Category Archives: Virgil Fry

Fearful Courage

 I know fear.  Low-grade or full-blown anxiety.  Fretful worry. Recently I cleared out a stash of papers from 2006, the year my wife Caryl was on dialysis.  Reviewing the list of multiple doctor visits, hospitalizations, and medications surfaced intense feelings deeply buried in my psyche.  The fear, the anxiety became my unwelcome companions again for a while.

William Cowper, a well-known 18th century poet, knew fear as well. He periodically suffered several nervous breakdowns due to ravages of severe depression.  One such episode led him to seek to drown himself in a river.  Taking a horse-drawn carriage in Olney, England, the taxi driver surmised Cowper’s suicidal mindset and feigned getting lost in the fog.  Cowper eventually fell asleep.  Many hours later he was delivered back home.

Refreshed, he took his spared life as a gift, a sign from God.  And that led to the writing of the hymn still sung today:

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, the clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy, and shall break in blessings on your head.

(from “God Moves in a Mysterious Way)

Similarly, Scripture is replete with this divine message:  “Fear not.”  More than 80 times we hear “Be not afraid.”  Rabbi Jesus brings this assuring message from God’s lips:

Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends. The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself. (Luke 12:32, The Message)

 Jesus is a clear-eyed realist, knowing that fear can serve us well in emergencies.  Fear forces us to problem solve quickly, to consider what resources we have to survive danger.  Subsequently, though, previous traumas we’ve experienced can, if unacknowledged, continue to revisit us often.

Ongoing fear cripples us. Projecting unknown possible catastrophes that rarely happen is energy depleting.  Such fear robs us of the precious present.  Fear kills our creative spirit full of gratitude for our blessings.  Fear fades as we remember to embrace the full gifts of God’s grace and mercy in the scariest of places.

Mark Twain knew hardship and tragedy.  His personal response was this jewel:  “Courage is not the absence of fear…it is the ability to act in the presence of fear.”

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Self-Care for Caregivers

Listen to this 30 minute Pod Cast: Self-care for caregivers featuring licensed counselor Jennifer Christian interviewing Dr. Virgil Fry. Virgil podcast

Expecting the Unexpected

It may be counter-cultural, even in some churches, but lamenting is truly biblical. Bible readers find that faithful followers of Yahweh all encountered seasons of distress. And more than a few of them openly, verbally, took their distresses and disgusts right to the ears of their God.

They knew, they loved, they trusted in a God who was not immobile, not impotent, not distant. They knew God as one knows an actual loving parent, one open to all expressions: praise and dismay, thanksgiving and frustration.

And they are called faithful.

By: Virgil Fry

Hope for the Journey: He Will Direct our Paths through Illness

It’s not easy being seriously ill. Those I encounter at the cancer hospital will concur. As will those with heart failure, faithmental illness, addictions, long term stays in nursing homes or rehab centers. Or those who self manage chronic, some -days-are-better-than-others, illnessess.

Hospital patients can learn to flourish in trying circumstances, but it’s not easy. Being uprooted from one’s normal daily schedule forces us to tap into resources we’d rather not use. When health crisis hits, faith, family, finances, and future plans get shuffled. Even going home can be traumatic, for lifestyles must be adapted to accommodate limitations.

But perhaps our greatest life lessons are learned here. A normal, rarely uprooted routine can keep us self-satisfied and shallow. We might be lulled into failing to be a good family member, or good neighbor, or friend to the friendless. We might expect, or even demand, that God keep our lives smooth, trouble-free, and distant from suffers.

And then faith becomes a means to manage routine, rather than a means to encounter God deeply.

Once I was privileged to minister to Jane, an educator whose husband as in the final stages of leukemia demise, Jack had tried every medical option available with limited success. by the time I met him, he was comatose and unresponsive. Jane and her mother kept constant vigil over Jack, filling me with wonderful stories of this dying man’s incredible life of public and personal service to troubled adolescents.

At his death, we joined hands around Jack’s now restful body to pray and read the 23rd Psalm together. Gathering her belongings from the bedside, Jane began to relate how hard this battle had been, how consuming the hospitalizations were, how disrupted their lives had become.

Then she revealed her source of stamina as she quoted her favorite scripture: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path. (Proverbs 3:3-5)

For Jane, the rough journey had been manageable because of the grounding of those words, the deep commitment of her marriage vows, the emotional support of family, friends, and church members back home. It was not a battle she and Jack choose, but it was one they fought together.

May we all, with God’s help, find such grounding when turmoil strikes. May we also be grounding for others who need words of encouragement.

By, Virgil Fry D.Min., BCC

Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed

He knows not his own strength

that hath not met adversity. 

–        Ben Johnson

 

Lord God,

It’s one of those days.

The kind where everything surges, leaving me overwhelmed.

The kind I try to avoid, try to suppress, try to muster my energy to fight back.

But somehow, today it’s not working.

 

When others ask how I am, I answer, “Fine.”

When they question my aloofness, I smile.

When they push for honesty, I hesitate.

When they express concern, I thank them.

 

Why is it Lord, that there are days like this?

Do I dare ask? Do I really want to know?

 

In my mind’s eye, I rehearse other overwhelmed strugglers.

Like Moses, fed up with exasperating fellow wanderers.

Like Hannah, praying so earnestly that she was deemed drunk.

 

Bless them, Lord. May they be guided by the wisdom of You, the Great Physician. May they find fulfillment through investment of themselves in the care of others. May they continue to learn skill, patience, and worth for all Your creation. Bless their families who adjust schedules to accommodate the needs of others.

 

Lord God, Thank you for those whose vocation is medical care.

 

Through the name of the Ultimate Healer,

 

Amen.

 

Dr. Virgil M. Fry

from his book -Disrupted

 

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In the Valley of the Shadow When Grief and Loss Prevail

Death. To speak the work evokes deep sensations. Sometimes fear. Sometimes anger. Sometimes wonderment. Sometimes acceptance.

From the womb, we are created as survivors. The will to live is powerfully tenacious, a motivator stronger than despair. As do the animal and plant kingdoms, we fight death with our inmost being. We liken death to defeat, to being overtaken by an evil enemy.

Such imagery is not unbiblical. Utopian Garden of Eden quaked at the introduction of humans tasting death. Hebrew characters spent incredible amounts of energy defending the lives of thier people and themselves. The apex to the Christian narrative is a 30-plus year old carpenter’s son facing death squarely in the eye, all the while promising onlookers resurrection for himself and for them. The apostle Paul refers to death as the ultimate enemy, an enemy who has been de-fanged.

We spend our lifetimes dancing with death, though not always consciously. We know that nature’s life cycle depends upon the death of current residents. We acknowledge our daily bread comes at the cost of something dying on our behalf. We confront the harsh, ugly reality of death when a loved one dies, leaving us devastated and robbed.

The valley of the shadow of death is a place of loss, of bereavement, of unspeakable pain. But shadows, over time, lessen their impact as small amounts of light bring snippets of renewal.

With honest expressions of grief, with encouragement from fellow “losers,” and with time, God brings us new resevoirs of faith, hope, and love.

Author: Virgil Fry

First Colony Church of Christ

Invites you to a

SERVICE OF REMEMBRANCE


________________________________
Including calling of names of those
we hold dear in our hearts.
For anyone experiencing loss and grief
this holiday season

__________________________________
Sunday, December 20, 2009
4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Chapel: First Colony Church of Christ
2140 First Colony Blvd.
Sugar Land, TX 77479

Phone (281) 980-7070
http://www.first colonychurch.org