More than the beginning

From Michelle.  7 July, 2010  9 a.m.

Dear friends and family,

It seems like days since I last wrote, although it has been a mere thirty-six hours.  I am happy to report that Steve and I did indeed have a wonderful time worshiping together and remembering God’s goodness this last Sunday night.

It is strange to say this in this current context, but when I come into God’s presence, I feel emanating from Him a quiet but somehow effusive joy.

I keep thinking of Job.  It says in James 5:10-11, “As an example of suffering and patience, brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  Behold, we consider those blessed who remain steadfast.  You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

While the story of Job’s suffering will forever be a mystery, two things remain with me:

1. that God blessed Job with double what he had before, and

2. that in answer to the question of suffering, God reminds Job of his character and greatness.

Somehow, I sense even now, God’s richest plans and blessings for our future.  I also notice that when I am conscious of God’s good character, I am deeply fortified and filled with hope.  That blessing will come in whatever surprising form, and probably not how I would wish it, but in my best moments, I believe I will find it.  I cannot speak for Steve in this process, but my hope and my sense of his character makes me believe he will find it too.

None of this underestimates the very real current suffering.

Steve cannot roll over on his own, let alone do a host of other things for himself.  He struggles to sit up even for an hour in a wheelchair, his face white and covered in sweat with the pain and effort.  He is deeply restless, unable to move his legs.  He strains to imperceptibly move his little toe.  He feels shattered to think of the effect of his condition on those he loves.  He is processing a whole world of loss.

But at the same time, he loves, he blesses, he endures.

As the bible says, suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame.    Steve has both endurance and character, and I am watching his hope being born, at least in the last two days. Yesterday he spoke with a pastor in California who suffered a similar accident.  The conversation filled Steve with hope, and that hope colored much of the rest of the day.

To speak so boldly about a suffering that is not my own is presumptuous.  I mostly process my own small portion this way.  But I also know my husband, and I  know the God in whom he trusts.  So the phrase I cling to today is the following:

And God blessed the latter days of Job more than the beginning.”  Job 42:12

Love and blessings to you all,


PS:  I stopped by the house yesterday for a rare peaceful interlude.  I cannot tell you how enveloped I felt in the very real care, the hands and feet of love, that so thoughtfully prepared our home for us.  Each time I stop by, I see another thoughtful detail.  I am overwhelmed with love and gratitude!

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  • Ragamuffingirl

    Michelle – Just so you know your journey is impacting others, I have to let you know I just read your post and I am in tears. The verse you posted from James 5:10-11 was the very verse God needed me to hear at this exact moment in time. I am overwhelmed at His goodness.

    Thank you,

  • Heather Ruetschle

    Allen Wolf, Mike and I just prayed for you. Beautiful post. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

  • Roger Bartholomew

    This is a beautiful insight – very moving. You are reflecting God's care and compassion so strongly. The reference to Job is very apt in so many ways. Thank you for sharing such intimate thoughts with us all in such a wonderful way. We continue to pray for Pastor Steve's complete restoration (twice+) every day. Hope should abound….
    Roger & Helen Bartholomew – UCM

  • Bonnie Stalter

    God is using your honest and mature posts. Today my prayers will be for you to remain hopeful.
    not looking for results or measures of movement or activity but looking towards God.
    In Hebrews when the saints are listed.. they are ones who believed without seeing.
    God said it and that was enough. Based on trust on one who is totally trustworthy. The weight of having to make so many huge decisions and deal with the daily acts of meals and paying bills etc. Dealing with insurance and living arrangements etc . must be daunting. plans for the future which is
    ever changing is difficult. Give all these to God and follow his leading. Do they have counseling available at the center? Will your boys be coming soon? Mothering will provide balance and
    provide laughter and some normalcy to your family. prayers for reuniting your gang.

  • James_md_bg

    Michelle, you bless us all with your insights and strength. I don't believe there are many people who would hold up under your circumstances with the grace and strength you have shown. You inspire us all. Your “small portion” is actually a huge portion. I believe that the love that surrounds Steve is a reflection of the love that Steve has given to so many. God is so clearly enveloping him and holding him. It is a marvel to watch. Love, Elizabeth James

  • Angelic Que

    “…faith, hope, and love…” (1 Corinthians 13:13
    Michelle and Steve, you got all three. Thanks for sharing your faith, hope, and love to us.
    I was led to Jeremiah 30-33 a couple of hours ago, and saw how, in the midst of turbulent times, God has generously given words of comfort and hope… I pray you, Steve, and the rest of your family and friends be filled with comfort and hope from God who moves in mysterious and wondrous ways. with you in your journey, Angelic.

  • Nancy Cahill

    Steve and Michelle. I have not seen you since you left UPC, but have thought of you often. Dave and I and our two daughters are praying for you regularly and we know that the Lord has you all in the palm of His hand. Bless you, Nancy Cahill and family

  • Cibenoy

    I am reading and praying Psalm 116. It seems to encompass what you've already experienced, what you are presently experiencing, and what you will experience as God continues to care for each of you. I am offering the “the sacrifice of thanksgiving to God ” for delivering you from “the snares of death encompassing (you)” v. 3. I am trusting Him to deliver you from “distress and anguish”, returning your soul to rest (v. 7). I am praying that verse 9 will be literally answered–that “(you) will walk before the LORD in the land of the living,” but I know it is true even as we speak–in the truest sense. From the beginning of this trial, I have heard expressions of thanksgiving and faith in the midst of the greatest of affliction (v. 10) . It is God Himself who will enable such expressions to continue, because He continues to work in you and through you, and you continue to entrust yourselves to Him. What a precious display of the treasure of Christ in your “jars of clay.”

    Standing with you in faith and hope–with gratitude,

    Carol Benoy

  • katie

    Once again am praying through the night for you, filled to the brim with compassion. I posted on my facebook page this link and now many more are also praying.
    Katie Mchargue
    Guinea bissau
    My African friends are also praying for you

  • Claire Skeggs

    “I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
    He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
    he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
    He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
    Many will see and fear
    and put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3)

    Despite an awareness of a “world of loss” to him, yes, Pastor Steve loves, endures, and yes blesses us around him a hundredfold in the process. Michelle, thank you for “being fortified and being filled with hope” every step of the way as you process “your own portion” every day. It is so humbling; it is so gratifying to our spirit!

    We remain steadfast and strong for Pastor Steve and family. Our prayers continue to surround you in your journey and we specifically pray for continued endurance, steadfastness and peace for you both Pastor Steve and Michelle. Tonight, we want you to sleep tight and sleep like a baby.

    Love from
    Claire & Andrew Skeggs
    UCM (and Brisbane, Queensland)