Tuesday, May 6, 2008

How a Christian Suffers

I've been greatly blessed over the last 10 days by receiving updates from one of my colleagues with the Voice of the Martyrs. His wife (who also works with VOM) has had a sudden onset of heart problems resulting in several stents being inserted in her heart over the last week and a half. They are in their 40s. His messages are so God-centered, so focused on Jesus, that they show the radical difference in how a Christian suffers. Here's yesterday's update:

Dear family and friends,

I'm sitting in an arm chair watching Karen sleep restfully this evening while listening to a song entitled "My Father's Love" over and over again. (thanks, Jennifer!) I can't help but wonder if the words of this song are dancing in Karen's heart tonight, too.

Today was a really tough day for Karen. The procedure required more time than originally expected because the location of the blockages were difficult to reach, and an additional stent was required. The cardiologist who performed the catheterization said her arteries are highly calcified for someone her age, and the arteries he targeted had to be stretched which caused Karen a lot of pain. Karen's condition is a genetic issue that must now be treated with exercise, a heart-healthy diet, and medication. Our lives are changing.

Karen remembers a lot of the events that occurred during the procedure - particularly when the doctor began to use the balloon to open each artery. Her doctor is a very good cardiologist - one of the best in the area. He administered the highest level of sedative he could without using general anesthesia, which significantly increases risk. So, he took very good care of her. However, the memory of the procedure is really hard on Karen - and she was shaking and sobbing when I was able to see her after the procedure.

Did God hear our prayers? Absolutely. Why did He allow her to experience so much pain? I don't know. "Why" questions are best addressed with "Who" answers - and the answers are derived alone from the infallible Word of God. And I know this... God is absolutely good and perfect and holy - and the cardiologist had a Friend guiding his hands. Karen had many friends loving her through prayer. She had a Father watching single every move, holding her heart in His hands, and providing His grace - grace sufficient to endure a traumatic process that brings healing to her body. Later this evening when she was able to hold a conversation, Karen said, "I can't understand how Christians persecuted in other countries can endure so much pain, and they don't have medication like I do." To live the Christian life - His life - requires nothing less than the grace and power of God. Anything else would be a "filthy rag" existence.

God works through us as an instrument of His mercy and grace. When we pray, God's mercy and grace is actively working through us. His love is expressed. He does things we can't. We allow ourselves to become intimately involved in God's unfolding plan - exalting the Living God.

And that's exciting!

Speaking of exciting, Karen might be able to come home from the hospital tomorrow. After spending time recovering and gaining back her strength, she will have a lot of catching-up to do. We've received a lot of email. There is only one reason why your email has not been answered (yet) - Karen wanted to do that herself. But in the meantime, please know they have been read to Karen - and your personal words of kindness encourage her; they encourage me. Your cards, flowers, email, food, calls, etc. are a blessing to us. We thank the Lord for you all.

"My Father's love is strong and true - always believing, always seeing me through. So no matter what happens in His grand design, I'll be fine with my Father's love."

I'll write again soon.

Because of His GREAT love,
Jim (& Karen)

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