Jeff & Jane Richards Update: Part II
Back in May, Jeff and Jane Richards joined Tab on stage and shared an update with us on various areas surrounding his cancer diagnosis back in November 2018.
We wanted to make available his continued thoughts on words of advice he might have for us as we face trials and suffering.
3. What words of advice would you have for us when we face trials and suffering in our own lives?
“First, we should not be surprised by suffering. Romans 8:22 says, “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” And 2 Corinthians 5:2 echos the same thing where it says, “For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven.”
“Second, suffering can be a roller coaster ride: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Soon after my diagnosis I was talking to Van on the phone and I said, “ever since my Primary Care physician called me and told me to get to the ER because I had a mass in my head, it’s been Mr. Toad’s wild ride, and I want to get off.” Van wisely said, “Well, Jeff, I’ve got news for you. Keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times….the ride’s not over; it’s just beginning.” The roller coaster ride can start with a physical issue like Chemo sickness, fatigue, headaches. After awhile, that physical suffering grinds you down mentally and you become mentally fatigued which leads to your mind going places it shouldn’t. In turn, that leads to emotional fatigue which can lead to spiritual fatigue. Then the cycle repeats.
“Third, when suffering inevitably does come and you are on the roller coaster, good theology and doctrine matter. If you don’t get this right, if you don’t have a decent understanding of who God is, you will immediately doubt God’s goodness and start asking questions like “why me?” and feeling sorry for yourself. We know Him by knowing His Word. And God loves to be reminded of His Promises found in His Word. So pray the Scriptures. Additionally, fellowship matters. Looking back, I see the last 17 years of fellowship at both this church and the North County church as preparing us for this trial. So read your bible. Pray your Bible. Prioritize church attendance and fellowship with other believers.
“However, there is an intimacy with God you’re not going to experience any other way but by trials and sufferings. 1 Peter 1:3-9 sums it up when it says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” Suffering, in a way nothing else has, has made me long for eternity with the Lord. Randy Alcorn, in his book We Shall See Heaven, helpfully expressed this when he wrote, “A Christian’s experience is like a rainbow made up of drops of griefs and sorrow of this life here on earth refracted through beams of happiness of heaven.” This suffering is preparing me for heaven. Actually, it is preparing us all for heaven because suffering in the church body is a shared experience. We are all participating in the sufferings of Christ together. “Grief never ends…but it changes. It’s a passage not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness or a lack of faith. It’s the price of love.” I am so grateful to you all for paying the price of love as you suffer with us, grieve with us, and hope with us.”