THE POWER OF CHRIST’S PASSION
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34
This is the prayer of Jesus to those who have put him on that cross. While others would seek for revenge and feel anger, what He, the Son of God, offered was a prayer. In here, Jesus shows us the compassion in his heart. He forgives. He loves, without exemption…
The Passion of Christ streams from God’s intense love for mankind. That in order to save us, He gave His only begotten son, taking the very nature of a lowly servant, dying just to save us. His passion is not just represented from the time He was taken captive from the Garden of Gethsemane to crucifixion; it is the very life of Jesus itself.
Like Jesus, we too carry our own cross – of problems, sufferings, and losses. And it is always a challenge to follow the path taken by Jesus, offering every bit of pain to His Father.
Let us look at the story of Esmirna “Esi” Ortega Dominguez, a member of Singles for Christ, United Arab Emirates, as she shares one of her life’s greatest challenges, channelling the sufferings to God’s love.
Esi got back from her annual vacation from the Philippines this January 2012. However, she had to come back to the Manila after a month. Many of her friends were wondering why. After a few more weeks, she was back to Dubai, only to file for another 6 months leave. On her Facebook blog, she explains everything. Below are some excerpts from her blog.
BLOG ENTRY #1
…January 21, 2012, evening – I was experiencing intense pain in the left mid part of my tummy. When I woke up the next day, I felt a lump on my neck. My roommates noticed it and they suggested that I should go for a check-up. That night, I also treated myself with hot compress. I felt bloated and hardness in my tummy and extreme headache. Once I burp, only then I can experience comfort and can go back to sleep. During those days also, I noticed I lost my appetite.
I headed to Prime Medical in Dubai for a check up and I requested for ultrasound. After 5 days, the result says that I have dilated intestines. In doubt with all the comments given by the medical practitioner, I decided to inform my employer for a sick leave from Feb 11-March 22. Before leaving Dubai, that evening I was sleepless due to extreme stomach pains, I decided to read a Bible verse and found this one:
Jeremiah 33:3-18 ….CALL TO ME AND I WILL ANSWER YOU…I WILL RESTORE AND HEAL THIS CITY
From then on I claimed this verse in my heart.
March 3 – All the results came and the doctors concluded its Gastric Cancer. Stage 4.
March 4, in the morning – My friends from SFC was in the airport at 5 am. Heading to my accommodation, I saw my roommates prepare a welcome note at my wall. I cried and prayed to God to heal me because I still want to spend more time with these friends He gave me… I slept until 9am and my brother in CFC called me saying in case I need aid in transportation he can help me. I visited the office at 12 pm and everyone warmly welcomed me and I was able to talk to my boss and everything was settled. Thank God I was granted 6 months leave. My only concern was how I can sustain my financial needs, especially my sister Isabelle is still in her 3rd year high school. I have plans for her till college and wanting to provide the best school for her. I was determined to give her the best education, which also gave me a reason not to give up easily.
While waiting, I just savoured every moment spent with my family at home. Once in a while, I experience pain, especially in late evenings, after the medicine. I just grab my prayer book and anoint myself with oil and meditate till I fall asleep. Funny thing, my 3rd sister was asking me for a bucket list. I told her maybe I could ask her to do bungee jumping for me (Haha). But I told her my only wish is that they could go back to a Christian community to get closer to God.
BLOG ENTRY #2
Dear Friends in Christ,
I hope all is blessed today and wishing each of you will feel God’s warm embrace as you read this.
Last March 18, it was surprisingly busy for my family when most of my relatives and friends dropped by our house in Caloocan for a visit. In the evening, a few more friends from high school, paid a visit. It really feels good seeing old friends and classmates. How I wish I have enough strength to hug them tight, but I was simply lying there and just praying that they may also feel my deepest gratitude… how happy I am with their presence.
At 9 pm, I told my mom I have to go to the toilet. I was praying inside for every deep breath. I just kept on repeating “Jesus, You are my healer. Jesus, I love you always. Jesus, I offer this pain to You, Lord”, until I have exhausted the last energy left in me to finish. When I opened the bathroom door, my mom was shocked to see me in sweat, pale and with my legs shaking. Only then did I realize I was already 45 minutes in the bathroom and I should have taken my morphine 30 minutes ago that resulted to further sharp pain in my right tummy. I was struggling again. While in bed, I asked my mom to call a priest. I wanted to take Holy Communion and confession. I took morphine already, but the pain existed. My sister Chris, opened her prayer book and she was reading Psalms 91 in front of me, to which my best friend Tintin sent an SMS similar to what my sister Chris is praying.
Psalm 91: Those who go to the God most high for safety will be protected by God all powerful. I will say to the Lord “You are my place of safety and protection. You are my God and I trust in You. God will save you from the hidden traps and from deadly diseases”
I joined in praying,” Jesus I offer my life to You. I will praise You all the days of my life. Whether good or bad things happen, I will remain loving You.” The priest came and he started doing Anointing of the Sick rites. I underwent confession, communion and after receiving the Eucharist, the pain subsided till I fell asleep.
March 19 – The next day, my family and I were getting ready to go to Medical Center Manila, confident that everything is settled with the insurance agent. At 9 am, when we headed for admissions, the front desk informed us that they are not aware about any insurance agent coordinating with us. I felt a little upset and my mom, and Alvie, my sister, headed to billing and collections and made phone calls with my insurance. While me, lifeless, sitting on the wheel chair, eyes closed, prayed and said “Lord, I leave everything to you”. So my mom decided to pay initial deposit, but then the local agent called my sister and he explained….He was saying he submitted the Insurance Letter of Guarantee at THE MEDICAL CITY and not at Medical Center Manila. I guess it was a blessing in disguise. We struggled a little bit, but we headed around 3pm to the Medical City. We just felt thankful to God because He led us to a better hospital, with better facilities.
My sister, Chrisene, while at home, was praying for us while we’re trying to fix my hospital admission. She sent another SMS. She has opened the Bible and read through Isaiah 35:4
“Say to those whose hearts are frightened, Be Strong and fear not, here is our God and he comes with vindication, with divine recompense he comes to save you.” Which is very similar to what my cousin Debbie sent to me last March 15, Isaiah 46:3-4 about the greatness and faithfulness of our God being the sustainer and our protector.
2 Kings 20:5-6 “Return and say to Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David, I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. And I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake,”
And I claimed these God’s words in my heart. I feel blessed that the Lord is using my friends and family to supply me with God’s promises, despite my frail body unable to read the bible due to dizziness. They read the Bible for me.
That night, at the hospital, I was on the 8th floor with an overview of the city and I could see the clouds. I praised God for this place He has settled for me. I asked them to keep the windows open so I can pray and have a nice view of heaven ^_^. Series of tests came. They took blood test… results are ok.
March 20, 2012, 5.30 am – They woke me up for my portha cath surgery procedure, then at10 am, they brought me back to my room, feeling better, painless and feeling normal as ever. In my heart, I prayed “Thank You Lord”. I miss this feeling of being healthy and I started asking for some food to have before my whole body bone scan at 2 pm. They took a whole body bone scan. You know what? Results are normal! Halleluiah!!!, No bones are affected with the metastized lesions.
So they decided to commence my 1st Chemotherapy. I don’t know what happened next. I was sleeping the entire session. All I remembered the last thing I said, was…”All of this will be for God’s glory!”
March 21, morning – I am now drinking 6 different tablets…for pain, dizziness, vomiting, chemo drugs. Before I swallow each of these tablets, I just pray that each tablet will be instrumental to my healing. My 2nd chemo session will be at Medical City in Ortigas on April 11. We were discharged at 2pm, with another blessing. Thank you for the company insurance, I am paid and I left the hospital bringing along 369,000 peso-worth of hospital bills fully charged to my company insurance! To God be all the Glory!
Till now I thank the Lord that I haven’t taken any rescue drugs yet. It means I’m pain free
Thank you so much for all your messages, prayers, I may not be able to respond one by one to your messages, but all of your names are in my heart and I also pray to God to give you all double portion of blessings for every prayer you have given me.
Esi is currently undergoing series of tests for her full healing and recovery. As I am writing this article, she made another blog update, saying she’s feeling so much better now. Meeting a cancer survivor at a church service, being able to stand for 30 minutes for the praise fest, having a great appetite over Jollibee and washing the dishes… these things that we often take for granted but brings extreme joy to her heart. As she says, ““Use your strength in doing stuff that can only….I MEAN THIS…ONLY THAT CAN PLEASE GOD! No matter how menial or how great that task is…whether you are at work, at home, in school, WHEREVER YOU ARE AND MOST ESPECIALLY AT YOUR MOMENTS OF ISOLATION, USE YOUR STRENGTH and DO THINGS THAT PLEASES GOD ALONE. It’s not easy to always be in God’s grace, we’re not spiritually high all the time…and that’s the truest test….especially in our toughest moments, do we still hold onto God?”
The time Esi went back to Dubai for a week, before undergoing her first chemo, she paid the SFC Choir a visit, and I remembered her telling us, “I can’t wait to stand on stage, face everyone and testify to God’ amazing love and faithfulness”. That was the only time tears welled from her eyes. She did not cry while she was telling us about the physical pains she went through (She was even joking about that). I was amazed. What I saw that night was like a human form of “faith”. Maybe she has no clue, that even before she stands on stage, she is already inspiring a lot of people by the way she carries her cross. Her sisters are reading the bible more often, her family grew stronger in faith, friends coming together, trading their personal prayer times for a sister, people from different Christian communities coming to pray in unity for the healing of one soul. In truth, it was not only Esi, but everyone who knows her is being reminded that in every pain there is a God so merciful and loving whom we can all turn to. Through her sickness, Esi saw the power of prayer and faith working on her. She surrenders everything to God, just like what Jesus did while he was being persecuted…
The amount of love Jesus had to give us is hard to comprehend. How He gave his life for such sinners. And we, as sinners might think, “How can I follow feat of such sacrifice?” We may have not experienced the same pain and sufferings as Jesus did, but everyone is carrying his own cross. The question now lies with how we are handling our own struggles. Are we following the path as Jesus did? Accepting, forgiving and trusting God, or are we ‘too tired’ to even carry our own cross? Blaming God for the sufferings we feel we don’t deserve… neglecting His presence because we think we can do everything on our own. My brothers and sisters, if we think Jesus’ way of loving God is too grand for us to pursue, then let’s remember the story of Esi, one of our sisters in Christ, so much like me and you, and see how she uses the same passion as Jesus had to overcome life’s greatest battles…
May everyone reading this article continue to pray for her healing…
Sis Grace Ababan, SFC-UAE