"Fellowship of Suffering"

 Like cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a distant land.  Proverbs 25:25

Like cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a distant land.  Proverbs 25:25

I am suffering.  It's not always intense.  It's not all the time, but I get hit with waves of sorrow as I watch the deterioration of my dear Gary's mind and body.  What encourages me most?  The comfort that comes from others.  In fact, we (my family and I), have experienced many varied blessings that ultimately come from God's care.  Reminders of what is true about God and His promises to His children, beautiful music that lifts my heart from despair to joy, opportunities to serve and enjoy this big beautiful world are everywhere. 

In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul says,"  ...the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction SO THAT we will be able to comfort those who are in ANY affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."  Many folks who have served us, have never experienced anything like our trial, so don't ever think that just because you've never suffered from dementia in a loved one, that you can't offer encouragement to someone who's suffering.  According to Paul, ANY suffering qualifies ANY believer to offer refreshment in Jesus' name. 

But THIS post is about those who are going through similar difficulties.  I want to tell you about three friends.  God has been blessing me in a way I didn't expect by including me in a very special "fellowship."  Let me tell you how it started.   A bunch of us girls met in a Baptist church over 50 years ago.  In Junior High we spent many hours at slumber parties, pool parties, and summer camps together.  Oh the Laughter!!!  Over the years we drifted apart, 20 years, 30 years and 40 years for one of them, since we've been in communication.  Now we live too far away to spend time together but thanks to Facebook and email, we are back together.  We are reunited in a sort of "Fellowship of Suffering."  One of these friends is a recent widow.  Another has a husband who is loosing a battle with cancer.  Another has a husband recently diagnosed with cancer. 

 We're all here in this camp photo.  I'm in the middle row, 2nd from the left with my white "babushka" scarf.  My 3 friends can remain anonymous. 

We're all here in this camp photo.  I'm in the middle row, 2nd from the left with my white "babushka" scarf.  My 3 friends can remain anonymous. 

Who would have thought that after so long, we'd be regularly communicating.  These women know Christ.  They are ministering to me by reminding me of His great love and care.  They are not just "playing church" as I suspect many of us were as young teens, but have matured in to women of God.  We center our conversations around the relationships we have with our Savior.  They each know the loss, pending loss or potential loss of a husband, like me.  "Like me."...  There is a bond between us.  It is special.  It comes as a surprise to me, that God would bring back these friends from so long ago to be comforters in my life. 

 Camp Rancho at Forest Home. 1966

Camp Rancho at Forest Home. 1966

None of us are comfortable with the idea of death taking our dear husbands.  Death is not just "a part of life."  Whether it threatens and goes away, gradually overcomes, or suddenly crashes in on our lives, we resist it.  Life is a precious gift.  Because God saved us, we are able to meet these kinds of challenges with inner peace and joy.  None of us would say we have that kind of strength in ourselves apart from Christ living in us.  A quick request for prayer via a Facebook chat, or an email to a friend can lead to the sweetest dialog with true encouragement because we remind each other that our good God is in control and we can trust Him.  Little explanation is needed with these 3 because they understand me in a unique way.

I am quite amazed at the surprises along the way as I "suffer."  One of the dearest is these ladies' ministry to me.