For the context of this testimony, please see the post Baring Our Souls at Church.
We would like to start off by thanking Pastor for this opportunity to talk about how God is working in our lives. When he started preaching on the subject of pain and suffering, I wrote to him to share our situation and how pain is an everyday struggle for us.
Sharon has been in pain for over 18 years. It started about two years after our first child was born. She started having nerve pain in her skin which made her very sensitive to the slightest touch. At first it was in a small part of her legs and was not too much of a problem. But later it spread to the back of her arms and other parts of her body. The pain got to the point where she had to wear special loose clothes to keep them from touching her skin.
Even though she had this pain, she tried to live as much of a normal life as possible. She started homeschooling our two children, joined a karate class, and even learned how to ride a motorcycle. But after preparing for one of her karate tests she started feeling the same pain in both of her feet. The pain would get a lot worse as the days went on. There were days where the pain was so bad that she would literally have to crawl down the stairs as she wept in pain. Yet she never stopped praying and reading her Bible, and did her best to glorify God.
One of the ways she sought to glorify him was by teaching here at church. She has a heart for women and responded to the call in Titus 2 by teaching about God’s design for marriage. She wanted to keep teaching, but had to stop in 2008 because things got even worse.
In the summer of 2008, while on a trip to Canada, she spent 10 hours in the car to get there. That experience triggered the pain in her thighs and her lower back to get much worse. She had a hard time walking and now she could no longer sit up in a chair. She would have to spend her time lying on the couch with no relief from the pain. Through it all she continued to homeschool our children and took every opportunity to praise and serve God.
One of the ways she would spend her time was on the computer. She found an online game where she would have an avatar, a computer character, that could run, drive jeeps, skydive, use a hover board and do all the things she could not do. The games did not last long. After a short time she could not help herself and had to find other avatars to witness her faith to. She would engage them in conversation and would write tracts for others to read. She also found other Christians and helped to build a virtual church. Every Saturday night we would help her to connect two computers together so that on Sunday morning she could have John Piper’s sermons play in the church for others to hear. Some weeks others would come, other weeks her avatar would sit alone in the church. But she never gave up.
When people would ask me if we needed anything I would say “yes, please visit her”. If you’ve ever had a sickness that forced you to lie on the couch for a week you know how boring it can be. Imagine spending years on the couch with very few visits from anyone. Just the same faces of her family and the same four walls. Loneliness has been part of her suffering. Feeling forgotten has been harder
On two occasions the elders came by to pray with her and anoint her. It was uplifting and she was happy to have them over.
Throughout the time of her illness, Sharon has missed so much. Our daughter Rachel took up Irish step dancing and won many awards, but Sharon never got to see her dance live or see her receive any of her awards. Our son Andrew joined the Boy Scouts, but Sharon could not go to see him accept his awards. At one point Andrew’s friends asked him if his mother was ugly or if he was ashamed of her because she would never come to the meetings like the other mothers would. This had been hard on both of our children too.
It is also hard on me. As her husband and caretaker I have to take daily care of her, take on the chores of the house, run the business, and had to bring the children to their events, alone. Sharon has missed so many events and holidays. When the kids were younger we would celebrate Christmas morning at our house then I would have to pack them up and go to the grandparents houses. It broke my heart to have to leave her home alone on Christmas for most of the day.
When I come to church I see couples holding hands or with their arms around each other and long to have my wife by my side. I have found the right place to sit in the sanctuary where I can hide my sadness from others if I am having a hard time.
As time went on Sharon’s pain did not subside but life got worst. Because she was forced to lie on her stomach for hours her ribs started to hurt as well. She was caught in a place where she could not stand, sit, or lie down. She would cry and cry out to God for mercy. Through it all, she never stopped praising God and took great comfort in His word.
About a year and a half ago I came up with the idea to put her on a schedule. In that schedule she would be forced to slowly increase her strength and stamina. She slowly started to sit and to increase her time sitting. While she was up she used it for God’s glory. She started a website to teach women about marriage, theology, and apologetics. She has truly bloomed where ever God has planted her.
Now that Sharon is able to sit up better she started going back to church. She has been able to visit for short amounts of time and is excited to be here. At the beginning of this September she was able to partake of the Lord’s table for the first time in over 6 years. What a true blessing.
We are happy that Pastor is preaching about pain and suffering. We have been living with it for the past 18 years. We don’t know what God’s purpose for her suffering is but we know that He is sovereign over everything. We must be patient and we believe that God will work out all things for His glory. We wish to bring Him glory in all we do. We also hope that His plan for her suffering will be ending soon and pray for it daily. We know that God is merciful.