The theme of this blog post is “Lessons learned in my journey through adversity” I am grateful for how so many of you have shared what this blog has meant to you. It won’t come as a surprise when I say we all face adversity and deal with it in different ways. I thought you might like to read how one of my good friends, Tom Trevillian, is dealing with his wife’s serious health challenges. The following is what he sent me when I asked him, “What does it mean to remain Thankful in all Things?
Did you ever think of “thanking” as a discipline? One could say, “Is it genuine thanking if I have to conjure it up like an appointment to actually thank someone.” “It needs to come from the heart.” How we have learned to have an attitude of gratitude becomes apparent when life takes a turn for the worst. I have been learning what it looks like to have a thankful heart. Can we be joyful in our suffering? Is this really possible? We know God knew we would experience trials and temptations because His Word spends a lot of time teaching how and why this is possible. James, the brother of Jesus wrote, “Count it all joy when you encounter various trails.” I found myself asking what does this mean?
My wife of 43 years and best friend had a near fatal brain hemorrhage in January. She has been besieged with pain and suffering are part of the human experience. Most of the time we struggle to find the reason God would allow the event(s) take place. We know trusting that He wants what is best and is with us has to be our focus. One of the Bible’s main subjects is suffering and pain and how to deal with it. James encourages us to be joyful in our suffering. Job learns to accept God’s sovereignty without any explanation. Pain and suffering leave us with a lot of questions but also with our greatest opportunity.
In this opportunity God removes our weaknesses and builds us up. It will humble us, remove self regard and pride. We begin to examine ourselves, seeing our weaknesses. Suffering will turn us toward the more important things in life such as family and faith. Most importantly it should renew and strengthen our relationship with God. John 15 exhorts us like a branch to a vine, If we cling to Him it will strengthen us and create a new and deeper understanding of His faithfulness.
The Bible spends as much time on this as any other subject. Romans 5: 1-5 and James 1:2-4 tells rather bluntly that suffering has its rewards. It both reminds us of the benefits of perseverance: our character. Romans 5:5 says that pain and suffering produces perseverance and character, and then provides hope for life. It produces the wonderful fruit : love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control. Without the trials when faced with adversity, true perseverance and character can’t be developed.
As mentioned earlier, it’s impossible to dodge pain and suffering in this life. Gayle almost died that night in the UVA Hospital. Gayle struggled for five weeks to get out of ICU and into rehab. After progressing well in rehab, she suffered multiple seizures setting her back to her first rehab days, totally dependent on others. These type of setbacks are so hard.
Gayle is my best friend, my soul mate. We were a young 70, married 43 years, with no serious health problems. We had good genes and were thinking we would make it to 90 years old. Our kids were grown with their own kids. We were enjoying grandkids, traveling and retirement. This was not supposed to happen. Rising every morning for 40 plus years to read our Bible and pray together I now know prepared us for this time. We are learning the hard way that we have what it takes to face a life of disability. Pain and suffering are a school unto themselves but God continues to remind us of His presence. Both are teaching perseverance and strengthening the character in me, Gayle, and her amazing sister, Pam. Please pray that Gayle. Pam and I will hang in there. Pray I serve her with unconditional love, patience and that as CS Lewis writes, “that I might be Surprised by Joy.” There are great life lessons here. I am learning that, to work through difficult times (persevere), God shows us we can accomplish more than we can ever imagine and our hope must be in Him. There is no doubt, Suffering will give you this opportunity.
You can follow Gayle’s continued journey at https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/gayletrevillian I can be reached via email at email@example.com