Gratitude in Suffering


For more than fifteen years, I’ve experienced dizziness, nausea, pain, headaches, weakness, along with dozens of other symptoms. I’ve seen well over fifty doctors in hospitals all over the country. I’ve developed multiple lesions in my brain stem that have rendered me unable to walk, sit up, or stand. This past December I had brain surgery.

Even the doctors at Mayo Clinic declared me to be a neurological puzzle.

This week I received a diagnosis. The emotion was overwhelming.

I couldn’t have made it through these years of frustration without the support of many people.

People who never wavered or stepped away from my side for a moment. People who never questioned the reality of my symptoms. People who didn’t shame me for slowing down and stepping back.

People who sat beside me, wept with me, held my hand, cleaned up my vomit, brought meals, helped with our bills, prayed with us, asked the right questions at the right times and were sensitive enough to know when silence was a gift.

Friends who did not judge, but allowed me and continue to allow me to work through sorrow, grief, confusion, pain, and suffering as a lifetime journey with illness.

  • Thank you to Dan, who supported me every moment and never wavered. You are the most amazing husband in the world.
  • Thank you to my children and their spouses, who loved and supported me unflinchingly.
  • Thank you to my dear friend Wanda, who has helped with household chores, cooking, and sat beside me in the pain.
  • Thank you to those who have sacrificed, given, prayed, cooked, and done so much to support me. Thank you, Blythefield family. I don’t have words to express my gratitude for my church.

This journey has been hard. I have cried many tears, and I’m sure there will be more ahead. At times I have felt abandoned, angry, and confused. Even Jesus cried out to God in His suffering. Faith doesn’t require emotionless stoicism.

God’s goodness still overwhelms me.

My mind will never be able to comprehend His goodness and love. Love so great that He allowed all of humanity–including me–to heap our sins upon His Son. Love so intimate that He is with me snd never leaves my side in my suffering.

I pray I never forget to be grateful, that I never cease to see the Love that envelopes my life, even in sickness, suffering, and pain. And that I never stop pointing people to God’s goodness and greatness.

But gratitude does not come automatically–especially when everything inside us screams out, “Why me?”

  • So I choose my focus.I must stay grounded in the Word of God by choice, not because my emotions lead me there or my body wants to get up earlier in the morning for my devotional time. This choice requires discipline and commitment.
  • I choose my attitude. I check my self-talk and stinkin’ thinking, then repent. I’ve chosen a lifestyle of repentance that is followed by walking in grace. The two are linked in a daily cycle.
  • I choose my words. I’m called to look like Jesus to those around me–the phlebotomist who is trying for the sixth time to place an IV in my painful arm or the telemarketer who woke me up. I also choose the self-talk I allow because my thoughts are the control center of my mind and heart.


What about you? How do you find gratitude in suffering? 

4 thoughts on “Gratitude in Suffering

  1. Dear friend, you are a glory to the Father. You have endured so much and helped so many along the way. . .you really are an example of HUGE faith in God. Love you bunches! I know it’s not about this. . .but as they say, you’re crown will be great in eternity:) What a day that will be when He welcomes you there. . .until then, thank you for pressing in and and showing the way to Him!

    • Thank you, Roxy. Your words are precious to me, dear friend. Sending hugs.

  2. Dear Shelly: I don’t even know where to begin. My heart reaches out to you and my prayers, and hopes, rise up for you. We’re all in the homestretch, I believe, headed, finally, for strength and joy. I really look forward to that day when we’ll watch you leaping like a lamb from its stall. Meanwhile, as we pray for you, please intercede for us all in this time of crisis in our world. That is still the most foundational,urgent and effective ministry in the world, and are a radical part of God’s plan as long as you can breathe a prayer. You are still a power for God, Shelly. Your love and grace come shining through. And we won’t give up praying for a major physical breakthrough, either. Never. I’m so glad to have become friends with you. Your fan, Carol

    • Thank you so much, dear Carol. We are going to meet one of these days and exchange big hugs. When I grow up, I want to be like you. I am so blessed by the precious prayers of friends. As long as I can pray, I have a ministry, and as long as I can sit in front of a computer, I can touch lives with hope. This is my heart’s desire. Thank you so much for your encouragement.

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