Kerry Sue Teravskis
SUFFERING WITH GRACE
For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:5 (NLT)
Suffering is not fun. It hurts. Alienates. Or identifies you as ‘one of those poor things.’ In no way is it glamorous.
But one thing suffering does do – our stories minister to others. While we may be isolated in our affliction in our homes, there is common ground with others. Like attracts like. Maybe it’s commiserating, swapping tips or even our journeys, but once we find someone on a similar walk, we embrace the fellowship.
It is because of this, I am sharing about my dear friend Cynthia. We (along with our families) have known each other for 23+ years. As homeschooling families, we had a book club together in my home with 4 families for 17 years. The moms dissected books while the children played and grew up together. If you were to ask our children if the moms really did study books, they would laugh, but I can attest to the fact that we did indeed study. And we studied a lot.
When you have walked together for this many years with others, there is bound to be trials and pains as well as joyous celebrations. And there have been with the 4 of us. We stick with each other because of a shared love – Jesus. And we hold each other close because of a shared love for one another.
Through each of our sufferings, we have been there – holding hands, praying, crying, sharing meals and just sitting with one another. It is excruciating at times, but there is a calm assurance knowing God is at the helm and Sovereign. Knowing these precious people are praying is a tremendous boon to the heart (just ask anyone of us).
About a month ago, Cynthia got the dreaded diagnosis of cancer. What no one wants to hear and yet what seems to be so common (and it is not common when it is you or your loved ones. It is devastating.). Cynthia had odd symptoms and was pursing medical help – then the phone call. Life changed for her and her family in an instant. Decisions needed to be made immediately, appointments scheduled, and the round of chemo appointments began.
Cynthia has stage 3 metastasized ovarian cancer. That’s laymen’s terms for something much more ominous on her chart, but it tells what we need to know.
Before she got the official diagnosis, she had the elders of her church anoint her with oil and John and I had the privilege to be at that prayer meeting. Difficult as it was, God’s Presence was there, real and comforting.
Her children are grown, with 3 of the 4 married and all are out of the area, so it became an honor to be there for them with their mom (and dad). It was around this time I felt compelled to send a text to one of the daughters about what I have come to learn in suffering – because it really is a teacher.
I ended up sharing the text with their other children and with Cynthia (and Debbie one of the other members of book club) because I felt prompted by God to do so. It is not easy to share suffering experiences, but I have found great comfort when someone shares with me, so that compelled me forward. Cynthia responded with a note of encouragement to me – share this with others.
So, Cynthia, with tears in my eyes and a prayer which has not left my heart, I share -
I imagine you are feeling quite alone, overwhelmed, confused and lost. And that’s normal. I’ve experienced all these emotions more than once and usually simultaneously. However, I’ve realized and recognized some things through my years (!!!) of suffering:
1. God is a WARRIOR. Exodus 15:3
2. He asks me to be still. Exodus 14:13-14
3. Faith pleases Him. Hebrews 11:6
4. I need to carefully determine what please God and do it. Ephesians 5:10
5. A living sacrifice can climb down from the altar. I choose either to stay or slip off. Romans 12:1
6. God is love. 1 John 4:8
7. Perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4:18 (So if I am fearful. I need to love God fiercely and BELIEVE He loves me.)
8. The beloved of the LORD rests between His shoulders. Deuteronomy 33:12
9. Jesus is daily writing out faith – He is an Author after all. Hebrews 12:2
10. I can be like the woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5. Even though I’ve done everything, tried everything, spent everything, and am considered unclean by society (read weird or undesirable) I can reach out with everything I’ve got to the Saviour of the world who is passing by. I can fall at His feet and grab a tsit tsit of His garment and not let go. I can actually pull Him towards me to receive everything He has for me. And when I do this, humbly stop at His feet. It is enough. Because I am where I belong at His feet, in His Presence. And He notices me. The look on His face is pure love. Pure acceptance. Pure hope. Pure healing. And it is more than enough. (This is my favorite healing story in the Bible.)
Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Jesus doesn’t ask for more than this. It’s one step at a time. You can do one step. You can because He is your Strength. Don’t give up. Lose sight. Wander. Stay laser focused. Believe. Love. Hope. Have faith. Worship. Praise. And worship some more. Be the woman at His feet. Don’t let go of His garment. Don’t let go of Him.
This was written from my heart and I share it, with Cynthia’s permission with you all. As I stated earlier, suffering is a teacher because our Saviour suffered and He is the Great Rabbi. Let us learn from Him.
Father God, You allow suffering - it must filter through Your hand. Everything must. Even when I don't understand I can trust You because You are faithful. And You are good. You are worthy of my love, honor, worship and faith. I pray with complete humility and trust in Jesus's Name. AMEN