“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” Job 1 :21b
It was a beautiful winter morning. Cecil was sitting in the kitchen with his first coffee of the day, and staring out of the window. He loved mornings like this. The lawn was sparsely covered with a layer of frost, so thin the green of the grass was also poking through. The cold pale light from the early morning sun revealed itself from the hills on the distant horizon, casting an accusing glare through the mesh of winters denuded trees.
“The best time”, thought Cecil to himself as he picked up a note resting next to the phone. A list of hymns for the service this morning. Cecil was on the rota to play this Sunday. He liked the early mornings. He could drive to Crosham early and have a quick practice of the hymns before the service started.
The next step was to defrost the car, so after starting the engine he circled the car with his de-icer and scraper to prepare the car for the short journey. Then he straightened his tie, donned his well polished shoes. Crosham was not far away, about two miles. Straight up the country lane to the crossroads – then turn right for the car park entrance. He approached the crossroads, indicated right….
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There was an almighty bang as Cecil began to manouvre the car. Shards of glass and metal shattered across the road. After that – there was silence. Cecil was not sure what happened. He was conscious, so therefore he was alive. However he was trapped. His vision was impaired by the airbag. it was impossible to move his limbs. Why was it so deathly quiet? In the distance there was the sound of voices in the distance. After a couple of minutes there was the sound of sirens in the distance. Help was on its way. His car had collided with oncoming traffic, his little Fiat flattened by a four wheel drive – or at least that is how it had felt. Pain set in and by the time the blue flashing lights appeared he was drifting in and out of consciousness.
Some time later Cecil opened his eyes to find himself lying in a hospital bed. He tried to move. It was hard. The pain in parts of his body was excruciating pats where he seemed to have lost all feeling. he could not move. The healing process was going to be long and slow. The weeks changed to months. Thankfully he could eat, he could breath and he could hear. He could even speak. It was clear he would not be playing the organ, not any time soon. his feet were lying useless in the bed and he had lost full use in one of his hands. Finally he was discharged from hospital in a wheelchair. His sister Mary had come to help. Carers had been arranged to assist with care in the home. Her children came at weekends to help and members of his church came to do what they could.
Cecil was angry. he felt useless. How could his life have changed so dramatically – so suddenly. He had been retired for some year from his job at the university. That had sometimes difficult for him to come to terms with. But now his life was finished. No more playing the hymns. no church every week. Having to rely on everyone all the time for everything he wanted to do. People avoided him because they really did not know what to say. he felt invisible – unwanted and unloved. The accident had not even been his fault. He had loved God all his life. And how had he been repaid? He’d lost the use of his legs and one of his arms. He could do nothing. He was totally dependent on his sister and his visitors. from professor to useless old man. He wished he were dead.
His doctor prescribed anti depressants as well as painkillers. Cecil continued to feel useless and hapless. He prayed to God –
“Why God? Why?” He could not find the answer and his faith began to waver. “I can do nothing for myself. I cannot wash myself. I cannot dress myself. I can barely feed myself. I am not even in a position to end it all. I am a burden to everyone who knows me.”
In spite of his anger and his loss of hope, as time went on the weight on his shoulder gradually began to lessen. He still felt a failure. He still felt he had lost everything. Even his life long belief in God began to fail him. He and his sister had had to dig deep financially to set in place much of his care. He had had to buy himself a large vehicle especially adapted to house him and his wheelchair. He needed help attending all too frequent hospital appointments. His friends patiently reminded themselves of the frustration and the anger which he must feel, and still gave him the calm love that they offered to all those who suffered.
Cecil began to accept that his life had undergone dramatic changes which he could not change. he began to think about the things in his life which were actually good. Instead of thinking with resentment about the things he had lost self respect, mobility, life without pain, playing the organ, driving. He could still speak, he could sing, he could read, he could smile. It made his family and friends so happy when he began to joke with them, and to chat without venting his frustration.
Instead of wishing he was dead and resenting his imprisonment in a wheel chair he accepted his new life style. People began to come to him to share their problems. Sometimes he was able to help them by sharing some of his own life or sharing wise words. Parishioners who were presenting with signs of low self worth came away from his house feeling better. His strength was encouraging people to see themselves as people rather than problems.
His family home was large enough for him to host church groups, it was easier that negotiating the issues travelling that albeit short distance to the church. So he moved from a situation where he thought he had lost everything to a place where he actually had more than he could have ever asked for. He had thought that God had forsaken him. But now he felt that after that accident he had been given greater gifts than he had ever had before.
There were still rough times ahead and obstacles to overcome. But he had learned to give love as well as receive. He no longer took life for granted. He had learned to find God’s blessings in every new experience.
“The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.”Job 42 :12