The Path is Asbury’s guide for learning to worship, build our faith and come into a great love for people.
I believe building faith can come from various incidents and challenges that come our way and the only way to face these challenges is through increased trust in our Lord which subsequently builds and strengthens our faith.
My life and faith have been dramatically shaped by illness and, I have been blessed, that it has not been mine. I have done physical things I never envisioned I would, I have ridden emotional roller coasters and my spiritual life has grown much stronger because of these challenges. The one Scripture that kept me sustained those many years was “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Philippians 4:13. Christ’s strength reached down into my turmoil and pain as my faith began to grow.
My father developed esophageal cancer in 1964 and during the 20 years of his illness my husband, Norm, and I did much to support, encourage and care for my dad even though he lived a productive life most of those 20 years. Ten years into his illness, my mother developed Parkinson’s disease which progressed quickly and she lived 20 years with that disease. The last summer of my father’s life I traveled the 100 miles to my parents’ home every Monday returning on Friday to be with Norm and our college-age daughter. In the meantime, my mother fell and broke her hip so I continued all summer traveling each week and spending a part of each day with my dad and the other with Mother in a health care facility.
Saturday August 25, 1984 I flew with my father in an air ambulance to M.D.Anderson Hospital in Houston where my father had doctored for ten years. My brother arrived on Sunday to stay with Dad so I could return to Indiana and begin the school year with my second grade class. That morning Dad’s doctor did an exam and told us Dad would not recover from his illness but his death was not imminent. However, that very day as I flew back to Indiana, Dad died. This reinforced that God, not man, sets the time table for all things. “It is not for you (us) to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” Acts 1:7. What a faith builder.
For 12 years after my father’s death I had the care of my mother, so debilitated from Parkinson’s Disease and a stroke that the last 7 years of her life all she could do was smile, blink her eyes and scratch her nose. She was basically rigid. I remember that I had to coach my mother to die. There was a wonderful chaplain at the care facility where mother was and she guided me through this process. During these difficult last 15 days of Mother’s life, I sat by her bed, went through the Bible and wrote down many Scriptures that comforted me. Isaiah 40:29 states: “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” This was certainly true for me during those dark days.
Three more times I fought illness with another family member. This time it was Norm, my husband. He had cancers in the years 2000, 2004, and 2008 none related. Each was a new kind of cancer. He had surgery three times and radiation for a total of 14 weeks. For seven weeks we had to live in Atlanta while Norm underwent treatment. The difficult part for me was we lived at Hope Lodge an American Cancer supported home for cancer patients and one care-giver per patient. I did not want to give up my freedom and live in a group home. This took much faith and trust on my part. However, once again God knew best as we met many wonderful people and God used me to be a listener and support for others living there.
I believe the words from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 express what I learned from my care giving years. “All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” The Message translation.
Through the process of challenges, refining and trusting God, I have been made aware of who needs comfort and support and I try to do just that for people in need. I thank God that he has given me that ability.
Trust God. He will do amazing things in your life.
Written By Beth Smith