Abiding through Suffering

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When Doctors told 15-year-old Bethany she had an aggressive brain tumour, she immediately set the scene for her final year on Earth. ‘Nothing has authority over my life except the Lord Jesus’,’ she declared.

‘We cried together,’ said her mother Lyn, ‘and we just committed the whole journey to him.’ At first of course, they asked for healing, but as Bethany lost movement in her body, and her speech deteriorated, it became clear that this wasn’t God’s plan.

But Bethany stuck to her word. ‘Her faith just continued to flourish and grow,’ Lyn said, ‘and while she could speak, she could just be sharing with people how Jesus was with her through the whole thing. She really got it, and she set the tone for all of us, and took the baton of faith and ran ahead of us.

‘But to be honest, I was way behind, in the sense of just watching our girl suffer so much, and just crying out to God, where are you in this? Where are you God?’

God responded to Lyn’s agony with a single word. ‘Abide.’ So following her daughter’s example, with the 24/7 support of her church, Lyn kept her eyes fixed on God. Over time, she realised that he understood the suffering she was going through.

‘What I guess I had to do was try and look to the cross. That’s where I see the love of God displayed, and that’s where I saw the grieving father also, losing his son.’

Lyn and Bethany wrote a journal, describing what they learned from the experience. ‘It was really all about what Jesus was teaching Bethany while she was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. And she wanted to share those deep lessons, and how he was with her, and all the things he showed her through that time. I guess she had to grow up very quickly.’

Eventually, Bethany asked her family to stop praying for healing. I really just want to go and be with Jesus,’ Bethany said, ‘and whatever will give him the most glory in my life.’

‘She surrendered her whole life to him, and all her dreams,’ Lyn said. ‘So six years on, she has a testimony that can’t be taken away now.’

‘I think we look back now on that time and we see, if God had healed Bethany miraculously, which we still believe he well could have, our faith would have been strengthened, and a few years on we would have had a story to tell. We don’t know where we’d be in our faith now though.’

Bethany’s legacy hasn’t just been changing the hearts of her parents. Her journal is now a book, which Lyn hopes will help build up the faith of others who are going through traumatic events.

‘Whether it be cancer journeys or relationship breakups, just things that have absolutely turned your world upside-down, to encourage people to go to Jesus, and his word, and to find the hope they need for whatever they’re going through. That’s Bethany’s legacy I think.’

In that final year, one of Bethany’s favourite Bible passages was from the end of Psalm 73. The Psalm concludes ‘I’ve made the sovereign Lord my refuge, and I will tell of all your deeds’. ‘And I guess she’s still telling of his deeds today,’ Lyn said.

Right now, there are people all over the country who are suffering like Bethany and Lyn did. But many of them don’t know God’s eternal purposes for them. This Visionathon, help us bring true hope to every Australian.


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