‘In Sickness and in Health’

Posted by Susan On October 6, 2010 1 COMMENT

Urging a young woman to be ‘good,’ as Paul urged in Titus 2:3,4,5 seemed about as broad a command as I could imagine. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English Language provides a lengthy definition of the word that fills a whole column of the dictionary. Apparently, it encompasses a lot!

Among the lengthy descriptions of the word, the meaning of ‘good’ includes, “not weak or defective; having strength adequate to its support. Having qualities which God’s law requires; virtuous, religious; conformable to the moral law; conducive to happiness; uncorrupted; competent; well qualified; skillful; kind; benevolent; faithful; pleasant; honorable; cheerful; calm…” But it was the idea of “strength adequate to its support” that I found particularly intriguing.

Inevitably in life, there will be difficult or traumatic circumstances that demand a demonstration of strength sufficient to overcome the stress. It will happen. In the course of your life, some very difficult experiences will surface, sometimes hitting with the suddenness of a huge wave crashing on the beach without warning, obliterating sandcastles and knocking people over in its severity. No, life isn’t fair. Thankfully. If we are ever tempted to complain that we don’t deserve to be treated so unfairly, we need to remember that we also did not deserve God’s mercy and abundant grace in saving us, when we could have, and should have, received so much worse. Thank God that by His grace, He is not ‘fair’!

Many years ago, my husband and one of our sons were involved in a terrible car accident. After a particularly heavy accumulation of snow that winter, the spring run-off was severe. Besides washing out portions of roads, the run-off washed away the soil from around a tree that consequently came crashing down across the highway, just as my husband approached. The impact was so severe that the steering wheel ended up just inches from the roof of the van he was driving.

Our son was miraculously unhurt, but my husband’s whole face was literally shattered. By the time I was contacted, and was taken to the hospital more than an hour away where he had been air-lifted, Dan was a horrific sight. Ultimately, it required 8 1/2 hours of surgery to painstakingly put all the shattered pieces of bone back together, held with titanium plates that are still in place. He spent a very long week in the ICU, and when he was released from the hospital, life required huge adjustments, with his jaw wired shut for the next 11 weeks.

I stood over his broken, bleeding body in the ER (his leg also had a serious gash), gently kissing his forehead, the only part of his head that wasn’t broken, as we waited for surgery. Then there were long, tedious days of sitting beside him in the ICU, when his head was so unbelievably swollen that I knew his own parents would never recognize him if they came looking for him. For days, I sat hour after hour as he dozed, heavily sedated, gently holding his hand, merely giving him the assurance that I was there.

At one point during the ordeal, I was suddenly acutely aware of the amazing, deep, deep love I had for him, and the irony of the fact that I could feel such intense love for someone whose physical appearance was so shattered and so severely horrific. It was truly an awesome revelation to know that my strong love was grounded in the person and character of who Dan was in such a firm way that it didn’t matter in the least what he looked like physically. It was my privilege, and even my deep joy (though I had many times of crying and feeling overwhelmed) to provide strength sufficient to support my husband in his time of need.

Unfortunately, I haven’t always been that strength and support to Dan throughout our marriage. Just the year before his accident, two others of our children had been involved in a tragic car wreck where our daughter’s best friend was killed at the tender age of 16, and our daughter herself was seriously injured. I confess, the circumstances conquered me, and I succumbed to depression. During that crisis, from the first horrible night through the whole year that followed, Dan provided amazing strength and stability for me,  encouraging me to keep my faith alive and strong, even as I wrestled through this confusing aspect of the sovereignty of God through times of severe trouble.

As a result of that terrible year, two very awesome and wonderful things happened: my relationship with Dan deepened more than ever before, as we both found God’s grace and strength in ways we could never have imagined. And we both were drawn deeper into an awesome and incredible relationship with God Himself through the privilege He had given us of suffering. Understanding His sovereign rule and His constant sustaining power over every detail of my life became a deep and unshakeable reality. Philippeans 3:8-10 says, “…I have suffered the loss of all things…that I might gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own…but the Righteousness of God…that I might know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and may share his sufferings…”

Suffering drives us away from our own self-focus into a deep God-centerednessness where the hurt is filled with His amazing grace. We have not taken seriously enough the marriage vows that speak about faithfulness: “for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish till death do us part.” Tough times are guaranteed to come to everyone, whether married or not, to some degree or other. Blessed are the ones who endure them with the character of  God’s “goodness” that deepens our relationship with each other and with Christ.

As I write this, a long-time family friend, Emily, is in a hospital in Spokane being stabilized after enduring a horrific car accident two days ago, which is what instigated this post. Emily is the mother of three little boys, all who were seriously injured in the accident. The baby girl Madelyn, that Emily was expecting to deliver within two months, was killed in the crash. Emily’s parents were among friends who sat with me in the hospital during both of the above mentioned adversities our family had experienced. Please pray for Emily, her husband Phil, and their three young sons as they recover from serious injuries and grieve the loss of the long-awaited little daughter.


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One Response so far.

  1. Deb Stennes says:

    Oh Susan,
    You articulate Truth so amazingly. Thank you so much for taking tim to blog for those of us who receive such a blessing from it. We will be praying for Emily and her family…that they will literally feel God’s sustaining grace.

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