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If The Doctor Asks You… (via Kathryn Butler at Desiring God)

Last Saturday night I participated in a phone conversation that dealt with directions about various medical treatment choices that may or may not be needed for someone who is not capable of making those choices themselves.
I found this article by Kathryn Butler at Desiring God covered a lot of the considerations that were being put before us, and approaches how those options can be thought of from a biblical perspective.
It is more positive to have given some thought to this beforehand, and to have even discussed them with those for whom you may end up making choices (or who may be making them on your behalf).
Butler is/was a trauma and critical care surgeon, her reflections do not come from a place of pure theory.
Well worth a read:

Making life-or-death decisions for loved ones cripples many with feelings of guilt and doubt that persist for years, and which can progress to depression, complicated grief, chronic anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder.
So how do we make compassionate, Christ-honoring decisions about our loved ones’ care when the unthinkable happens? How do we discern the right path when time to reflect is nonexistent, and when the mind balks at the ramifications of our choices?

Read the whole post at Desiring God.


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Anger Management When The Anger Is With God (via Bonnie Zahl)

Anger with God is not unbelief.
It is an aspect of faith that has reached its current limitations.
Bonnie Zahl writes about the various ways in which a relationship with God will sometimes find us in pain and wrestling with him.
Being in relationship with other Christians we need to grow together in grace and patience to bear one another through these dark seasons.

In my many years of speaking with people who are angry at God, I have never met a person who told me that what they needed was a reminder of how to think correctly about their situation. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest the opposite: studies show that if people are made to feel judged, ashamed, or guilty about feeling angry at God, they are more likely to continue feeling angry at God, to reject God, and to use alcohol and other substances to cope. In contrast, people who said they were supported when they disclosed their anger reported greater engagement in their spiritual life and more spiritual growth as a result of the difficult experience.

Read the whole article at Mockingbird.


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Healthy Consumption Of A Digital Diet (via Harvard Business Review)

This article is measured and seeks to propose that the health effects of a digital overload need to be recognized and strategies developed to deal constructively with a problem that will not go away.
Though referenced in US terms, it would seem that Australia is not far removed from its central points:

Historians and clinicians may someday call this moment “peak content.” American adults now spend over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media—sometimes longer. That’s more time than we spend eating and sleeping. From YouTube videos to viral tweets, we are ingesting a huge volume of media, and it has consequences.
Out of this cloud of mood-altering material emerges a new set of health challenges. One in five Americans is clinically depressed. Tens of millions more suffer from mild to moderate anxiety and other mood disorders. But current research doesn’t yet support a clear and causal link. More work is required to understand the complex relationship between media diets and depression–mood disorders are not a new phenomenon, even if suicide rates appear to be increasing. The technologies fueling our media consumption are outpacing the rate of scientific inquiry, making real or verifiable effects hard to understand and perhaps harder study appropriately.
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Now is the moment to pursue a three-pronged approach to all digital encounters: literacy, hygiene, and labeling. We have the opportunity of a lifetime to re-shape our still primitive and often unruly digital culture into a safer, healthier, more rewarding domain.

Read the whole post at Harvard Business Review.


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God Moves In A Mysterious Way – The Legacy Hymn Of William Cowper

Scott Hubbard writes about William Cowper, who on New Year’s Day 1773 was about to slip into a depression that would remain for the rest of his life.
Anticipating that descending darkness Cowper wrote the hymn God Moves In A Mysterious Way.
From Hubbard’s article:

… before night fell on Cowper’s soul, he sat in the light of his remaining sanity, took up his pen, and wrote a hymn that has strengthened generations of staggering saints through their various shadows.
Take Courage
Cowper’s hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” is a song for every saint who sits on the edge. It is a guide for all who do not see fresh hopes rising over the horizon of the new year. It is a confession of faith in the face of darkness — one that flickers with enough light to carry us through whatever midnights this year brings.
At the heart of the hymn is a simple exhortation: “Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take.” Take courage. Take courage when the clouds come thundering toward you. Take courage when the coming days seem covered in shadow. Take courage when you cannot understand God’s ways.
But why, we ask in the valley, should we take courage? Throughout the rest of the hymn, Cowper gives his reasons.

Read the rest of the post at Desiring God.

Here’s Nathan Tasker’s rendition of the hymn.
I wanted a version that has the lyrics to the forefront.


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Ten Bible Passages For Severe Illness (via Kathryn Butler)

This article by Kathryn Butler at Desiring God features ten Bible verses/passages that speak of the presence of God’s love to those who are suffering.
It is helpful in encouraging Christians to remember these verses for their own encouragement, and also, of course, to share with others.
It is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a helpful start.
Five are from Psalms and five are from the New Testament.

PSALM 46:1–3
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”
2 CORINTHIANS 4:16–18
“Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Read the whole article here.


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Therapeutic Lying (via Larissa MacFarquhar at The New Yorker)

An in-depth article in The New Yorker dealing with dementia care and the way its practictioners struggle with the lying and untruths that are part of the life of carers and patients.
Over the decades and even within among practitioners differing points of view and practices have been dominant and then given way to others.
Consider what it is to work day by day in a world where truth is often judged as being what the patient needs to hear.

In dementia care, everybody lies. Although some nursing homes have strict rules about being truthful, a recent survey found that close to a hundred per cent of care staff admitted to lying to patients, as did seventy per cent of doctors. In most places, as in Chagrin Valley, there is no firm policy one way or another, but the rule of thumb among the staff is that compassionate deception is often the wisest course. “I believe that deep down, they know that it is better to lie,” Barry B. Zeltzer, an elder-care administrator, wrote in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias. “Once the caregiver masters the art of being a good liar and understands that the act of being dishonest is an ethical way of being, he or she can control the patient’s behaviors in a way that promotes security and peace of mind.” Family members and care staff lie all the time, and can’t imagine getting through the day without doing so, but, at the same time, lying makes many of them uncomfortable. To ease this “deception guilt,” lying in dementia care has been given euphemistic names, such as “therapeutic fibbing,” or “brief reassurances,” or “stepping into their reality.”

Read The Comforting Fictions Of Dementia Care at The New Yorker.