Guest Blogger: Karen Seiders

Today we have a post from our sister, Karen Seiders, speaking about suffering, and our handling of it.

Over the past 20 years or so I have been diagnosed with several long term illnesses and had several injuries that always seem to take a long time to heal. It seems like there is always something hurting me. I have so many different issues that when a new one comes along I tend to forget about how the other things affect my body at the same time. I often find that they all show their “ugly heads” in unison. I use so many medicines each day to treat my many issues that is embarrassing. I have tried to eliminate some but the doctors tell me that I can’t as they all treat one illness or another. I feel like my body is fighting against me. I am always in pain from one thing or another and it really wears on me.

I used to be very athletic and busy. I enjoyed physical activity very much. My life has changed dramatically and I don’t like it very much. But, this is what the Lord has for me right now.
I used to think that since I had been praying to die since I was about 8 years old, God had finally answered my prayer by giving me terminal illnesses. But, on the other hand, I thought maybe He was mad at me for something and this was my punishment.
I was always a worrier. My school teachers used to tell my parents that I was going to have a heart attack by the time I was 20. I got a job shortly after we moved to Kenosha as a stock broker and I finally got so stressed out I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and had to be treated with medication. As it turns out, most of my health issues are brought on by stress and exacerbated by stress so my doctor took me off of work and helped me get disability. She told my husband that if I didn’t give up working that I was going to die. I am now a homemaker but I still feel really stressed sometimes. My stomach feels like I have “butterflies” in it during those times.
I have found the way to deal with all of this–a relationship with God. Before I tried to do everything by my own strength and “smarts”. I was failing miserably and I finally came to the end of myself. I thought I had a relationship with the Lord but I realized that I really didn’t.
Since then I have wondered why God has allowed me to be in constant pain and why so many things go wrong. I have been reading much on this subject and searching the Word for answers lately. God has been good to show me that there are many reasons that He allows His childern to suffer.
I believe that God has used all of this, first and foremost, to bring me to repentance and salvation. When I think about that I realize that that is really the most important thing. Our time on earth is very short compared to eternity. I like the verse in the song Amazing Grace which says “when we’ve been there 10,000 years….we have no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun”. That just blows my mind.
I have realized that God uses these trials in my life to make me and mold me. My trials have shown me what I’m really “made of”. A lot of times I don’t like what I see and that causes me to go to God and repent and then to change my ways. I also realize that since I have endured and persevered in the past that I can “make it” the next time with God’s help. Sometimes I feel like just giving up, but I know that God says we are to fight the good fight, stay the course and keep the faith. He wants me to learn to persevere.
I have also been thinking about my Heavenly home that Jesus said He is preparing for me. I think about how great it will be someday to not hurt and to run and have fun, and be with Jesus for ever and ever.
I think God has also allowed my physical trials so that I can tell others about Him. When people hear about everything I am dealing with they usually ask how I can handle it all. I can then tell them that I can with the help of the Lord. My body is also scarred in many places due to the many surgeries I have had. When people see the ugly scars they usually ask me what happened. That gives me more opportunities to tell them about how keeping my eyes on the Lord gives me the strength to endure. Someone recently asked if I was going to pursue plastic surgery to make my scars less noticeable. When I thought about it, I said no because they give me opportunities to tell others about Jesus.
I have been told by several people that seeing how I have dealt with all of this over the years, that it has helped them to endure their trials. I think that sometimes God allows people to go through trials not for themselves but for others.
I am still working on my worry and stress issues. Jesus specifically told us not to worry, and that God will take care of us and provide for our needs. When worry comes I remember the words of David (I think–its in the Psalms) “I was young and now I am old and I have never seen (Christians) begging for bread”. I also think about how my actions speak to others. If I am worried and all stressed out about something, I am showing others that I really am not trusting in the Lord. How can I tell them to trust in the Lord when their life is stressful, if I don’t do it when mine is?
I have found that I have also not given every part of my life to God. I still hold on to things and try to handle them myself, as if I can do a better job than God can. I’m afraid that if I give these special parts of my life to God to control, He will make bad things happen. I tell myself that God is good and full of loving kindness. I think about how Jesus said that if we, sinners, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will God give to us since He is without sin. That we would not give our child a stone if he asks for bread, and since God is sinless how much better he will treat us. Those things encourage me.
When I can, I have also found that helping others keeps my eyes off of my own problems. It makes me happy to do something nice for someone else and you can’t be happy and sad all at the same time.
I spend most of my days alone. Some days I can really get depressed if I don’t keep my mind on the Lord. I usually keep christian radio on all day, I prefer contemporary christian music over listening to people talk. The words are very encouraging to me and keep my eyes on the Lord all day.
I also find that the time I spend in prayer each day helps me to cope. I just feel closer to God even though He says he is always closer than a brother. Sometimes when I am in the hospital and I am in a lot of pain, I find myself just asking God to help me. I remember that God says the Spirit prays for us when we are not able to pray. I know that He is with me and that I can just lean on Him during those times.
I just don’t know how nonchristians can do it all on their own strength? It must be so hard. For now, my mission field is in hospitals among doctors, nurses, etc., and in the places I can go when people ask me “What happened??” I think that He also wants me to show that I can be happy even when things are hard and tell them that this joy comes from my relationship with God. I almost feel “lucky” that God has trusted me enough to allow these trials into my life. He has counted me worthy to suffer for His name. Yes it hurts alot, but He is showing others Himself through me and if just one person comes to the Lord as a result, its all woth it.

Comments

  1. O Karen, thank you for such honest testimony. I don’t get to talk to you much, but this really gave me a picture of what it’s like to walk in your shoes…and it is humbleling! It puts my temporarily little trials in perspective — thank you again for your words.

    Love,
    Esme

  2. Linda C. says:

    Karen, Thank you so much for sharing these inspiring truths. It is a blessing and an encouragement to me to see how you have grown spiritually and how you recognize what the Lord can do through you in your “mission field”, regardless of your circumstances. These are good words from God, food for thought and sustenance in times of suffering. May God continue to bless and use you for His glory as you testify of His great mercy and love. Love you! Linda

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