Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Tag: grief

Test

I love reading and hearing stories of people who’ve been through extraordinary experiences. Two of my ‘go to’ books when I’m feeling low are Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place and Joni by Joni Eareckson Tada.

Corrie’s account of hiding Jews during WWII and consequently surviving Ravensbruck puts strength and heart in me, and reminds me of how to look at my own circumstances through an eternal lens. Joni’s story of learning how to live life abundantly again after a diving accident left her paralysed from the neck down also encourages me in the midst of difficulties.

Life for me over the past sixteen months has been testing and trying me to my limit (and beyond, it feels like sometimes). Struggling to come to terms with past events and mental illness, I am often overwhelmed, grieving and angry. Anger and grief beyond anything I’ve ever before experienced.

I have been reminded in the last few days that suffering is an expected part of life. We live in an imperfect world where people are selfish and do evil things. Suffering is the consequence. I don’t want my suffering to be for nothing. I am desperate for it to mean something, for there to be a purpose to it. To suffer for nothing leads me to despair.

Through testimonies like Corrie’s and Joni’s, I am reminded that with God suffering isn’t for nothing. My Father in heaven can somehow turn my past and present suffering to something good and beautiful. I am yet to see the fruit of this, but I am choosing to believe it will happen. This is God’s way: first comes suffering, then glory. Even Jesus had to suffer before the glory and reward.

Smith Wigglesworth puts it like this:

Great faith is the product of great fights.
Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests.
Great triumphs can only come out of great trials.

 

Faithful

Jack, my rabbit, had oodles of personality. He had full range of the garden and ground floor of the house. He knew he wasn’t allowed upstairs but had a funny habit of thundering up them if he thought I wasn’t watching and then stamping his hind legs at the top, as if to announce: ‘Mischief accomplished!’

Although he knew his name (something my two retired neighbours Mick and Jack thought amusing when chatting to one another across our back garden), he only came if he felt like it when I called him. Other times, he would race round and round the shed in the back garden with me exasperatedly panting after him.

I loved Jack dearly (as my friends at the time could testify) but I didn’t realise what a faithful friend he was until my dad died. For a very independent rabbit who only ever allowed cuddles on his terms, he lay by my side on the sofa for hours at a time licking my arms. It was the only way he knew to comfort me in my grief.

When Jack himself died, I missed him like crazy. Even now on clear, starry nights I look up at Orion’s Belt and remember my little J-J. One of my favourite things was to hold him in my arms while admiring the night-sky, in awe that the same God who spoke galaxies into creation also made cute, furry bunny rabbits.

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