It was Easter weekend, and Spring was in full bloom! We anticipated an Easter dinner with dear friends, even as my husband mentioned he wasn’t feeling well as we headed out the door. We went anyway, but as the day progressed, my husband’s decline became alarming. The events that followed would land us in the ER…and start us on a frustrating journey, desperately searching for a diagnosis. Hours turned into weeks, that turned into months, that turned into years–all the possibilities ruled-out–with no explanation for my husband’s strange illness, which left him physically disabled and our family straining at the seams. How cruel that this happened on Easter–the celebration of Life–when ours had been destroyed. C.S. Lewis referred to pain as “God’s megaphone”…well, He had our attention…and we were hurting!
No, thanks! I choose what’s behind the OTHER door, thank you very much!?! The hard questions of “Why us?” and “If God is good, why would He allow this?” rattled around in my head, as I became the primary caretaker for my husband, who was wrestling with his own questions with God. That was the process that brought us confused and weary, searching for answers, to Life Ministries and my Life Group.
My Life Group! I discovered REAL women, dealing with real trials, that challenged my view of God and how this life was supposed to work. I found a soft landing and a safe place to wrestle deeply with God, and I experienced comfort and companionship for the journey. In this small group environment, we share our stories and encourage one another to lean into God with our hurts and fears, and ultimately, to surrender in desperate trust to Him as the only source of peace in the midst of pain. We remind each other of Truth and shoulder the weight of burdens too big to handle alone (“two are better than one”–Ecclesiastes 4:9-12), and we LAUGH! Yes…laugh, even when circumstances remain painfully unchanged. In the process of pain, it can be hard to see the heart transformation in one’s self! That’s where doing life with each other makes all the difference! These sisters can affirm God’s refining work in me that often I can’t see! It’s that last stretch of a race when the cheers of the crowd & the company of fellow runners spur you on to keep going and finish! In this nurturing environment, self-will gives way as suffering produces the endurance, character , and hope promised in Romans 5:3-5 that NEVER disappoints!
What am I learning about God? “He is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble” (Ps 46:1). We are still pressing on because we have been recipients of the love of Christ poured out in our lives through the practical, generous display of love from fellow believers. What threatened to destroy our family is now knitting us together in a sweet suffering that is bringing deeper healing to our hearts. Can I say that what has happened to our family is a gift? Of course not, but I am beginning to see the gift IN the suffering. Our story is still unfolding, but we are learning to trust God moment by moment as we face this new normal.
A New Story
The Easter story – life TAKEN to be GIVEN BACK ANEW…but it’s not a pretty process! The Easter story is finished, but my story – that remains a work in progress. “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory…forever and ever. Amen” (Eph.3:20).