As 2017 came to a close I looked for a word that would end the year well and bring hope and promise in 2018. When Stan and I were married in 1992, I came to know about one of his favorite pastors/evangelist – David Wilkerson. Through the years we received many letters from World Challenge, David Wilkerson’s ministry, and the letters would sometimes mention his wife, Gwen and her health. I remember reading that Gwen had developed cancer several times. Also, it was mentioned that both David and Gwen’s daughters had cancer as well.
I started looking for information on Gwen Wilkerson and I found a book that she had written in 2001, The Cross and the Scalpel. Indeed, she had cancer 5 times, beginning at the age of 32. Gwen lived till the age of 81 years. So, there is hope for me that I might live past 54. Both of her daughters also had cancer. One daughter, Debbie, was 27 and the other daughter, Bonnie, was 36 when they were diagnosed with cancer.
This is an absolute great book of faith and hope, but it was Bonnie’s story in one of the chapters that gave me what I was looking for to end 2017 and start 2018.
“I have read many biographies of women missionaries, strong women of God who have made a difference in many lives—women who are looked upon as godly heroes of the faith.”
“These saints of God deserve our admiration and respect but I noticed that we rarely praise or admire those who have suffered with sickness. Many people do not realize that the calling to a life of physical suffering is just as fruitful as a calling overseas.”
“By leading me down the road of physical affliction and showing me His powerful, healing touch, God showed me something that I had never realized before. I now see that multitudes of lives have been touched by His Kingdom because of my suffering. While it is not a road I would have chosen. God chose it for me. You see, through our pain, we have tapped into the world God travels most – the world of suffering.”
Suffering is actually our calling. It is how we choose to use our suffering that we offer hope and love to others. I look back on my life before 1992, 2003, 2006, 2017 and I can tell you I would NEVER in one million years believed I would own a mastectomy/lymphedema boutique helping people through an illness. I wanted to be a powerful executive, with a big office, a lot of shoes, and suits. I loved to wear suits, not pant suits, skirts with a jacket and 4 to 6 inch heels. Thank goodness God had another plan. You will probably not find me in a skirt, heck I don’t even own one anymore. I out grew them!
As I end 2017, having lost one of my favorite suffering saints, my Daddy and having cancer for a 3rd time: I want you to know whatever your illness is, it does not have to be in vain. In 2018, know YOU are one of the awesome suffering saints sent to the Earth by God to encourage others!