When in the fog-filled forest of suffering, the Lord brings encouragement to His people through a variety of means. Suffering is never meaningless, and we do not suffer alone. Paul tells the Thessalonian church, “
I want to take this opportunity for everyone who has sent their prayers and encouragement towards my family in this trying time. Our hearts have been encouraged, our souls reinvigorated, and our burdens have become lighter in the midst of the love that is actively being shown.
I don’t know when my hospital stay will be complete, Lord willing, very soon. But I want to share seven tremendous encouragements that I received this last week from 11/13-19/21.
Saturday- “Shane and Shane Though you Slay Me ft. John Piper”
It is easy as a young man to think you’re invincible. I had run five miles on Wednesday, had a fun day with my son and Danny on Thursday where we had ice cream, and I carried him, my son, not Danny, on my shoulders. I worked an entire shift on Friday and was about to head out for work when my wife said I needed to go to the hospital because my face was now filled with red dots or “petechiae.” Now I’m in an emergency room hospital bed with IVs in my arms, vials of blood being drawn, wondering if I’m about to die. The fear of the unknown sneaks in; doctors and nurses are all surprised that I’m not constantly bleeding. My faith and trust in the Lord remained steadfast, but my current circumstances and suffering felt meaningless, and I felt abandoned. Danny had sent me this song as encouragement and the Lord strengthened me in these words.
Sunday- Psalm 23
Psalm 23 is a Psalm that we all know, acknowledge, and affirm as true. It was different this time. I read, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” I’ve known this Psalm since I was a child. I learned it in AWANA, I studied it in school, I’ve written papers on this text, and it has brought me joy and comfort in reading, but my wife and I both broke down into tears in reading this text. The Lord has always been my shepherd, but now I’ve seen how the Lord comforts firsthand when my very life seems uncertain. His gentleness, kindness, and love pulled me through one of the loneliest and hardest nights of my life.
Monday– An Excerpt from “Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers.”
“I will give you rest.” His rest is gift, not transaction. Whether you are actively working hard to crowbar your life into smoothness (“labor”) or passively finding yourself weighed down by something outside your control (“heavy laden”), Jesus Christ’s desire that you find rest, that you come in out of the storm, outstrips even your own. Gentle and lowly. This, according to his own testimony, is Christ’s very heart. This is who he is.”
Tuesday– God’s Grace through Medicine.
I have learned a lot about Hematology in the past week. Being the recipient of several treatments from highly-trained and experienced medical staff, as well as the daily calls from my dad telling me all about B-cells, T-cells, and what-not, has given me an extremely surface-level understanding concerning my current condition. In my praying through this week, I’ve been sure to thank the Lord for his grace through medicine and the medical community. We live in a fallen world where sickness and death are everywhere, but God has given mankind the ability to research, think, accumulate knowledge and wisdom, and the ability to defeat maladies and illnesses that would otherwise be incurable or irreversible. When suffering through the unknown, you become thankful for the known.
Wednesday– God’s Grace through his saints.
The cornerstone of encouragement has been God’s grace through the saints. The phone calls, the texts, the videos, and the offers of any type of assistance all contribute to perseverance through trial. Knowing that there are believers in prayer and intercession for you and that churches are pleading to the Lord on your family’s behalf is humbling and highly encouraging.
Thursday– God’s Grace through song.
Even on the hospital bed, there is cause for singing and praising the Lord. Isn’t it for this momentary suffering that we memorize songs? Isn’t it for times of affliction that we store words of life in our hearts and minds? We cannot rely on external devices for what should be a part of our inner beings, but preparation for suffering and affliction comes from training. Hence the Psalmist says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” You will never regret storing up songs and the Word of God for the moment that it is just you and the Lord. Here are two that I had memorized that have ministered to me in particular in the last week. Both songs, along with others like It is Well With my Soul, Jesus, Lover of my Soul, and others, have become all the more precious to me in the midst of affliction.
Friday– 2 Timothy 3:10-17 and Being Prepared for Suffering
I worked in a grocery store when the hoarding and national emergencies started in March 2020. I have seen what happens when people are unprepared for the unknown and panic at the sight of uncertainty. When I first got to my room at the ER, my phone was nearly dead, and I had no Bible, but what I had was years of training through study and ministry that prepared me for when it was just my Lord and me in the midst of the most challenging days of my life. When you know affliction or disaster is imminent, you prepare for it. Every sermon, every song, every passage studied, every book read, every person that you have ministered to or have been ministered by will be accessible in those storehouses on your day of affliction.
There are always good works to be done, even from the hospital bed.
Writing has been complicated for the past week. I have a lot of half-finished posts, but I’m hoping that I will have the energy and wherewithal to get some more content up this week. Thank you all for your prayers during this trying time. May the Lord encourage you during your daily walks and draw you closer to Him. Grace and peace