“I heard about His healing,
Of His cleansing pow’r revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, “Dear Jesus,
Come and heal my broken spirit,”
And somehow Jesus came and bro’t
To me the victory.”
The trials we experience in life serve a greater purpose beyond our small world. These trials come in many forms; physical, spiritual, and emotional. While no one escapes trials, thankfully “the Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness” (Romans 8:26). God uses them to guide and shape us. My greatest trials began long after I was saved. Allow me to share my testimony, fellowship, and family story with you.
I was born, raised, and continue to live in New Jersey. I asked Christ into my heart as a nine year old at a youth rally and the speaker was Ted Whittle. I began fellowshipping at Kenilworth Gospel Chapel when I was in college and had the privilege of attending Bible studies with Fred MacKenzie. After I got married I attended Woodside Chapel in Fanwood. I fellowshipped and ministered there for 25 years serving under the eldership of Alan Schetelich. Since 2009 I have been in fellowship at Mountain Ridge Bible Chapel under the eldership of Bob Dadd and Doug Tremper.
In 1982 I married a fellow believer who grew up in the assemblies. We have two children, a 27 year old daughter who knows The Lord, is a Dance/Movement therapist, and is seeking to serve the Lord on the mission field. Our son is 25, knows The Lord, and is attending college. Prior to my marriage, my husband shared with me a past history of two suicide attempts – he reassured me he was fine and because of my love for him, a belief in our relationship, and my professional background (I am a special education teacher) I felt that we could overcome any obstacle. Plus, I reminded myself of a prayer to God “telling” Him that I felt I could serve Him better if I were married; we could have a ministry together.
Little did I know, as God reminded me during our struggles, that serving God meant watching over my husband and helping to keep him alive.
In 2003 he had his first suicide attempt during our marriage. By 2004, he was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder with Bi-Polar symptoms. After numerous hospitalizations and suicide attempts he decided to leave the family in 2006. God reminded me that my husband had not rejected me or our family but the help that God provided (counseling, medication, and a supportive family).
In his wake, he left a son with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, a daughter with anger, trust, and abandonment issues, and me with Adrenal Exhaustion. I am grateful to the Lord that as of this year my son is able to live on his own and attend college with financial support, my daughter is working in her field (after completing her Masters), and the Lord is healing my body. Thankfully, the Lord has not allowed my husband to be successful in his suicide attempts; as of today he is still alive.
However, because of his misperceptions he divorced me in 2007, continues to be willfully non-compliant regarding treatment, and has not attempted to reconcile other than to tell the kids his is “fixed” and they need the help. We do pray for him and our daughter has attempted to encourage him to get help but to no avail. Our family of four became a family of three, each remaining close to the Lord. This preservation has come from a faithful and gracious God who has provided us with a fellowship of believers who faithfully pray for us and avail themselves to us even when they don’t fully understand all that mental illness encompasses.
Victory through the Word
The victory that came and that hope that allowed for healing were grounded in several practical Scriptures. First, God taught me to focus on the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5); especially love, joy, and peace. If I focus on God’s love for me and grow in my love for the Lord then I will find joy in God, not the situation, which in turn will lead to peace in the midst of difficulties. Next, I had to learn to “be still and know” God (Psalm 46:10), “stand by and watch the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13) , and “do not be worried about your life” (Matthew 6:25).
Along with that I needed to work on the willingness to let go of control – control of my husband’s life (whether he lived or died), control of the safety of my children when they were away from me, and control of our living situation (we were broke several times). These lessons did not come easily, but I was always able to claim God’s promises; He “draws near to the brokenhearted . . . saves . . . delivers” them from afflictions (Psalm 34:18-19), “the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory” (Deuteronomy 20:4), and “He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power” (Isaiah 40:29).
I can look back after about 16 years of struggling with this creature called mental illness and honestly say I would never have asked to go through these trials. However, because of these trials I have grown closer to the Lord and He has faithfully preserved us. My son reminded me that the struggles made him the person he is today. We do not see ourselves as victims but victors and seek to use our experiences as a vehicle to help support others in similar situations.
In Christ Alone
“In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.”