Weak Man, Strong God: Reflections from a Weary Pilgrim through a Season of Suffering
Published June 23, 2023
A pastor once said that every Christian is either about to enter into a trial, is currently going through a trial, or is coming out of a trial. In John 16:33, Jesus said to his disciples “…In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Similarly, after intense persecution the apostle Paul encouraged the disciples in Acts 14:22 by saying “…through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” The Christian life is full of trials. There are trials as a result of temptation and sin, sickness or physical affliction, strained relationships or financial troubles, oppression or persecution, to name a few. The ultimate hope for the Christian is that all suffering is ultimately controlled by our faithful and Sovereign God and that it serves a purpose that transcends our current understanding or circumstances.
Our family just went through one of those seasons, and it proved to be one of the greatest challenges I have personally experienced up to this point in my life. My wife, Katie, and I recently spent 84 straight days in the hospital with our now five-year-old daughter Liberty. She ended up being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that aggressively attacked her body. She had otherwise been completely healthy up to this point in her life, and the decline of her health was swift and terrifying. Katie just so happened to be in her third trimester with our son, who ended up being born during that extended time in the hospital. Some of the more severe issues that Liberty faced during that time included seven blood transfusions, blood clotting, secondary infections, a cancer scare, a chest tube so fluid could be drained from a fluid filled lung, multiple needle pokes for blood draws, lack of response to medicine to stabilize her, and ultimately surgery. Liberty was extremely sick and we feared for her life on multiple occasions. We have four other kids that ended up staying with grandparents during that extended stay. Our hearts were heavy and burdened for our little girl who endured trauma after trauma. It is hard to describe the depth of anguish and stress that we experienced during this challenging season.
I know that so many of you reading this are familiar with our story and walked the long, windy road with us. Thank you for faithfully persevering with us. Even if you don’t know our story, I’m sure that on some level you can relate to the reality of suffering in a broken and fallen world. In this series of blog posts, my plan is to share our journey with you, the reader. By God’s grace, it is impossible to go through a season of suffering like this and remain unchanged. We personally experienced the truth that there are some lessons learned and maturity developed only by and through the furnace of affliction. All of us know that this side of heaven there is suffering that awaits us. Our family certainly knows that we haven’t arrived and so there is more purposeful suffering in our future.
My hope is that, as I share our journey and the very real struggles that we encountered, I may encourage you practically with the sufficient revelation that God has given us, and how to specifically apply it. I have nothing more to offer than the truth found in His precious Word. This isn’t a mechanical formula or how-to guide for suffering. It is the vulnerable and transparent reflections of a weary pilgrim who endured a tumultuous season of suffering. For example, what do you do when the overwhelming weight of sorrow grips your soul and you feel completely hopeless? What do you do when God’s promises seem so out of reach and it feels like your prayers are meaningless or unheard? What do you do when a season of suffering lingers and it seems like there is no end in sight? How do you walk by faith, hope in God, and persevere when your heart is broken and your suffering seems unrelenting? I am not going to pretend that I have all of the answers. I ultimately hope these reflections are encouraging to you in your own walk and edifying as you endure your next trial, whatever that may be. Above all, I hope these reflections bring glory to God and faithfully proclaim His matchless name. He is worthy of our worship. This is the story of a weak man and a strong God.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
Soli Deo Gloria