Thinking Out Loud

March 26, 2018

The Excruciating Pain of Losing a Spouse

Filed under: Christianity, testimony — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:29 am

NLT Psalm 22:2 Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.

Yesterday in our worship gathering, the pastor began his sermon by pointing out that we get the word excruciating from two Latin words meaning out of and the cross. The excruciating pain we sometimes face in life was felt by Jesus on the cross and as our high priest he is able to sympathize with our pain.

But then he took it a different direction; providing a clear example of what that pain looks like.

We have known the Bayer family for 25 years now. Their son, Andy and his 3 brothers were the same age as our boys and no doubt sat in the same classroom for Children’s Church. Andy Bayer lost is wife Julia to ovarian cancer days before Christmas, 2016.  You can read her blog, Anchor of My Soul on which Andy is now occasionally posting. Or watch the video below:

Words can’t describe all that Andy shared yesterday about how, as Julia’s spouse, he has tried to carry the pain of her loss. There is still anger, and frustration and wishing God would speak more directly as to the purpose of her death.

My reason for posting this today is to make you — or people you know — aware of a website that Andy has started, My Spouse Has Cancer. Resources like this are so important when a person is in the middle of this battle, and Andy has taken the time to write some things he wished he had known ahead of time, to try to be a help to others.

I don’t know who is reading this and what your own need is, but I really felt led to share this with you today. Bookmark the website so you can pass it on to someone in the future.

April 30, 2012

God Meets a Family in the Midst of Crippling Loss

After my time serving on staff at a local church came to an end, we took a two-year break from that church and attended another in town, somewhat renown for its children’s ministry and Bible teaching. The pastor at the time was an excellent speaker, and his oldest son, Benjamin, was in a Sunday School class with our oldest.

Flash forward more than a decade and we learned that Ben had been diagnosed with a form of leukemia. To say this seemed to hit close to home was more than an understatement. It seemed to me like only yesterday the kids were saving seats for their dads at a Sunday School Father’s Day party by crossing their legs over the empty chairs next to theirs. My wife heard about a Facebook group, Pray for Benjamin Elliott, and as new feeds came in, she would forward them to me by email. Praying for Ben became part of our nightly prayer routine as a family.

After it looked like Ben had triumphed over the disease, sadly he relapsed; and not longer after, the Facebook group was renamed, The Ben Ripple; mostly because it appeared that the stories which rippled out from Ben’s life and death were impacting so many lives both near and far. Ben’s mom, Lisa Elliott carefully crafted each post, and the thought did occur to me that someday, this material might benefit a greater readership, and sure enough, much of the material from those Facebook posts have been gathered together into a book of the same name, The Ben Ripple.  (I suspect this will not be her last book.)

I asked my wife to take another look at those Facebook entries through the book, and share a few thoughts from a mother’s perspective.

The Ben Ripple is a challenging read.  Walking through another person’s pain and loss, even in retrospect, takes some doing, especially having been one of the followers of the ‘real time’ Facebook updates, which comprised an honest, hopeful and wounded journaling from a woman of faith and intelligence whose life was suddenly shaken loose.

In this book, Elliott brings back those first raw outpourings, ties them together with some more objective reflections on what was happening in the family’s lives at the time and closes each chapter with practical suggestions for those dealing immediately with cancer, and for those on the periphery who just want to not say or do the wrong thing.

Her writing is both skilled and passionate, drawing the reader closer to understanding and empathy with a situation that most of us will never experience –  the loss of a child –  and one that more and more of us live through – fighting cancer.  She takes time to explain the treatments, with their setbacks and successes, and to appreciate the medical professionals who were involved in her family’s lives.

All in all, it is important for us to know stories like Ben’s.  The places where God meets us face to face, and the places where he stands quietly behind us.  What the family next door might be going through and what they may deal with from one day to the next.  It’s been said that we live in a world that has forgotten how to lament — to cry out to God our pain and fear and loss.  This book is just such a thing, but like so many of the laments in Scripture, it ends on a note of “nevertheless…”  The possibility of healing, the value of trusting, the necessity of faith in one who loves us.

The Ben Ripple is a remembered and continuing journey well worth walking.

~Ruth Wilkinson

The Ben Ripple is published in paperback by Word Alive Press and available through them in Canada and through Ingram and Spring Arbor in the U.S.   A copy was provided to Thinking Out Loud by Graf-Martin, a Kitchener, Ontario based promotion and publicity agency which comes alongside Christian publishers to provide key titles with enhanced visibility.

October 1, 2011

Personal Note: Thanks for Your Prayers

Filed under: personal — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 12:29 pm

I just wanted to add a short note here to thank those of you who were praying, for your prayers and encouragement.  The medical test results were good. 

However, it could have gone either way, I suppose, and I wondered if today I would be writing an entirely different blog post.  I had already determined that if I was writing something different, I would enclose the short text which follows.  I realize most of you are familiar with this, but there may be someone reading this for the first time, so I’m going ahead with it anyway, because there may be someone here right now who needs this…

What Cancer Cannot Do

Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

Here is another version which is actually the text of a plaque which intersperses scripture between lines of the text…

Cancer is so limited.
Yet in all these things

It cannot cripple love, it cannot alter hope.
We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

It cannot corrode faith, it cannot destroy peace,
For I am persuaded that neither death, or life…

It cannot kill friendship, it cannot suppress memories,
Nor principalities nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, depth,

It cannot silence courage, it cannot invade the soul.
Nor any created things, shall be able to separate us from the love of God,

It cannot steal eternal life, it cannot conquer the spirit.
Which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39.

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