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There “butt” for the grace of God go I

Annie J. Flint in a wheelchair

Note: I have edited this piece to reflect more of what I learn from the challenges of others.

No, it’s not a typo. I have a message to share with all of you, that I pray will reach you at the moment it is needed most. Yesterday, I was treated at the Englehart ER for the effects of chemical exposure by Dr. Josiah Butt. It is interesting to note that the Hebrew meaning for Josiah is healed by Jehovah or supported by Jehovah. God does have a way of getting our attention about how He is the God who heals in accordance with His will and plan for our lives. Why He heals some physically and others He does not remains a mystery to even the most educated of theologians, who have studied the concept of healing for a lifetime.

In the hymn He giveth more grace written by a teacher who had to give up teaching when crippling arthritis struck, we see Annie Johnson Flint’s shining faith in her adversity. Bed-ridden and barely able to write, as inflammation from the arthritis causes her unrelenting pain, she pens what has become one of the most inspiring hymns of the Church.

Picture seeing Annie’s gnarled hands as you close your eyes. How difficult would be for you if you were told by your doctors, that you would be an invalid for the rest of your life. What would that do to your faith? Would you remain angry and bitter at God and at life itself? Would you make that long, painful and difficult journey from anger to acceptance of your condition?

Annie battled the merciless pain of arthritis for 40 years long before there were modern treatments to deal with this debilitating condition.

Listen with your heart to how one biographer describes Annie’s condition.

“Annie J. Flint was afflicted with horrendous arthritis. She was bedridden and her hands were nothing but twisted and gnarly stumps. With incredible effort, Ms. Flint managed to hold a pencil and over time write this hymn which was a testimony to her amazing faith in the grace of God. If someone enjoying perfect health and financial prosperity had written this hymn, it would not have the impact as someone who literally used every ounce of strength she had to write the words God placed on her heart.”

On a personal level my journey is teaching me that my health and mobility challenges have brought me closer to God’s heart and His will for my life. As I struggle my Lord connects me with others who face life circumstances that might cause many of us to give up. Yet, they press on. They go that one step more. They have their down times, but they would be cheered on by people of the calibre of Winston Churchill who said, “Never, never, never, give up.”

Two days ago my wife, Karen and I are exposed to a chemical disinfectant that is needed to deal with a backup of sewage in the basement of our home. Dr. Butt is moved in his heart to ask for compassionate coverage of an expensive allergy medication called Singulair.

A small investment of a little over $100 a month for those needing Singulair would mean many people requiring it would not be needing the ER as much, which would lighten the burden on our already growing numbers of people requiring ER care. My coverage of this medication was stopped even though pulmonary function tests conducted at Toronto East General Hospital proved that my breathing majorly improved on the medication and the quality of my life, which significantly reduced my need to access the health care system in the province of Ontario.

I am coughing up phlegm and feeling quite nauseated and weak.By the time I arrive at the ER I am finding it difficult to breathe. My hands start turning blue from lack of blood oxygen.

By the time Karen drives me to the ER I am gasping for my breath. The additional problem is that I am having a mast cell attack. These are the cells that form part of your immune system and are throughout your tissues and organs. I have what doctors believe is a very rare auto immune disorder called systemic mastocytosis.My symptoms range from abdominal pain all the way up to anaphylactic reactions. I have been intubated eight times. If you google “Mastocytosis Disease of a Thousand Faces University of Toronto” you will find a thorough report on this condition. When I have a mast cell attack it is like a neighbourhood block party that has gone way out of control. I take multiple mast cell stabilizers to keep the mast cell neighbourhood block party well controlled, but from time to time not even my mast cell regulators can bring these mast cell party crashers under control.

Singulair fights the allergy and asthma producing symptoms of my mastocytosis in a very unique way that the antihistamines don’t do. Having this critical medication will mean having much less ER visits.

Karen returns home from being with me in the ER.

When I call Karen to tell her the great news that Dr. Butt has applied for coverage of the Singulair, she cries tears of joy. It is so wonderful to be able to breathe with less effort. Breathing really and truly is a gift from God. Asthmatics and those with respiratory conditions who feel like there are times when they are breathing through a straw, know what a blessing being able to breathe is.

I will outline for you three miracles of grace that happened all stemming from mediation of the sewage backup problem. They are as follows: 1) God used an ER visit to arrange for coverage of my Singulair,2)The air cleanup is being done, and 3) We don’t have to pay for the cleanup.

My pastor and I had quite the conversation today about all of these events and the ongoing challenges many of you have read about in Karen’s and my life. He shared with me that so many others are being blessed as they see how God’s abiding grace is revealed in our lives. We’re not special. We fall. We get up. We mess up. God in His mercy  forgives us when we repent and ask for forgiveness. We are sinners saved by God’s amazing grace. We are learners struggling along seeking to really know God. Yes, we have our questions and our doubts. We are still on the journey like you of being perfected in love.

Our pastor shared with us that it would be helpful to us to have a testimony booklet in which we write about all of the times God has blessed us. Then, when the really tough times come we will have these blessings of God’s grace to encourage us in our struggles. Perhaps, you should seriously consider having such a grace booklet.

There’s a Scripture that is dear to my heart.” And He (Christ) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me”( 2 Corinthians 12:9, New King James Version). When we give Christ our devotion and obedience, particularly in our greatest struggles, He gives us His strength to endure whatever challenge or struggle we are experiencing. I know that my own human strength would surely fail me with the multiple ongoing challenges in Karen’s and my life. I have no doubt that many of you could testify to that statement in your own life, especially when as Karen says life gets so daily.

I wrote this testimony of faith as I recover in our motel room. Please pray for us as we seek God and His next step in our journey. I would also ask that you pray for Marmar and all the fellow co-authors. We are here for the purposes of sharing our journeys with you, sharing our struggles, failures and successes, of being light in your darkness, hope in your despair and guides in your life’s journey.

When I receive your comments and your prayer requests, my wife and I lift what you share before the Lord. I regard Mind’s Seat as being a ministry of the heart. You hear my heart. I listen to yours. And as we do that we see that  there but for the grace of God go all of us.