34-36 When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.
  13. Matthew 15:22-28 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
  14. Matthew 18:18-19 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever

you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.”

  1. Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
  2. Mark 5:25-34 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?” But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ” And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole
    truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”
  3. Mark 7:37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
  4. Mark 9:23-26 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears,

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him.

  1. Mark 11:23-26 “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
  2. Mark 15:18 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
  3. Luke 4:17-19 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty

those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

  1. Luke 4:38-40 Now He arose from the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. But Simon’s wife’s mother was sick with a high fever, and they made request of Him concerning her. So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. And immediately she arose and served them. When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them.
  2. Luke 5:17-26 Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him. And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus. When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”; He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own

house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things today!”

  1. Luke 9:11 But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing.
  2. Luke 9:56 “For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.
  3. Luke 10:9 “And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
  4. Luke 10:19-20 “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt
    you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
  5. Luke 13:11-16 And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.” The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound; think of it; for

eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?”

  1. Luke 14:2-6 And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had dropsy. And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” But they kept silent. And He took him and healed him, and let him go. Then He answered them, saying, “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” And they could not answer Him regarding these things.
  2. John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
  3. John 6:32-35 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
  4. John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.
  5. John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
  6. John 11:21-27 Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise
    again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall
    live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
  7. John 12:38-44 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against
    it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. “And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”
  8. John 14:5-21 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have

known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever; the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

  1. John 14:26-27 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to

you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

  1. Acts 3:16 “And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
  2. Acts 4:29-30 “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
  3. Acts 9:33-34 There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.” Then he arose immediately.
  4. Acts 10:38 “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
  5. Acts 19:11-12 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.
  6. Romans 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
  7. Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the

dead will also give life to your mortal bodies
through His Spirit who dwells in you.

  1. Romans 8:35-39 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  2. 1 Cor 6:18-20 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
  3. 1 Cor 11:29-31 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
  4. 1 Cor 12:7-9 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,
  5. 1 Cor 15:42-43 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.
  6. 2 Cor 1:9-10 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,
  7. 2 Cor 4:8-11 We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
  8. 2 Cor 10:4-6 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
  9. Galatians 3:13-14 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
  10. Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
  11. Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother, which is

the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

  1. Ephesians 6:10-17 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
  2. Philippians 2:12-16 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
  3. Col 1:13-14 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of

the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

  1. 2 Tim 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
  2. 2 Tim 4:18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!
  3. Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
  4. Hebrews 2:14-15 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
  5. Hebrews 10:19-23 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure
    water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
  6. Hebrews 10:35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.
  7. Hebrews 12:12-13 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.
  8. James 5:13-15 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the
    Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
  9. James 5:16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
  10. 1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed.
  11. 2 Peter 1:3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
  12. 1 John 3:21-23 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
  13. 3 John 1:2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
  14. Revelation 22:16-17 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning
    Star.” And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

Appendix 24
Movies on Paul the Apostle in YouTube

  1. The Life Of Apostle Paul Bible Movie
  2. Apostle Paul – Classic Collection – 8062
  3. Paul the Apostle Full Movie
  4. PBS Empires : Peter & Paul Full Documentary – 2017
  5. Saul becomes Paul
  6. Life of St. Paul
  7. The Acts of the Apostles – Film – High Quality! HD
  8. Quest for the Real Paul
  9. The Search for the Historical Paul – John Dominic Crossan
  10. Life History of Paul the Apostle – ACTS 29……..
    Adventure Continues Through You

Appendix 25

Movies on Jesus Christ in YouTube

  1. JESUS OF NAZARETH by Franco Zeffirelli
  2. The Gospel Of Matthew (in 251 min)
  3. The Gospel According to Luke (KJV) from the JESUS Film Project (480p) 240 min
  4. The Jesus Movie 1979 Full Luke Gispel
  5. The Life of Jesus from John Gospel• English • Official Full HD Movie
  6. “The Life Of Jesus Christ – LDS – Full Movie – Best Quality…”
  7. “The Life of Jesus, Part 1” on YouTube Cathedral Film
  8. “The Life of Jesus, Part 2” on YouTube Cathedral Film
  9. “The Life of Jesus, Part 3” on YouTube Cathedral Film
  10. Jesus: His Life (Full Documentary) – The Best Documentary Ever Biography
  12. Jewish History – Evidence Of Ancient Israel – Full Documentary

James Lau Guan-Ho was born in 1938. He went through the tough years of WWII. Immediately after the war, his parents were so poor that they had to place him, his elder brother and two cousins, for one year, in Canossa Convent
Orphanage, Singapore.
He is married to Shirley Tan Kee-Ling for 53
years. They have three adult children and five grandchildren.

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