Yesterday’s pre-surgical procedure was the most painful yet. Hours of piercing pain yet in the midst, the Kind Savior. At one point when the pain was at its worst I heard Him ask me if I would go on a train ride with Him. It happens that one of my favorite memories of a trip Philip and I made to Italy a number of years ago was the train ride from Florence to Venice. Even in my pain-fog, I quickly said “yes” and Jesus and I sat down together, His loving arm around me, and while the pain pushed on, He and I watched out the window of a train moving through a mountainous region with gorgeous scenery and the sweet and soothing rocking motion of the train underneath us. Pretty soon, the pain was no longer the star of the show. Instead, Jesus, His loving arm around my shoulders, my face snuggled against His chest, and our lovely, lovely train ride was center stage. It wasn’t a restful night, but I made it through. A “splash-over of Heaven” in the midst of suffering. God is so crazy good.
Suffering is a weird bedfellow. Having grown up in the family where my mother’s mental illness has been relentless for my entire life and having experienced infertility and the inability to have a child of my own, I’d known what I thought was my share of suffering. But then at 59 to be diagnosed with advanced invasive breast cancer … well, I entered a new and deeper relationship with suffering. Double mastectomy, six months of rugged chemo, six weeks of daily radiation and now a painful year of five surgical procedures to reconstruct my chest. Yes, I’m well acquainted with suffering.
So as a pastor and a bit of a scholar, I have done with suffering what I have done with many subjects in my life: I’ve studied it. And my study has taken me to the Bible, to books, teachings and personal testimonies of those who know suffering. …
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