Some years back, in the midst of great family stress (brother in Iraq, sister dying of cancer, job in peril, finances crumbling, etc), I came to some wisdom, I would presume through the Spirit. But I’m certainly not claiming to have heard God’s voice in this particular instance.
It was the question, “in the midst of this, what am I supposed to be learning?” Rather than focusing on the stress and anxiety that came with all of these stressors, I began to focus on how God was using this to shape me. Looking back now, it was a period where I grew tremendously in faith and the building up of my “trust” muscle. Times of suffering can bear tremendous fruit. That knowledge itself can help ease pain.
Last week in our weekly church prayer gathering, the leader walked us through each section of Hebrews 11–the “by faith” chapter. What one gatherer commented on was how these heroes of the faith stayed focused on the promise rather than the struggle even in the likelihood that the promise would not be fulfilled in their lifetime (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, etc).
That seems particularly poignant and important–to stay focused on the promise (the eternal perspective) and not the struggle (the temporal circumstance).
Since your daughter’s friend is Catholic, Barbara, I suggest she does some reading on (or by) Mother Theresa. She believed that by ministering to the suffering and dying she was in essence ministering to the suffering and dying Jesus–that in our suffering we can come closer, go deeper, to a fuller understanding of all the Christ suffered for us. I’m probably not saying that quite right, but it’s the gist that I remember.
We must all remember that the Good Shepherd will leave the 99 and go after the one. Thank you and your daughter for the care of that “one.”