[guestpost]NOTE: For timely news on Michele’s surgery, treatment and healing journey, you can find regular updates on her Facebook page. [/guestpost]
I didn’t expect a Red Sea Moment that morning.
As per my new routine, I was up at 5:45 a.m, to take a shower, get dressed, dry my hair (something that’s less and less necessary every day. Boo.). Ready for the day, I headed downstairs and parked myself in my favorite reading chair. Thirty minutes, then I needed to leave. For radiation.
Several weeks ago, before “normal-crazy” turned into “crazy-on-crack,” I decided I needed something to read or focus on during these long weeks of treatment. Ideally, I hoped to find a book of the Bible with exactly twenty-eight chapters, one for each of my twenty-eight days of radiation and chemo.
The Gospel of John.
That was my first thought. Except John came up short. Only twenty-one chapters. On a whim, I flipped ahead to John’s other writings: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. Seven chapters total.
I’d found my twenty-eight.
That day—Treatment Day #11—I read John 11.
The story of Lazarus. And Jesus raising him from the dead.
Ironic, yes? If it wasn’t for all those still-sleeping little people, I would’ve laughed out loud.
I love this story. Who wouldn’t? It has a good ending, and I’m ALL about good endings. But last Tuesday, I found myself intrigued by Jesus’ emotions. For example, he “loved” Mary, Martha and Lazarus. And yet when he heard Lazarus was deathly ill, “He waited.” Then, when he finally arrived at their home much too late, he was “deeply troubled.” Ultimately, “He wept.”
Whoa. Not something to rush past. Jesus. Wept.
I used to think Jesus cried because Lazarus had died. They’d been friends, they loved each other. It only makes sense to shed a few tears.
And yet, Jesus knew long before he arrived that Lazarus’ “sickness will not end in death” (vs. 4). He knew a grand finale would trump the grief.
He knew. Still he cried. Deep, soul-ripping sobs.
Why? Why did God-With-Us weep? I can’t presume to know the mind of God, but I believe he wept over the wide swath of suffering on that hillside. The sound of keening mourners. The inconsolable sisters. And, perhaps, Jesus wept over this vast world filled to the gills with those who weep and keen without relief.
People like you and like me.
That’s when I started to cry.
Do you see my suffering, God? Do you see how I ache for all this to go away? Do you hear my cries, feel my pain? DO YOU WEEP FOR ME? I need to know!
This was my prayer on the morning of Radiation Treatment #11. More a “demand” than an “ask.” And filled with big, necessary questions.
Questions you may have asked, may be asking.
For a minute or two, I waited in my chair. Waited for the sky to split and heaven to deliver my answer.
A girl can hope.
Closing John 11, I left the chair behind and dove into my day. I couldn’t be late for radiation.
By the time I parked at the Cancer Center, a text message was waiting from my friend Kathi Lipp:
God and I had a long chat about you this morning. He wants you to know He’s got this. You don’t need to stress or worry this morning. Today, he’s got you.
Not exactly a memo from heaven, but close. I smiled. Then I walked into Treatment Day #11 with a little more hope.
Little did I know the greater miracle was yet to come.
When I sat down in the waiting room, I again pulled out my phone. It’d been a couple days since I last checked this blog. I needed to see if any new comments had come in.
A good thing I did. There was one. THIS ONE:
I am working in customer service emails & just received an automated email reply from your server with reference to this blog. I decided to check it out.
What you couldn’t have known is that I had just been in the ladies room at work, crying out to Jesus, asking Him why He has allowed what feels like such unending suffering in my life this past year.
And I believe that being the customer service agent that received your automated email & was led by His Holy Spirit to this blog was our Heavenly Father’s answer to my restless heart.
Two months ago I set up an automated reply to my email inbox, knowing it would be impossible to keep up over the following months. I hoped this would help concerned friends and colleagues to know they mattered, even if I couldn’t reply.
What I DIDN’T consider is that I occasionally use one of these email addresses for other purposes. The day before Treatment Day #11, I’d ordered flowers for my mama from a national company. As a result, the company sent an automated receipt to my inbox. My server then sent the automated reply back, which typically goes to a no-reply address and is forever lost in the black hole of internet nothingness.
Not this time. This time, my automated email landed in the inbox of a customer service rep named Nina. A girl who—only moments before—had wept and asked God if he sees her suffering.
Sweet mercy from heaven. Okay, God. I hear you. And? Thanks.
Does God see our suffering? Yes. A thousand times, YES. And perhaps one of the most beautiful ways He reveals his nearness is when He moves heaven and earth to link our tears with those of another.
If you’re in place of suffering, please know this: God sees, even when it doesn’t feel like it. He is “deeply troubled” by your pain. He counts and carries your tears.
And yes, He weeps.
I am so blessed to read these posts. I am not suffering from any physical things, but we all have issues which the Father is weeping for us!
I won’t go on and on…pay attention to the “11’s” you are seeing….signifies TRANSITION in a good sense of the word.
My situation…work related…now unemployed and seeking meaningful employment. If I could have $1 for every “11” I saw on a clock or elsewhere in the past year (many times waking up with an 11 on the clock in the middle of the night) it would be enough cash for a nice cruise or like.
Thanks for sharing! Keeping you in my prayers!
Wow! Praying for you.
Michele. I’m not one to cry often. But yesterday as I was praying the tears came. I wondered the same things. God do you see? Do you care? Are you here with me still? This post answered that question for me once again. Thank you!
Michelle, you are truly an amazing woman. Thank you for finding the time to encourage us with your beautiful writing in the midst of all that you are going through. God bless you. x
Do you think sharing with others not only your happy times but also your times of trouble is what we should do? Because one thing leads to another (like what happened with you here) and in the end most sorrow and trouble finds joy in the end, somehow? When a group I am involved in asked if there are prayer requests I seldom put my troubles out there, feeling I will be judged or thought of in a totally different light. But then, will they really ever know me if they think my life is not without needed prayer? I struggle with that. With putting it ‘out there’. After reading this, I think by not sharing you just will never get the full rewards of promises made, and therefore maybe someone else will miss it altogether. Hmmmmmm
Thanks for continuing to share and be real as you go through your suffering.
For some time now our church along with others have been praying for Windle Vyars. He is now 11 years old and his family was doing mission work in Pakistan when he was diagnosed with Cancer.
When my pastor started talking about him Sunday, I thought he was going to say he had died. They sent him home to hospice shortly before Christmas. But God . . . he now shows no sign of Cancer. Yes!
If you want to read more about his story:
Praying for you!
I love this, Michele. So true. Mary and Martha’s words to Jesus, “If you had been here . . .” revealed their faith in Jesus’ ability. But they also reveal their disappointment in His delay. I guess they assumed because Jesus could have saved Lazarus, He should have.
Pain often tempts us to view Jesus this way. We have pain and prayer should solve it. Immediately. But it wasn’t Jesus’ lack of concern that caused His delay. This story reveals that the exact opposite. He waited because of His love for the sisters and for Lazarus (John 11:5-6). It’s hard to feel God’s love when we’ve cried out to Him, perhaps for years, and He seems to ignore us. Our pain blurs what Jesus sees clearly.
As you point out, Jesus walks with us—and weeps—along the painful road that leads to death . . . but also to resurrection.
Thanks for sharing, Michele – I have a friend (or two) on your same journey who need to hear this today. Praying for strength, peace, healing, and more pictures of God!
Thank you Michele, this has been my exact same question for some time now, as I have been unemployed for 14 months. Feeling very alone, I’ve also been wondering.
Last night my daughter came in my room about 11:30 and whispered, “You still awake mom?” It was one of those moments I knew she was going to let me in – they always happen past 10 p.m. never earlier. She said the following, “I realized tonight mom, that all those times I was hurting, the moments I cried, the days I felt rejected and alone, God felt every feeling I felt. He wasn’t distant, He was connected to me so my feelings became His feelings. When I was angry He was angry, when I was sad, He was sad. I was never alone and He was never ignoring me.” Like you, she had the epiphany in her own way, why Jesus wept. I look forward to sharing your blog with her. Our family continues to pray for you. My husband, who fought throat cancer, now follows you and is cheering you on over here as well.
I am praying these amazing words were also meant for sweet friends who have suffered ridiculously over the past two years (crazy stuff, really), only to be told this weekend that their tiny newborn has cancer. Thanks for your faithfulness, and thanks for sharing your story.
Oh, my friend!
I’ve been praying for you and missing you. Your words and wisdom are timely for me. Thank you for using the strength you have to love others. As you battle, know you are deeply loved and covered in prayer for miraculous healing. Love you!
I should start out and tell you I am not gifted as a writer or with wonderful words.. but it comes straight from my heart.
Today was my day to pray for you during your treatment. I saw this song on line and had to find the lyrics and I think it goes with what you are saying. GOD sees your tears and he is holding you near. I pray for you and your family daily and wish I could do more to help but I know how important prayer is so I will continue to go before the thorne for you. This song is from Casting Crowns and I have read them many times and I wanted you to read them too.
Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on
And when youre tired of fighting
Chained by your control
Theres freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go
So when youre on your knees and answers seem so far away
Youre not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
Im on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held
If your eyes are on the storm
Youll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
Youll know I always have and I always will
And not a tear is wasted
In time, youll understand
Im painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands
Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where youll find Me
And where you are, Ill hold your heart
Ill hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who wont let go
I hope these words help you today. I pray that you will be held by Jesus today and all the days ahead of you.
Just what we all need to hear, Michele: God sees our suffering, He hears our groans, and He cares, always. Praying for you in your season of weeping.
Oh, Michelle. I sat in my little chair this morning, wondering if God was really here. I wondered if I was wasting my life believing in a God that seemed to be invisible. Then instead of wondering, I prayed. I asked God to bring to my mind who I needed to pray for, and He said that instead of focusing on my pain, I should pray for you. Then I sat down and saw this. Tears are streaming down my face as I realize that God just keeps circling us in His loving arms, reminding us all that He is here.
I love your heart friend. I love the way you give others permission, and even and invitation to wrestle with what hurts; what just feels. I have a love/hate relationship with my tears. My tears feel for me and for others.
One of the greatest things i’ve read about tears is, “Tears, those tiny drops of humanity. Those round, wet balls of fluid that tumble from our eyes, creep down our cheeks, and splash on the floor of our hearts. Tears are miniature messengers; on call twenty-four hours a day to substitute for crippled words. They drip, drop, and pour from the corner of our souls, carrying with them the deepest emotions we possess. They tumble down our faces with announcements that range from the most blissful joy to darkest despair.”
Jesus, the man of perfect words also used tears for some of his. My soul connects most with him through the window of my tears. Where pain is present, so is He.
Almost 2 years ago a very dear friend lost her 21 year old son in a car accident. My son and him were very best friends since preschool. My heart was “Very Heavy” for this family and my son. My friend text me on the 27th, “This is THE HARDEST EVER!!! PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!!!! It would have been her son’s 22 birthday. God knew I wanted to do something different then just saying I’m praying for you, which is a common statement, and in all honesty sometimes doesn’t happened. On March 31, God put a thought in my heart to do something different and with technology now days I was able to do it. The next day was April 1 (April Fool’s) and was this a joke? I asked God. Also, from my favorite devotional “Jesus Calling” The scripture for that day was “Pray continuously!” I knew this was a “sign”. I text my friend on March 31 and said I would be texting her a prayer every day for I don’t know how long. It ended up I texted her a prayer for 1 year minus about a handful of days throughout that year I missed. These were prayers that I prayed over, I cried over and they challenged me on praying for my dear friend. A lot of the time these were not my words but God’s words. If God will lead you to it He will lead you through it! I learned that day.
Oh… Wow…. So thankful to you dear Brenda, Brenda Rother Schiro, and your sweet friend Michele Cushatt…. I’m in tears … So profound and so much of a testimony to all of us about how our Lord cares for each one of us… These “coincidences” and how they “coincide” with each one of us is nothing but the hand of God. Prayer for Michele an Nina on the way… Much love to all. Michele: just read this blog about your day on day 11… I saw the blog because I am a friend of Brenda Schiro… and she was kind to share. Michele, fight one day at the time and knowing you have a great faith, I know all this will also pass and you will be just fine… Stronger and very much in His grip. Blessings.
You are a brave most beautiful lifegiving woman Michele. I love you and I am so glad you are in my life. Keep going. God sees you.
Thank you for sharing your journey. He is speaking loudly through your words and through your life. Even though you may feel empty… It is clear to all that He is filling your cup.
Wow, Michele! God has been showing up for me in ways just like this, too. He is alive and active and we will find Him when we seek with all our hearts. Thank you for your bravery through this season in your life. Your transparency is truly changing lives!
As someone who has walked your walk, I pray for you. Keep moving no matter how tired or crappy you feel, nutrition is key, and keep loved ones close. You are a very special lady and you are needed right here.
I am going through a very difficult time in my life and have been so blessed by family, friends, strangers, and most importantly, a loving God. I read that same chapter recently and stumbled over “Jesus wept” because of my own tears.
I wondered – did Jesus weep because his closet friends and supporters, those who trusted him the most, had no FAITH in him at that time?
Prayers for you – for your health, your suffering, and those whose lives are a little more hopeful through the faith you demonstrate.
How could you know I needed to read these words tonight?
I have been struggling since 2011 when I lost my job of 15 years. I was managing until 2013. In January, unable to find another job (I’m 52 now), I ran out of money. In April my mother, who had lived with me for the past 18 years, went in for open heart surgery (her second one in 10 years). She ended up spending 18 days in ICU (the surgery was a success and her heart worked perfectly… her lungs just never recovered) before she died. Then, in May, I lost my car and by the end of August, I lost my house (the bank was sympathetic to my predicament but not to the point of letting me keep them without paying for them).
For the first time in my entire life I had no idea what I was going to do, or where I was going to go. Thankfully, one of my sisters opened her home to me. Currently, though, I have been staying at my oldest son’s house and basically raising my 2 year old grandson (a long story) even though my son and his fiance live in the same house.
To say I have been stressed and stretched beyond belief is an understatement. I haven’t felt God’s presence in a long time. My son and his fiance are not Christians, and I have to depend upon them for my needs.
My heart has felt dry. Dead. I find myself falling into some of my old patterns and thoughts. I started January 2015 with the Daniel Fast, desperately wanting God to meet with me, even though my time is mostly filled with taking care of my grandson. I’m tired all of the time (at almost 2 years old, he doesn’t sleep through the night yet) and in a 2 BR home, he sleeps with me… so, I don’t get very good sleep… All of this, on top of depending on my son for money if I want to do something, or need something… not being able to support myself…
To shorten this story, I have been feeling like God doesn’t even notice me, and if he has, he doesn’t care. Not 15 minutes ago I ran across Aaron and Jeoffrey’s “Heal Me” video (http://youtu.be/z0wYRSlQIsE), and it felt like he was singing the song about me. Then, as I checked on Facebook, someone shared your blog. I wept as I read it.
Thank you for sharing your heart. It spoke volumes to me. God used you, in your suffering, to minister to me in mine. I pray that God grants you health in this new year, in Jesus name.
I am praying for you and your beautiful
Deuteronomy 2:3 you have circled this mountain long enough now turn north
Thank you for the article. This too has been on my mind for quite sometime. I got divorced, not my choice, and I am suffering a great deal. I talk to God but I wish He would really talk to me. I know He listens but I have a question that I wish He would answer as to why? Why did He allow this to happen? The suffering, the pain is unbearable. I know there is a bigger plan, but why at my expense and my children’s expense. I am sorry, I am devastated.
Of course you’re devastated, Monica. It’s a HUGE loss. Goodness, I’m so sorry. My heart breaks for you. I’ve been there, 16 years ago. I remember it well. There was a time when I truly thought my life was over. I couldn’t imagine any way I’d be able to LIVE again. Devastation is precisely the right word. I wish I had some miracle answer for you. But I can tell you that you WILL get through, and you will be surprised at the beauty of life on the other side. Although God may seem silent right now, wait for Him. Believe he’s there. Trust His heart. And, in time, I believe he will end up speaking to you more clearly and profoundly than you ever imagined. I’m with you. ~Michele
Jesus, you see our quiet tears and hear our loudest cries. You walk beside us and remind us that you are the Eternal–the great I AM. Wrap your loving arms around Michele. Touch her with Your amazing grace. Restore what is impaired and make it sound–lacking nothing. Redeem what has been stolen, and return its value in abundance. Protect Michele from any further physical attacks, and bless her family during this season. You are our Healer and our Hope! In Jesus mighty name. Amen.
While we have never met I enjoy your comments with Michael Hyatt. I only recently heard of your journey and looked on your website for an update. I trust God is healing you in His way and time. As I reviewed your site I wondered if you would like one more book/devotional to read (I am sure people send thousands). One of my board members recently gave me this book for “praying scripture back to God”. I loved it so much I purchased copies for my entire staff. The book is Face to Face by Dr. Kenneth Boa (Amazon has it). It has been a real place of peace and challenge in my quiet time. My wife Kim and I live down the road in Colorado Springs so will keep you in our prayers. Thanks for your insights with Michael.
I’m about to read/review your book for BookLookBloggers, and wanted to check out your blog beforehand. You speak my heart. We have eight children, and in the mix three of our boys have stepped off the curb in terms of how we’ve raised them. Immorality and sin abounding, and we’ve found out such hard things about them in just the last couple of months. Too much. You share the hard stuff, and I thank you. I’m tired of Christians attempting to be perfect, because simply there aren’t any of us. It’s a false hope that we’re perfect.
God bless you on your journey.
I listened to your interview with Colleen Swindoll Thompson yesterday, and, yes, I wept.
I wept for myself, for my son with special needs who is totally nonverbal and whose future looks so uncertain, for you and your family, and for all those hurting out there. Life is HARD!
But thank you so much for your keen words of encouragement despite your suffering and hurt.
I pray that God will continue to strengthen and heal you. Know that you have definitely touched my life.
God bless you, Michelle.
A friend of mine from work forwarded this blog entry to me. Her timing – God’s timing – couldn’t have been more perfect. My 22 year old son is undergoing chemotherapy – he just finished treatment #11 of 12 treatments for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He has had every possible side effect imaginable – in and out of hospital and ER. There are many nights when I stand at the door way of my son’s room, watching him sleep, with tears pouring down my face – wondering why my child has to suffer so much. It should be me, not him. I also have been grieving the loss of my marriage as my husband committed adultery in 2013. Why so much “stuff” in such a short span of time? I needed to be reminded today that God knows my pain and worries. That he’s got everything under control. Thank you.
Hello Michele, Thank you so much for the podcast with you and Michael Hyatt concerning your book, Undone. It is one that I will want to read for sure! I could identify many times over. I finished writing a book a year ago, very similar in category to yours. My husband fell from our roof top and became paralyzed 23 years ago, and just when I thought nothing else big should/could happen to us, I had open heart surgery. In a word, my book is to ENCOURAGE others not to give up or quit when they face hard times. I have done nothing with the book, and God has not let me alone about it. Truly, I wanted to just put a stamp on it and mail it to a publisher and forget it. (funny, right?) When I researched the web for addresses, the mountain crumbled upon me. When I say “mountain” I mean the Rockies! I did “stumble” upon Michael Hyatt’s site and have received much needed information on publishing. I have been completely “anti-social media.” It is pretty overwhelming to say the least, to learn that you have to develop a Facebook page, tweet, and blog. After my initial response to myself with telling God how I couldn’t do all of that, furthermore, didn’t want to do all of that, He quietly began to let me see with my spiritual eyes all of the possibilities that it could open up. I have known that our family has a destiny that we have not reached, and for the first time I began to “see” how we could get there. When you want to get from point A to point B, you must have a vehicle. I can see now how my book of our experiences can Encourage others and get us to the place that we need to be. Thank you for being an Encouragement to me by sharing your blog. I can’t wait to read your book! Sabrina
Beautiful ???? Thank you!!!