Suffering is inescapable. Jesus knew it and so should every Christian. The only choice we have is whether we will suffer well or not. Let me share one of our new books, Finding Joy in the Journey by Dian Sustek. This is a book that incarnates the truth as it wraps truth around a person and shows us the way–the way to live well and the way to die well.
“Several months before my husband John died, we went to lunch with friends who had walked this path with us from the beginning. I remember it was Mother’s Day and we were at Landry’s. Because of something wonderful that God had done for John, his good friend and Pastor, Dave Anderson told him he should write a book about all that he had gone through concerning the joy that God had given him, because he had never heard of anything like this ever happening to anyone else. Betty, Dave’s wife, and I agreed and we encouraged John to do just that! When we got home, I could tell John was beginning to get excited about the new project. At this point, John would get so obsessed about things he was thinking about, he couldn’t focus on anything else but what was going through his mind. That very night he stayed up all night writing his book on his phone. Had he lived, this would have been the way his book began. “I was born on October 20, 1944, in a bank in Del Rio, Texas. I was a deposit, not a withdrawal…” John started from the beginning, obsessing over every detail that he could remember about his childhood, his years in grade school and on through his years at Rice up until he and I met and married. He never had the time to get to the part that Dave had wanted him to write. And while our family listened as he tried to get things straight in his mind up until a matter of a week or so before he died, I knew I had to tell the account of what was truly the most miraculous thing I had ever witnessed. This is his story, but it’s also very much mine.
FINDING JOY IN THE JOURNEY
Have you ever asked the question: “God, how can I know you more intimately?” When I asked that question, I was talking about knowing Him deeply, realizing He was all I needed, and feeling Him with me all the time—like I knew John. I suppose I was really asking: “How can I actually experience You, Lord?” His answer was not what I had expected—cancer. Not my own, that would have been preferable. His answer was cancer in the one I loved most. But let me add—if you do not get to know the word of God before a trial or tragedy comes, it will be very difficult to see the hand of God in the midst of the trial. Many voices vie for your attention daily and it’s very difficult to hear the voice of God when you haven’t studied or been in an abiding relationship with Him in prayer and His Word. Fellowshipping with Him allows you to recognize His ways and detect the lies that the enemy and the world throw at you.
This book is our story. Honestly, it’s my story after the love of my life graduated to his forever home! It’s about the most horrible yet God-ordained thing that has ever happened to me. God has impressed on me that I am to share it. I never would have chosen this path, and I can honestly tell you that until two years after losing the one I loved intimately for 46 years, I thought I would never be whole again. BUT GOD…every good story is a gospel story! Remember, this isn’t about me…it’s about God and the story He has written on my heart. He is writing a story on yours, too—and as you read mine, I hope that you will begin thinking of where you are in yours. You won’t know He is writing your story unless you make a conscious effort to watch what God is doing. My challenge for you as you read this is that you will make a decision during each event in your life—to see God’s hand in your circumstances.
As I was praying about writing my account of walking with my sweet John through his battle with cancer, I remembered a song by Francesca Battisteli that John and I heard many times driving to and from MDACC (M.D. Anderson Cancer Center). WRITE YOUR STORY ON MY HEART. I wasn’t sure then, but as time went on and I prayed, I began to realize that God was indeed writing HIS STORY on MY HEART and on the heart of my husband. And now, I believe He has asked me to share it with you.
With that said, here it is. It’s been a lot more difficult to write than I had thought because it has caused me to recall many times when John and I laughed and cried together. It has made me come to grips with the fact that my life will never be the same again, but that I wouldn’t want it to because God in His grace has grown me into a gentler, kinder and more compassionate woman, so that I can minister to others who need to know that there is comfort and surprisingly, joy after the death of the better part of you. “
When I first read the manuscript of this book, I found myself crying often and praying that I would have the courage for whatever the Lord has for my life. I think you will find it to be very helpful for your life. This is also a great book to give to anyone who is going through a tough time. You can get a copy of this encouraging book from our store.
Until He comes for us,
Fred Chay, PhD
Grace Theology Press