A special thing happened at church this past Sunday. My husband and I had the chance to testify to the goodness of God in the midst of suffering. We shared about our life situation regarding my chronic health problems and how God has sustained us through it all.  It was a real blessing to be able to attend church again and to testify. We are so thankful that we had this opportunity.

This came about because my husband Butch sent an e-mail to the pastor. The pastor is currently preaching a series on suffering called “Hope in the Midst of Suffering: The Gospel According to Job”.  Without me knowing about it, Butch wrote to him to share our story with him and to thank him for the series.  My husband knows that so many suffer; and good, solid teaching and encouragement from the word of God is so helpful. After the pastor got the email, he wrote back and said that he would like to come over. We scheduled a time and had a very nice visit.

During our visit, we talked more about our situation and life in general. At one point he asked if we would consider sharing our story at church. It would tie in with his preaching on suffering. We thought it was a good idea, but we had some hesitations. It is not easy to tell a story that is so personal and so filled with emotion. It is like baring your soul. I have shared some of it on this website, but thinking about doing it at church felt different. At church, there are real people, not a computer screen.

It was never my intent to write about my suffering on this website, but one day my husband suggested that some good could come of it and glory be given to God. Because of those possibilities, I decided to write about it sometimes. If you are not familiar with my story you can see articles in the Topic From the Couch.  With the same aim of hoping to do good, to give encouragement in the Lord to others who suffer, and at the same time bring glory to his name for all he provides, we decided to do it.

There was only one problem; neither of us would actually be able to share. My dear husband felt he would be too chocked up to get up and talk. I knew exactly what he meant. He teared up when he shared his email to the pastor with me and we reread it together. We both teared up, actually. The truth is, our story is sad and there are a lot of emotions wrapped up in it. Even though we have our hope in God, it has been rough; and we have suffered many hard times and losses.  As for me, I could not get up and talk because of my physical limitations. When we expressed this to the pastor, he suggested that maybe someone could read our testimonies for us. Two people came to mind immediately, Russ and Amanda.

Russ and Amanda also attend the same church as us. We got to know them through our daughter. Years ago when she was little, she saw Amanda playing the flute at church.  Amanda was and still is on the worship team.  Our daughter went up to her afterwards and told her that she played the flute beautifully, which she does!  Later, she introduced Amanda to us.  Our little girl brought us together.  Amanda and Russ are wonderful people.  They are kind and generous.  When I asked Amanda if they would read for us, she said yes without hesitation.  That’s just the kind of person she is.  She has a big heart.

During the service, my husband Butch and I sat in the back as we always do. We do this because I have to alternate between sitting and standing to get comfortable, and I don’t want to block anyone. A walk further into church would also be taxing on my feet. Russ and Amanda each took a turn reading and did a wonderful job.  Russ read my husband Butch’s testimony and Amanda read mine.  What they didn’t know was that we had planned to have the pastor read something from us about them when they finished.  It was brief and couldn’t possibly contain all the gratitude we feel towards them, but it was great to have a chance to thank them publicly for all they have done. They are two very special people. We were friends before I became housebound, but we grew even closer in the last six years. They kept in touch with us and never forgot us. They have given us prayer, fellowship, and support. They have put love into action in many ways including graciously letting us use their pool multiple times a week over many summers. The pool is the one place I can be without pain which makes it great for getting some much needed exercise. They have always welcomed us at their home and never made us feel like we were in the way or intruding, even when they had friends or family over. They have even asked their grandchildren to move to the side of the pool so I could do my laps. No matter what was going on in their lives, they have been there for us. In all this, they have been humble about their actions. For them, it is just what they do. To us, it is priceless. They are wonderful friends and beautiful examples of Christian love, generosity, and compassion. I thank God for them.

Along with Russ and Amanda, there were also some others that we had the chance to thank for visiting or helping. We so appreciate those who have supported us in prayer, fellowship, or any other way.

Now that I have been caught up in this suffering, I have a different perspective about why the body of Christ should be there for each other. We are so thankful for the few who have been steadfast, but in many ways we have felt forgotten. This has led to sadness of heart that makes the suffering harder to bear.  I feel for all who experience this.  If you know someone who is suffering or not able to get out and about for whatever reason, I encourage you to reach out to them. Loneliness is hard. Feeling like you have been forgotten hurts. Reach out, call, write, text, message, do something even if you cannot be there in person. Try to do it every so often. I can tell you how much that can lift spirits and change the mood of a day. The clouds can roll out and the sun come up with a simple word: hello.

I hope the service at church Sunday was a blessing to others in some way. The sermon was great. The pastor preached from Lamentations 3. During a return visit, I shared with him how sustaining that chapter has been to me; and it was very touching that he preached from it on the day we shared our testimonies. The whole experience was such a blessing for us. I pray that God was glorified. Through all we have endured, I have come to better understand what it means to say that God is our rock.  He is my Great Sustainer. He is awesome, and I thank him for giving us the chance to testify to his lovingkindness and grace even in the midst of suffering. I know he works all things for good and that all things are in his hands.

 “As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the LORD is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God,”
Psalm 18:30-31

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.”
Psalm 100:4-5

Sharon Lareau

  1. Sharon, this made me cry. So often we don’t bare our souls because we feel that no one could understand our physical or emotional pain. I have had to learn to talk to people(it is very hard for me) and have been blessed in return. You were so brave to testify in front of the whole church in that way. I pray that you are blessed beyond imagination for you willingness to use your suffering to help others. You and your family are an amazing example to me. Love you.

  2. Sharon, thank you and Butch for sharing your story. You have been in my thoughts and prayers for years, but in the busyness of my own life, I have not made time to visit, as Butch requested. I am very sorry for that. Not because it is one of those things I “should have” done, but because I missed out on an opportunity to let you know you were not forgotten! Thank you for sharing and giving some other ideas to help encourage you and others who are suffering. Thank you again for sharing. May God continue to be your focus as you walk this path.

  3. Hi Sharon, I just read this…..and I am crying, too…… again. It’s funny, how you are saying all of these sweet and kind things about us, when WE are the blessed souls who have gotten to be your friends. You and Butch are precious people. (As are your children, NOT little, anymore!) Thank YOU, for the blessing you have been to us, and to so many others. We love you!!!! <3

  4. Sharon, thank you for sharing your story, and for glorifying the name of the Lord through your suffering. Thank you for being a wonderful example of what it means to be a steadfast soldier for the Lord. And thank you for the reminder that we need to take the time from our busy lives to reach out to those who are suffering and alone. Please thank Butch also. He has been a wonderful example too.

  5. Just know that your blog is such an inspiration to me. Almost finished w/your summary of the history of God’s people (got a late start ). Your time on the couch is fruitful indeed.

    1. Thank you, Eleanore. And thank you for reading and commenting over this past year. It has been a real encouragement. :)

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