Recently I was able to attend a conference on suffering It was a blessing and refreshing to sit and listen to the speakers. It gave me a lot to think about in how suffering has affected me and others around me. But, not just that how others suffering effected me. I was born into an unsaved family and when I was about 3 or 4 I was diagnosed with a spinal tumor. The tumor was due to me having Neurofibromatosis or just NF for short. NF tends to cause tumors to grow along the nervous system of a person along the spine and brain. I was to have the tumor removed at Children’s hospital in Minneapolis. While this was going on there was another family with a boy just a little older than me who also was having some medical difficulties. The difference was his family was born again Christians. This is where the Sovereignty of God amazes me. How he used to trials in two different families to show His glory. God providentially had that family placed next to mine in the hospital room. There we meet each other. Before our families were separated the mom of this boy’s family gave my mom a letter explaining the gospel to her and had her phone number inside it. My mom kept that letter for some time after I left the hospital and eventually called mom; this lead to my mom’s salvation, shortly after my dad and I were saved. From then on my other brothers and sisters have received Christ as their Savior.
I use to look back and see how God had used my suffering to save me and my family, but it was more recently that I realized that God also used others suffering to save me. That is truly humbling. To think of that is amazing, to see how God works.
Since then I have had many other issues with tumors. I have had two other spinal tumors and an inoperatable brain tumor. I have undergone radiation treatment after my second tumor, which weakened my back resulting in having to undergo a spinal surgery where I had my spine fused and two rods put in my back. I will most likely have some sort of issue for the rest of my life. My fused spine will affect me for the rest of my life. Some day if I get married and have a family of my own, there is a 50% chance that my kids will have NF and that could be very difficult. I can see how NF and my first spinal tumor lead to me and my families’ salvation, but I can’t see why I continue to go through some of these things. God is good though and that I know. God never makes mistakes. I have come to realize that God has a purpose for everything and I may not know never what it is. Job went through suffering much worse than I have. He lost his family, property, health, his friends turned on him, and his wife was not even supportive. Paul also had his trials, but God told him that His grace was sufficient in 2 Cor. 12:9. I know that God can and will use me. He may use me completely up. I don’t know what God has planned, but I do know that He is good and whatever happens will be for His glory.
The conference on suffer also gave me a new outlook to my work. I work with vulnerable adults, and I realized that they themselves are suffering and their families, also in a way I too when I struggle during the day with them. But, I learned that I can be more compassionate and this can give me an opportunity to witness and share the gospel with them. I realized that I can be more sympathetic when I look at it this way.
Suffering affects everyone in one way or another. I have seen my co-workers suffer and at times ask why? And I was not sure how to answer them. It is easier to comfort a Christian who is going through trials then an unsaved person. Can an unsaved person understand that God is good even when there is evil and suffering? I realize that to encourage and witness to them could be more challenging and difficult, since it takes me out of my comfort zone. But, the best way would be to start explaining suffering and the cause of it. Telling them about Jesus and the suffering He went through for us.
I hope that I always display the right attitude when it comes to the suffering that God places before me. God is faithful and just, never giving more than we can handle. I hope that I will be able to say like Job, “the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away blessed be the name of the Lord.” God is good and He will be glorified through the trials we face. Let us trust Him to give us the strength to me whatever lies ahead.