Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lessons in Suffering: Little Lights Along the Way


"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." -- Leo Buscaglia

I must admit, this summer has been one of the most difficult times of my life. Recovery from back surgery has been slow and painful, as we have explored a variety of therapies to stop the painful muscle spasms that serve as daily reminders of instability in my spine. Besides feeling guilty for the strain my recuperation has put on our family life, I also feel pulled to be with my extended family this summer. I have yearned to sit with my mother, who is still on a ventilator and dealing with myriad complications after a grueling stem cell transplant. I have wanted to assist my aunt, who is undergoing aggressive treatments for lung cancer. And I long to surprise my sister by walking into her hospital room to hold her newborn baby, scheduled for delivery tomorrow.
This summer has been one of the most difficult seasons of my life. But in the midst of all the pain, worry, guilt and uncertainty the past few months have brought, I have realized something profound.
I am OK.
Despite all the backaches and heartaches, deep down in my soul I feel peace because I know that God is with me. That peacefulness comes from -- not great faith on my part -- but extraordinary faithfulness on His. Psalm 46:1-2 proclaims, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea."
Recently a friend and I were talking about how even in the darkest days, God gives us blessings along the way -- little candles to light our path and let us know that He is with us. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, "The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness."
He has been with me throughout this journey, and His footprints look like those of the many people who have come alongside and walked a little of the path with me. Some have fallen in step to let me know they are praying. Others have linked arms with me, offering empathy and counsel as we talk about our similar struggles. Many have carried my burdens, shouldering responsibilities of cooking, housework and childcare. Still others have brought beauty to my path, blessing me with flowers, gifts and cards of encouragement. All have brought the glow of their Christian light.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:14, "Ye are the light of the world."
Consider the beautiful imagery of walking through the darkest passages of your journey, joined by other Christians -- all gathering their lights to show you the way. The image of all those little lights coming together from near and far, over hill and dale, is even more beautiful when we realize that together we don't just light the path of one who is suffering. Together, we illuminate Him.
Jesus continued, "A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (verses 14-16).
We do not always know where the path will lead or when darkness will fall. But if we trust in God, we can be sure He will lead us, blessing us daily with little lights along the way.

"Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies" (Psalm 36:5).


Carol said...

Great is your faithfulness!
Thank you for sharing.
My prayers continue to cover you.
Carol in GA

~Carrie from Cottage Cozy~ said...

It is truly all about trust isn't it! You have it and it is getting you through this trying time...hang in there. You are an encouragement to me! Hugs

Free Pretty Things For You said...

you are such a testimony!
thank You for shining you light to all of us
May our Lord Keep Shining His face on you!

Susan said...

Your faith is admirable, Melissa. May the Lord bless you richly for your unending trust in Him. Susan

Red said...

Still praying with ya! Keep recuperating. We are all with ya being your cheerleaders! And love ya lots!

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Anonymous said...

Dear Melissa, My heart aches when i think about the struggles you are facing this summer. But at the same time I am rejoicing because you have such faith and you see all of the blessings God has given you during this time.

Take care and keep counting your blessings.


Betsy and the Boys said...

Melissa- so sorry that you are in such a hard season. I identify with your feelings of wanting to be with your extended family during times of pain and times of rejoicing. It is so hard to keep your spirits up when your physical body is failing you. Your faith and peace is admirable!
Praying for complete healing,

Sue said...

I am a long time reader, and don't often comment on your lovely blog. I have been following your struggles this summer and have been praying for you to get back on your feet. You have been a blessing of faith to all of us in blogland and will continue to pray for you and your mom. {and best wishes to your sister and new baby} Lamentations 3:22-23 is one of my very favorite verses and will continue to pray it for you.

Glenda said...

Melissa, I am praying for you and your family every day. I have told others in my congregation about your struggles and many prayers are being lifted up for you and yours. Thank you for all the pleasure your lovely blog has brought to me the past few months. I hope that you will be back on your feet soon and am so thankful that you have so many there willing to lighten your load.

Tina Foster said...

You are more than OK...You are a piece of the Master on earth and a great blessing to everyone you touch. Even when you are flat on your back, you are still serving Him! As He is teaching you, you are teaching us. Thank you for being His workmanship! :) Tina

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