Friday, 21 February 2020

Our Disappointments

By J.P. Thackway

And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? 1 Samuel 16:1

Because of his rebellion and disobedience, Saul lost the throne of Israel. The Lord will give it to another, and begin a new dynasty of kings. We know this will be David and his line, all the way down to the coming of Christ (Luke 2:4). For Samuel, however, this was a desperate disappointment.

The Lord spoke the words of our text to the prophet when he was back in Ramah, away from public duties. Perhaps he had returned to the sons of the prophets, instructing them. Matthew Henry in his Commentary reckoned he would find more satisfaction in prophets than in princes!


Samuel had not got over the rejection of Saul, “How long wilt thou mourn for Saul?” The Lord gently rebukes him, but also assures him that there is better to come, “fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Beth-lehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.”

In the Lord’s dealings with Samuel we have some lessons concerning disappointment – how to view it, and how to overcome it. Disappointment is a fact of life in a fallen world. Charlotte Brontë wrote, doubtless from personal experience, “Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation.”


We do not refer, of course, to heaven. There are no disappointments there. We can say, in the prayer of David, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (Psalm 17:15). In heaven we will exclaim, “until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me” (1 Kings 10:7). In the light of all our disappointed hopes we can feelingly say, “Heaven will make amends for all.”

The Lord

Neither do we for a moment imagine we will find any disappointment in the Lord. What He is to us goes beyond infinite beauty, all-surpassing excellence, never-failing love and goodness. “They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded” (Psalm 22:5). As the Puritan Alexander Grosse put it, “When Christ reveals Himself there is satisfaction in the slenderest portion, and without Christ there is emptiness in the greatest fulness.”

This life

It is in this life that we meet disappointments. It may be 2019 was a year when events fell short of expectations. Hopeful signs of someone’s conversion has ended fruitless. A fellow Christian has turned against you. Setbacks and failures are your circumstances. Devoted labour for the Lord appears unblessed. It may be that already in 2020 something has happened to let you down. If we dwell on these, like Samuel over Saul, it will do us no good and will bring us even further into sadness and self-pity.

Our text assures us there is a providence is every disappointment, whatever it is. And we may yet see the Lord making it up to us. We can learn lessons from Samuel’s disappointment, and the Lord’s gracious dealings with him to bring him out of it. Samuel witnessed Saul’s failure, but he went on to anoint David, who was the best king Israel had. Concerning disappointment, consider:


“How long wilt thou mourn for Saul?” It is clear that Samuel loved Saul like a father. He had great hopes for him. This was gracious of the prophet, given the people of Israel rejected him and demanded a king instead. To begin with, Samuel’s hopes for Saul seemed justified and would be realised.

1] Saul had humility and yet zeal for God.

These qualities are summed up when Samuel reminded Saul, “When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?” (1 Samuel 15:17). “Before honour is humility” (Proverbs 15:33) and some telling examples appear in Saul. Being told that he will be king, he commendably exclaims, “Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?” (1 Samuel 9:21; see also 10:22,27).

Saul’s zeal blazes when he learns of the Ammonites’ humiliating threat to the men of Jabesh (11:6). The Spirit of God empowers him, and he gathers an army to go to their rescue, and the enemy is routed (11:11). His generosity of spirit comes with equal zeal in refusing to have his detractors put to death, “There shall not a man be put to death this day: for to day the LORD hath wrought salvation in Israel” (11:13).

All this seemed to bode well for Saul and Israel. The joint virtues of humility and zeal are rare. There is a kind of humility that shrinks from venturing in the Lord’s service and becomes an excuse. Moses sought refuge here (Exodus 3:11), as did Gideon and Jeremiah (Judges 6:15; Jeremiah 1:6). But when that humility drives us to the Lord for His promised sufficiency, then it is a sanctified grace and, “when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

There is also a zeal that can forget humility. Any triumph, and self-congratulation can raise its ugly head. Hezekiah was tested on this point. Zealous for reformation, and granted fifteen more years, the congratulatory visit from Babylonian ambassadors was enough for his heart to be “lifted up with pride” (2 Chronicles 32:25). However, King Saul combined humility and zeal in their places, and promised much.

2] Tragically, Saul became rebellious and disobedient.

At his best, he lasted for “two years” (1 Samuel 13:1). The subsequent chapters in 1 Samuel chronicle his presumptuousness, devious disobedience, jealousy of David and relentless persecution, the murder of the priests of Nob, his angry attempts upon his son Jonathan, resorting to the witch of Endor, and in the end his suicide. The higher a man rises in profession and promise the further he falls in backsliding and apostasy. Saul stands as a warning: “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). The best way never to fall is ever to fear.

3] He clearly was never converted.

“Another heart” (1 Samuel 10:9) is not the same as “a new heart” (Ezekiel 36:26). Saul had gifts and common grace that equipped him for kingship, but not regeneration and a saving relationship with God. Such people cannot last in their promising qualities. It is the test of time. But it is a hard disappointment when such professors come to nothing. Christian parents have this heartache over their unconverted children, ministers in the hopeful signs that vanish in anxious souls, Sunday School teachers with little children that promised fair, those whom we witness to but remain unsaved. If the heart is not changed, the life and the future course can never change. We, too, “mourn” for those who come to no more than Saul did.

4] Maybe Samuel set too much store by Saul.

“Wilt thou mourn for Saul?” He had “kissed” Saul at his anointing (1 Samuel 10:1), showed fatherly affection, and set much store by him. How bitter is the disappointment that hoped for great things from a hypocrite and apostate! Only the Lord can fulfil our hopes of the best in others. Matthew Henry wisely wrote, “We cannot expect too little from man nor too much from God.”


“How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel?” There is a gentle rebuke in the Lord’s words. It is not wrong, of course, to grieve over something like this; it is overmuch grieving that is wrong: “how long wilt thou mourn.” Maybe Samuel was also praying for Saul’s recovery and reinstatement. Why is too much sorrow over disappointment wrong?

1] It reflects unfavourably upon the Lord.

It is certainly right to mourn over others’ sins (Psalm 119:136). However, if we are inconsolable over a certain individual, what are we saying about the Lord’s sovereign dispensations? That He should not have let it to be like this? That, in this instance, He should have made Saul to be as David was? But it was not so, and the difference between Saul and David was divinely-meant to be. There comes a time when we must bow to the sovereign hand and loving heart of God.

2] It flies in the face of Providence.

“I have rejected him from being king.” This was for just and wise reasons – the Lord never acts in any other way. Yet to grieve too much is to call this into question. Allowing disappointment to upset and overwhelm us is mild rebellion against the God we love. We are not reconciled to His ways. Do we know better than the Lord? Far better to heed Job’s words, “For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him” (Job 23:14).

3] Samuel imagines that God can only work by Saul.

“Mourn for Saul.” The prophet’s distress was partly from concern for Israel’s future. However, could Saul be the only king? Is this the only provision the Lord can make? Perhaps Samuel fears this is a loss that cannot be made up. But this is to limit the Almighty, who “is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another” (Psalm 75:7).

4] This is something decreed by God.

The prophesy of Jacob in Genesis 49:10 runs, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” This tells us that the line of kings (“sceptre”) leading to the Messiah (“Shiloh”) will be of the tribe of “Judah.” This is David’s tribe; Saul belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. Christ must come of David’s line (Judah); therefore, Saul must fail, and David succeed him. Saul was the people’s choice rather than God’s ideal and could never last. Although Saul was responsible for his disobedience and rejection, yet his fall and replacement is ordained by God to fulfil His purpose.

Here we have an example of human responsibility and divine sovereignty.

The relationship between the two is a mystery to us, but is a fact of divine revelation. They are not antagonistic to each other nor conflicting. The Bible sees them as complementary and harmonious. As Spurgeon put it, “I do not need to reconcile divine sovereignty and human responsibility because I do not need to reconcile friends.” 

A further example is the role of Judas Iscariot and our Lord. Judas was to be the betrayer in prophecy, “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9 cp John 13:18); and in destiny, “the son of perdition” (John 17:12). Yet, he was a free agent, who of his own volition coveted money and betrayed the Lord for thirty pieces of silver. He is fully responsible for his actions, although those actions are ordained by the Most High.

Therefore, for Samuel, his disappointment was meant to be and had to be. We must see our every disappointment in this light. If we do this, it helps us. It is not failure or debacle or things going to pieces. Behind it all the Lord is working out His higher purpose and wider plan. It is the sovereignty of a kind, all-wise heavenly Father who knows the end from the beginning and is working His purpose out to perfection.


“Fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Beth-lehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.” In these words,

1] The Lord assures Samuel that He has something better than Saul.

We can place two parts of our text together: “I have rejected … I have provided.” God only raises a disappointment to give us something better to make up for it. We must believe this, and not allow disappointment to hold us back. In this sense, we can be like Paul, “this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Philippians 3:13).

2] Samuel can move on.

“Fill thine horn with oil, and go, etc.” There is the next thing now. Here is comfort in the continuing purposes of God. David is going to be better than Saul could ever be. The golden age of Israel is coming. And God’s purposes will run all the way down to the coming of His Son in the fulness of time. There is always the next time – and who knows what more will come of what the Lord does? Do not see your disappointments as wholly negative. They are divinely positive. This is captured in a helpful poem by Laura Sophia Soole in 1893. Let us go into 2020 with this blessed assurance.

DISAPPOINTMENT — His appointment

Change one letter, then I see
That the thwarting of my purpose
Is God’s better choice for me.
His appointment must be blessing
Though it may come in disguise;
For the end from the beginning
Open to His wisdom lies.

“Disappointment — His appointment;”
Whose? The Lord who loves me best,
Understands and knows me fully,
Who my faith and love would test.
For, like loving earthly parents,
He rejoices when He knows
That His child accepts unquestioned
All that from His wisdom flows.

“Disappointment — His appointment;”
“No good thing will He withhold;”
From denials oft we gather
Treasures of His love untold.
Well He knows each broken purpose
Leads to fuller, deeper trust,
And the end of all His dealings
Proves our God is wise and just.

“Disappointment — His appointment;”
Lord, I take it then as such,
Like the clay in hands of potter,
Yielding wholly to Thy touch.
All my life’s plan is Thy moulding,
Not one single choice be mine;
Let me answer unrepining,
Father, “Not my will, but Thine.”

“Disappointment — His appointment;”
Change the letter, then, dear friend,
Take in cheerful acquiescence
All Thy Father’s love may send;
Soon will faith be lost in vision,
Then in glory thou shalt see
“His appointment”, and that only,
Was the right way Home for thee.

by Rev. John Thackway, Pastor of Holywell Evangelical Church

Used with kind permission of the author

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Statement: What’s next for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on ME?

Statement: What’s next for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on ME? | 19 February 2020

Dr Charles Shepherd, Hon. Medical Adviser, ME Association.

This is a joint statement issued by #MEAction and The ME Association.

“We will be pressing for better treatment programmes for those living with ME” Carol Monaghan, MP, Chair, APPG on M.E.

#MEAction and The ME Association are both delighted that Carol Monaghan (MP for Glasgow North-West) has re-established the new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on M.E.

This is a parliamentary initiative for which The ME Association will be providing secretariat support. The purpose of the APPG is to seek to improve health, social care, education and employment opportunities for M.E. sufferers and encourage biomedical research into the cause and treatment of M.E.

Ms. Monaghan has campaigned tirelessly on behalf of the ME community and has led several important debates that culminated last year with M.E. being discussed in the House of Commons. Her continued support is very much appreciated by all concerned.

We’d also like to thank the MPs who supported these debates and who attended the inaugural AGM of the new APPG on 14 January 2020, and all those in the patient community who encouraged their MPs to attend.

Key areas of concern

The AGM established the topics that the APPG on M.E. will cover, including:

  • Access to healthcare
  • Access to financial support and welfare benefits
  • Protection for children with M.E.
  • Biomedical research spending by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

These were agreed upon with the addition of the following:

  • Economic and societal impact of M.E. as a justification for additional spending (which was suggested by Stephen Metcalfe MP), and,
  • Medical diagnosis (which was suggested by Olivia Blake MP).

A further aim of the new APPG is to produce a key report on issues impacting M.E. sufferers.

#MEAction and The ME Association will continue to lobby parliament to encourage greater support for people with M.E. and we believe that the APPG on M.E. is one of the best ways to achieve this positive change.

Biomedical research

The next meeting of the APPG will be on Tuesday 3rd March, from 1 – 2 pm.

It will provide an opportunity for MPs to learn about issues and developments in biomedical research and funding through a series of short presentations and a Q&A discussion.

There will several specialist guest speakers who will discuss their research: Professor Julia Newton from Newcastle University, Professor Chris Ponting from the University of Edinburgh and a representative from the UK ME Biobank.

Please contact your MP

If you haven’t been in touch with your MP about the APPG but would like to invite them to attend the meeting in March, you can find information on how to contact them (and an email template) here or here.

We would recommend that you raise issues with your own MPs in the first instance and encourage them to attend the APPG meetings where such concerns can be discussed. It might prove more effective if you consider contacting local support groups and make a joint approach to your MP.

We suggest you refer all MPs to Carol Monaghan’s office for more information and for the location of the upcoming meetings.

MPs who attended first meeting

Below is a list of the MPs that attended the first meeting in January 2020 as well as officer’s roles:

  • Carol Monaghan MP (Chair)
  • Sharon Hodgson MP (Co-Chair)
  • Stephen Metcalfe MP (Co-Chair)
  • Ben Lake MP (Vice Chair)
  • Hywel Williams MP (Secretary)
  • Olivia Blake MP (Treasurer)

  • Deidre Brock MP
  • Fiona Bruce MP
  • Wayne David MP
  • James Davies MP
  • Mary Glindon MP
  • Robert Goodwill MP
  • Margaret Greenwood MP
  • Dame Diana Johnson MP
  • Sally-Ann Hart MP
  • Kerry McCarthey MP
  • Navendu Mishra MP
  • Gavin Newlands MP
  • Jonathan Reynolds MP
  • Alex Sobel MP
  • James Sunderland MP
  • Stephen Timms MP
  • Michael Tomlinson MP
  • Liz Twist MP

Friday, 7 February 2020

What is ME?

Video produced by A Broken Battery 

From the description on the webpage – 

ME is “a life-altering debilitating disease affecting the brain, the immune system and energy metabolism. The defining symptom of ME is that even minimal exertion can cause a flare in symptoms (a crash) that can last for days, weeks or even months.

Severity ranges from mild to very severe. Around 25% are house or bedbound, unable to properly care for themselves, sometimes for many years or decades at a time. The majority of severely affected patients are unable to access any services and are not offered home visits or specialist inpatient care. People with ME have a lower quality of life than people with Stroke, Cancer, Heart disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid arthritis. ME is not taught in most medical schools despite it affecting 15-30 million worldwide.

The WHO classified ME as neurological in 1969 but 80% of doctors still believe its psychosomatic. Many doctors still don't know that over the last 35 years there have been over 9000 scientific publications that compared people with the illness to healthy people and they find a whole variety of abnormalities, like energy metabolism.

Dr Nina Muirhead ME Patient and Specialist Surgeon in Dermatology - The NICE guidelines “do not fit” with the patient experience and “perpetuated my misunderstanding” of ME by recommending Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Graded Exercise. NICE is currently updating its guidance, which is expected in October 2020. The  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US dropped Graded Exercise and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as treatments for ME in 2017.

Patient surveys consistently report that Graded Exercise makes over 50% of patients worse. “In the absence of effective treatments, patients who are given a period of enforced rest from the onset have the best prognosis”. Pacing was consistently shown to be the most effective, safe, acceptable and preferred form of activity management”.

(See the webpage at the address above for references.)

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world

C H Spurgeon's Morning Devotional for 5th February

"The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world."

1 John 4:14

It is a sweet thought that Jesus Christ did not come forth without His Father's permission, authority, consent, and assistance. He was sent of the Father, that He might be the Saviour of men. We are too apt to forget that, while there are distinctions as to the persons in the Trinity, there are no distinctions of honour. We too frequently ascribe the honour of our salvation, or at least the depths of its benevolence, more to Jesus Christ than we do the Father. This is a very great mistake. What if Jesus came? Did not His Father send Him? If He spake wondrously, did not His Father pour grace into His lips, that He might be an able minister of the new covenant? He who knoweth the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost as he should know them, never setteth one before another in his love; he sees them at Bethlehem, at Gethsemane, and on Calvary, all equally engaged in the work of salvation. O Christian, hast thou put thy confidence in the Man Christ Jesus? Hast thou placed thy reliance solely on Him? And art thou united with Him? Then believe that thou art united unto the God of heaven. Since to the Man Christ Jesus thou art brother, and holdest closest fellowship, thou art linked thereby with God the Eternal, and "the Ancient of days" is thy Father and thy friend. Didst thou ever consider the depth of love in the heart of Jehovah, when God the Father equipped His Son for the great enterprise of mercy? If not, be this thy day's meditation. The Father sent Him! Contemplate that subject. Think how Jesus works what the Father wills. In the wounds of the dying Saviour see the love of the great I AM. Let every thought of Jesus be also connected with the Eternal, ever-blessed God, for "It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief."

Saturday, 1 February 2020

ICD Classification

From the ME Research UK website –

A revised version of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11) is due to be implemented in January 2022.

The ICD is the diagnostic classification standard for all clinical and research purposes, and is therefore highly influential. Its many uses include identifying health trends, and monitoring and reporting diseases, resource allocation, safety and quality.

ICD-11 will include a new classification, Bodily Distress Disorder, which is defined as “characterized by the presence of bodily symptoms that are distressing to the individual and excessive attention directed toward the symptoms, which may be manifest by repeated contact with health care providers”.

There have been understandable concerns that ME/CFS would be grouped under this diagnosis of Bodily Distress Disorder in the new revision, which might mean that individuals with the illness would be directed through psychiatric care.

However, thanks to the sterling efforts of campaigners over many years, ICD-11 will NOT include Postviral Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Benign Myalgic Encephalomyelitis under the new classification.

At the moment, ICD-10 lists Benign Myalgic Encephalomyelitis in the ‘Diseases of the nervous system’ heading, under PostViral Fatigue Syndrome (Block 93.3, ICD 10th revision, 2007), as follows:

  • Diseases of the nervous system
  • Other disorders of brain
  • Other disorders of the nervous system
  • G93.3 Postviral fatigue syndrome
  • Benign myalgic encephalomyelitis

ICD-11 will list both Benign Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome separately, but still under ‘Diseases of the nervous system’ and Postviral Fatigue Syndrome (Block 8E49, ICD 11th revision, 2019), as follows:

  • Diseases of the nervous system
  • Other disorders of the nervous system
  • 8E49 Postviral fatigue syndrome
  • Benign myalgic encephalomyelitis
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome