It's hard for me to describe how much our lives have been flipped upside-down in the last month. Despite all the medical ups and downs (including this pericardial fluid issue) Kim and I have been so humbled by the continuous outpouring of love, prayers and support. We both agree that one of the greatest blessings from this whole ordeal has been getting moving responses from so many of you describing in detail your own personal trial and suffering and how the Lord redeemed it. Many of these testimonies were put in the comment sections of this post HERE (I'm still moved to tears when I read these!), but there were countless others who chose a more "private" path and instead simply emailed us with your own "story" asking us not to share it with anyone else - many of which have apparently not been shared with anyone else (except perhaps their pastor or one or two other people in the whole world). We are humbled that you would feel led to open up your lives to us in this way and we have been so blessed by you sharing them with us - but we feel this much needs to be said...
The Lord calls us all to be witnesses. We tend to think that being a witness means sharing the gospel with others. This is true, but "being a witness" is not limited to explaining the Four Spiritual Laws or going on "Missions" trips. It's so much more than that.
I believe being a witness means that we are ready, willing and obedient to sharing with others (Christian and non-Christian) what the Lord is doing in our lives (good or bad). And that can be our darkest sins, our health issues, our personal struggles - and not just when we choose to, not only on our own terms, not only after a trial, or after you have found victory but even in the very moment of your trial. At its root, a witness is simply someone who sees and hears God and shares what he/she see or hears with others. This is a witness and this is what a witness does.
Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! -Psalm 105:1
Shortly after we checked into the ER on January 7th, I had to make some quick decisions on who and what we would communicate to our friends and family regarding Kim's situation. As things became progressively worse I felt a deeper need to reach out to more people and ask them to pray for and with us. If you followed this blog from the beginning you will know that this all started with emails. The emails became problematic after a few days due to the size of the distribution lists, and so on the recommendation of a couple friends I put all the health updates and prayer requests out on this blog - which I threw together about 5 days after we got to the hospital. I must confess, there were many times where I stopped and thought - do I really want to put our entire lives "out there"? - especially as I began to realize that it wasn't just a small circle of friends that were reading all this - but people we did not even know.
That very first week while I was still struggling internally with this decision I got this brief email from a godly person I dearly respect:
Dearest Peter and Kim, Thank you so very much for your updates. Your love of the Lord and your love for each other is so apparent. In the midst of your trial, you are in ministry - being a light in this dark place....
That last sentence has been ringing in my ears ever since. From the moment of our trial we have tried to view all of it as a "ministry opportunity" - not just our own private family health issue that was no one else's business. We got another email the following week from this same person expressing thanks again for our openness and also sharing how in their own community while some had handled things as we have there were also others who had chosen a more private path:
"....some families have chosen to "suffer in silence". It is sad to watch. They rob themselves and others of the joy that comes from living among a community of believers. I know that it isn't easy to lay it all out there, but you are giving so much to all of us by allowing us to pray for and serve you all. So, thank you!"
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying anytime something bad happens in your life you should create a blog and tell the whole world about it. But I am saying that if you do tend to close up and retreat from the community of believers that God has given you in your time of need - please reconsider your attitude and actions. You are only hurting yourself by shutting everyone out and suffering in silence - thereby forfeiting the many blessings God desires to give you and "robbing yourself of the joy" that comes from allowing others to grieve with you, pray for you and just love and serve you. I can say this without any hesitation because it has never been truer for us than it has been now.
Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. -Galatians 6:2
We share this with you because we love you and want God’s best for you. Please receive it in this spirit.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. -2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (HT: Park)
In His Grace,
Peter & Kim