Word from Mother Karen: Lesson Learned in Suffering

I wanted to share a few things I have learned about suffering over the last couple of years. I have learned more than I really wanted to… 

  1. I have to really live one day at a time. I cannot fret about what will happen tomorrow or next week. 

  2. I have had to learn how to rest, even when I do not want to. I have to listen to the limits of my body, which God created.

  3. I have learned to pray when I can’t pray as I normally would. Some days in pain, all I can do is cry out, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.” Marilyn encouraged me to pray this when I could not pray anything else.  

  4. I have learned that God can sustain me through more than I thought (as an Enneagram 8, I could always tough my way through difficult situations). 

  5. I have learned to humble myself to receive. I hate being in a wheelchair, but the people of Savior would rather I be present and in a wheelchair than not be there at all. I have learned how important the prayers of people are to carry me to the throne of God. To give me joy amid my suffering. 

  6. I have always been sensitive to people with handicaps, but this has made me more so. Being in a wheelchair shows you places that are friendly to the handicapped through their facilities. And the way people react to you! 

  7. I have learned something about worship. I pray for healing, but I have learned to be sure I am worshiping the Healer and not just the healing. At times I have wanted to beg for healing and forget to worship Jesus. 

  8. I have learned to be grateful. I started a Grateful Journal and try to write at least one thing in it at the end of each day. This was really difficult when I was lying on a couch for 3 months, or when I am in so much pain it takes me a while to find one thing.

But from those learnings, I know how to pray for others who are suffering. Recently, a friend was laid up. I wrote, “My prayer for you, my dear friend, is that you will deeply rest physically. I pray spiritually you will rest in the arms of Jesus. That you will trust Him for all the things you cannot do right now. That you know you are His beloved Son even when you cannot accomplish as much as you would like. I pray that you will know Jesus even more through your suffering, but you also know the deep joy that comes as you cling to Him. I do pray for healing for you and that you have patience in God's timing (still praying this for myself). I also pray for any trauma in your soul through this harrowing experience.” 

Maybe one of you needed that prayer today.

Word from Father Kevin: Prayer and Pain University

Since Karen entered Pain University 16 months ago, and I’ve been studying alongside her, we’ve been learning many things. One is this: It’s hard to pray for yourself and your loved ones when you’re suffering. 

Caregiving throws you out of your prayer rhythms, as does interrupted sleep. Grief and fatigue and medications affect your capacity to perceive God in ways that formerly have been life-giving for you. Your difficulties make it harder to rise up in faith. Your mind is more distracted, your heart less at rest. If there’s any good news here, it’s this: if you’re experiencing this, you’re normal.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to have friends praying for you. For them to do what you cannot do as well. Karen and I feel so grateful for how all of you friends of the Savior have prayed for us—during Prayers of the People, privately, on the phone, during visits. This prayer brings much more than physical healing; it brings spiritual protection.

Jesus told his disciples, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Matt. 26:41). In Pain University, you face temptations like self-pity, unbelief, fatalism, despair. To choose life, to press into God and to mine the gold from the ore, you need the prayers of your friends. 

So thank you, Savior, for carrying us in prayer. Through those, we are rising up. We feel so grateful for all of you. (And please remember the many in our midst who have had journeys much longer than ours.)

Word from Father Kevin: Resilience

Last week, I shared that Savior has an unusual level of leadership capital. A second feature of Savior I pointed out to the Vestry is our resilience.

I’ve said several times that church theorists consider the biggest single change in a congregation’s life is the transition from founding leaders to next-generation leaders. Yet Savior has come through that remarkably well. There is a sense of peace and gratitude, with Fr. Bill and Mtr. Linda still in our midst, cheering on Karen and me, and we love seeing them minister.

About the time that transition was well underway, Marilyn Stewart was diagnosed with melanoma. And as Doug cares for her, this meant Savior no longer had the daily leadership of two more founding members. We all feel the grief for their suffering. Yet Savior continues on, still with a sense of hope and optimism.

Psychologists in recent years have emphasized the power of “grit.” Perseverance and resilience change the outcome for students and for workers. And for churches.

I notice this quality in Savior. I celebrate this. And I want to commend all of you for this. What is God saying to us through this?

I don’t know, but perhaps, “You’re stronger than you know.” We will need to be resilient to follow God into new adventures, but we’ve shown that with God’s help, we can handle a lot. “Fear not, little flock, for it pleases your Father to give you the kingdom.”