Most of us seek to avoid pain, or we choose our pain carefully. I like the burn of a good healthy bike-ride or an exhilarating swim. For my husband, a good hike through the woods or a day spent antiquing is worth the pain, occasionally. He has been known to stand for hours outside our rented church building and discuss theology with friends. That night he will inevitably pay for this indulgence with a sleepless, pain-filled repose.
Other pain we have zero control over. Not one of us would have chosen stage 4 breast cancer for their personal pain. Paul addresses this in Phillipians. “Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, and again I say rejoice.” We might be smiling through the rain of tears down our cheeks, but we always, always have something to smile about as a child of the heavenly Father. “In the LORD” causes us to remember His sweet, undeserved love. In addition to His love which has been shed abroad in our hearts, He gives us many tangible gifts- family, friends, the beauties of nature, and one of my personal favorites, chocolate.
Just a few moments ago, I was enjoying a beautiful smile, and thinking of the many (but still far too few) moments of love and laughter my sister-in-law Jessica and I have shared. I think some of her most beautiful, radiant smiles have appeared since her diagnosis with stage 4 breast cancer. She KNOWS from the bottom of her heart that her God LOVES her and is WITH her. Thank you, Jessica, for modeling Philippians 4:4 for your family and friends. In return, let us love you like Christ loves us, and lay down our lives and sacrifice in special ways for you and your family’s well-being.
I’ve been away from my blog for about a month. Staying connected is always more challenging when you are in crisis mode. My brother and sister-in-love, newly weds of only four years with a beautiful family of two babies, have been broadsided by personal tragedy. I’ve been actively trying in my limited way with limited resources to recruit help for them and to spend time by their side as they deal with the fall-out of breast cancer.
Appropriately this morning’s sermon was on the topic of suffering from Job 2:1-10. Job is a byword for suffering down through the ages. Suffering is a current, ongoing event. Several fellow-sufferers were present at the morning worship. I personally chatted with a father of 6 who is currently undergoing cancer treatment. Another dear friend and sister is concerned that her husband’s Lyme disease has reoccurred just at his busiest season of contracting work. Prayers were lifted up for a husband and wife who are both suffering from life-threatening illnesses.
When someone you love suffers, you are reminded of your own frailty and helplessness. The beautiful yet painful remedy is to throw yourself at feet of the Sovereign of the universe. “… Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” Job rebukes his faithless wife (Job 2:10). Whatever the process, whatever the outcome, “I know that my Redeemer lives,and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” Job 19:25
Dear fellow sister, if you are often discouraged at the suffering which you are a silent witness to, remember there are others who share in your sadness. Connect yourself to the fellowship and come alongside those who suffer. Bow your knee to the will of the King of Kings who will one day destroy Death itself. In the great and final end we will truly see “the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (KJV James 5:11)