No one can avoid pain, but it’s how we choose to respond that makes all the difference.
Terri Edwards is no stranger to tragedy. In 2007 she lost her first husband after a 13-month battle with cancer and two years later got the devastating news that her 17-year-old son, Jonathan, had leukemia. He spent the greater part of the next 6 months in the hospital dealing with numerous complications and in October of 2009 passed away.
Every parent’s nightmare is to lose a child. Yet in the wake of trauma, God is there helping us process through our pain. Over the last several years Terri and her family have found hope and healing in the context of spiritual family here at Milestone Church. As she’s been faithfully serving in our preschool ministry, engaging in small groups with her husband, and attending services, God’s been mending the broken pieces of her heart.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Some seasons are incredibly difficult, but when we are grateful in all of them, we find a peace that’s greater than our circumstances. Take a look at what God spoke to Terri through last weekend’s message on gratitude:
“Before I begin, let me remind you I’m not a preacher; however I felt compelled to share from a wonderful sermon I heard last night. Our minister was talking about giving thanks. I at first thought, great, another sermon telling me I should be grateful for everything that has happened in my life including the death of a husband and son. But I listened and I’m so glad I did.
His first verse was explaining that God asks us to give thanks not FOR all things that occur, but IN all things that occur. That one little word makes all the difference.
So I began to make a mental list of things I was thankful for during Jon’s illness. I was thankful that God entrusted me with blessing me with 17 years of raising, hugging, laughing, smiling, learning, and loving the most wonderful son a mother could imagine. I am thankful that God has given me the promise that I will live forever and be able to talk to, hug, watch, and love my children in heaven. I am thankful that my son knew Jesus and was assured of his salvation. I am thankful that my son saw and was comforted by angels in the ICU at Cook’s. I am thankful that I heard a wonderful sermon reminding me that God doesn’t ask that I be thankful for the death of my son, but I am so thankful for the life my son lived and continues to live forever and ever.”
As a pastor, when you study and prepare for a message, you don’t know the impact it will have on those listening. What an encouragement to see God moving in the lives of people like Terri in our church each week. Terri, thank you for your transparency in sharing your powerful story with us.