“Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God’s story never ends with ashes.”
It’s been exactly two weeks since Abe went into surgery to have his arm amputated. I got to spend some brother-sister time with him the weekend before his surgery, but didn’t have a chance to see him again until a couple days after doctors had removed his arm.
And to me, he was more beautiful after…with one arm.
Maybe I shouldn’t use the term beautiful for a guy, a man, a dude. But it’s true.
Through the incredible pain of what Abe has gone through – the grieving and sadness of his cancer diagnosis and the loss of his limb, I’ve seen a brighter radiance that shines from him, a greater steadfastness toward the Lord, and a deeper humility and brokenness that I haven’t seen in him before. He has grown stronger and been more courageous because of this battle, and there is an increased love for God and the people around him.
“A lump of coal under pressure becomes a diamond.
And the suffering of a person in Christ only turns you into somebody gorgeous.”
A few months before his surgery
One day after his surgery with Pete, his twin brother
He is more beautiful, more gorgeous, now than before.
When a person goes through tragedy, you see what they’re made of – the core of who they are. Because Abe’s core is Jesus, beauty is displayed and shines from his life. This doesn’t mean that there haven’t been abundant tears and frustrations from dealing with a cancer diagnosis and beginning to relearn how to live life with one arm, but it also means Abe is seeing and experiencing God in newer and deeper ways that wouldn’t have happened without cancer.
I’ve seen God’s glory clearly in how Abe is clinging to and worshipping Jesus in his suffering.
One of my favorite books is Shattered Dreams – God’s Unexpected Pathway to Joy by Larry Crabb. The main point of the book is how God uses circumstances, people, and pain to shatter our shallow, earthly happiness and lead us to joy – true joy – by bringing us to a place of realization that our highest desire is for God, and sometimes (most of the time), that understanding only happens amidst pain and suffering. It is the process of God stripping us of the things of this life to allow us to see, taste, know, love and worship Him more deeply.
For Abe, his current reality wasn’t his dream or plan, but it is God’s plan (Isaiah 55:9). Abe has humbled his heart and said, “God, if my suffering will glorify Your name, then I will walk this out trusting that You have a purpose far greater than my mind could conceive. Your love for me is steadfast, and You will work all things together for my good (Rom 8:28, Eph 1:10-11).” He testifies to the truth that Jesus is everything and will be faithful no matter how difficult or dark his circumstances. “God is working when we see nothing but darkness. He is moving with rhythmic purpose though our agony and pain to unimaginable joy,” says Larry Crabb.
“Suffering can ultimately refine us rather than destroy us
because God himself walks with us in the fire through Jesus.”
– Tim Keller