Celebrating the resurrection of Christ, the suffering is often overlooked. Acknowledging that Jesus drank the whole cup of sin and suffering, the following is shared in the hopes that some part of my journey will be the bread and water you need to give you faith and hope.
My husband and I arrived in West Africa in 1963 with Jeanne, our four-month old daughter. In 1965 and 1969, another daughter and a son were born. Our taste of Suffering began Friday in January of 1978.
Just a Sip
Look out! Look out! Students were shouting to get my attention. I looked and saw the mission cat running toward the house, tongue hanging. Thinking she was thirsty, I turned to get a bowl of water. Another shout. The cat was jumping at me. I grabbed a stick and threw it at the cat. She ran off into the woods.
I soon discovered five people had been bitten. Our eldest daughter, Jeanne, had found the kittens and was carrying them home when the rabid mother cat latched onto her wrist. The rabies treatment was contaminated. Ten months later, Jeanne was admitted to the National Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. We were told that she would not get well. The rest of the family returned to America.
In May 1979, Jeanne still hospitalized, we were on our way to my youngest brother’s wedding. As we neared our destination, our second daughter, Annette, leaned over from the back seat and announced, “You’re getting old!” Her father replied, “Forty is not that old!” But, Annette persisted, “I don’t know what I would do if someone close to me died.” Her father shared his satisfaction with his life and the work he had done as a pastor. Moments later, the back right tire circled out.
Father and son walked down the freeway to look for an exit and a service station. Not finding help, they returned to the car. I got out and put on my coat. We started unloading the trunk. I looked up, our ten year old, George, was sitting on the embankment. Our thirteen year old, Annette, slid over to the embankment side of the car; my husband and I exchanged a look that said, “I love you. It’s going to be alright.” I reached for the lug wrench. A car came across four lanes and hit where we were standing. Our children saw their father hit and killed. His shoe was on the road beside me.
Faith is tried when we face the results of sin and suffering. What helped rebuild my faith was to look back to times when there was tangible evidence of God’s presence. I remembered the first time we had experienced a military take over. I had knelt before an empty cupboard—screened in, free standing shelves with legs, each resting in tins of kerosene to keep out the insects—and prayed. Two young girls came to the door with pans of food—a “thank you” for a previous kindness. God had started those girls on their way before my prayer. God would send help now! He did. People came into my life just when I needed them.
Then, I started to reread the Bible stories. They took on new meaning. II Kings 4 tells the story of a woman whose son died in her lap, but she responded “It shall be well.” Her son lived again, but would have been declared dead had she begun to wail. Psycholinguist Timothy Leary says that “Words are the freezing of reality.” Our daughter was not healed, but I needed to affirm “It shall be well” because Jesus is coming again.
The third step was to reread the Bible promises. It seemed some were just for the Israelites; their shoes lasted 40 years. But, mine don’t. I had to relearn that the message from Genesis to Revelation is that God is constant.
In John 14:1-3, the introduction says, “Let not your heart be troubled.” To me, it says, “Do not lose faith.” God does not promise that those who accept Him will be free from suffering, but He does promise to sustain and strengthen us.
If your faith is hanging in the balance, look for evidences of God’s love, remember the people God has brought into your life, take time to reread the Bible stories, reclaim the promises, and share your experience.
Jesus suffered. He drank the cup, the whole cup. We are offered only a sip and even that Jesus has tasted before us. We cannot lose hope.