February 17, 2011

Count it all Joy

I've often wondered over the last several years what it would be like to face tragedy.

Nancy and I have had a very blessed life. Nancy and I have an amazing marriage. We have three amazing children. We have a home, a cat, a dog, and a couple of fish. Of course, cars break down, lawnmowers have problems, and we have to pay bills. But overall, God has blessed us with a pretty amazing life.

I've heard preachers say things like: "If you haven't suffered, you will," and "God uses suffering in our lives to make us more like Him." Having never 'suffered' I began to wonder, should I pray for suffering? Should I ask God to 'bring it on' so that He can grow me in a deeper way? I realize this may sound sadistic to you. And the one time I asked the question out loud I was immediately dismissed. (I never prayed for that suffering, by the way).

But I did pray to be used by God in a big way. Of course, to me, being used by God looks more like preaching to a stadium full of people than sitting in a hospital room watching my son recover from a brain injury.

Nancy and I had lunch together yesterday - at a real restaurant, away from the hospital. We were talking about how we are handling our circumstance, and how sometimes people look at us and don't seem to understand how we can be doing so well in the midst of this. I told Nancy: "I know this is hard. It's not something I would ever want, or volunteer for. But I in the scheme of things, it's not really that bad." I know that sounds crazy. Here's what I mean. I still have a house. We have cars. We have two other wonderful and healthy children. We both have our health. It could be worse...a lot worse. There are people all around the world with a lot worse problems than ours.

At the same time, God is using this little tragedy to expand His kingdom in a magnificent way. People are praying, some for the first time, some more than ever. Teenagers are getting serious about Bible reading. Southbrook Church has come together in a way that only God could orchestrate.

Nancy and I are humbled that God would choose to use our son to accomplish such great things for His kingdom. I pray that we will continue to 'suffer well.' I know God isn't finished yet - there is still a lot ahead on this journey to recovery.

James 1:2 says "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." We certainly have had our faith tested. And the testing will certainly continue for quite some time. I pray that the steadfastness that is produced will continue to carry us through.

As you pray for Garren today, pray for his brain stem and the surrounding mid-brain to continue to heal and restore. Pray that we will see yet another baby step today.

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

You may be preaching from a hospital room, but trust that you are indeed preaching to stadiums all over the world...and we're listening. We hear you, we're connected, and we're not letting go. Pastor Greg preached on worship this past Sunday and spoke of Romans 12. You wrote of the complexity of the brain and the human body in your blog, and when reading Romans 12 again last night, I couldn't help but think how much verses 3-8 make perfect sense at this moment. It is you and Nancy, it is Garren, and it is all of Southbrook and all of those all over the world who come together as one body, each with a special gift and something to contribute.

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you; Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same functions, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."

We're praying for a great day with more baby steps toward complete restoration. In for the long haul, In His love, The Sisk Family

Bob and Barb said...

Thanks for walking through your suffering with such transparency and grace that encourages the body of Christ. I love how you in every post you point us to Christ. I know this isn't a chapter you would have wanted written for your lives, but you continue to trust the Author and reflect Him beautifully. So we keep on praying for you and Nancy, for unity, tenderness, strength, joy, perseverance. We pray for Kara and Kelsey as their worlds have been tossed around. And we pray for Garren....that the One who knit him together in his mother's womb will now knit together the cells in his brain and make him whole. For.the.Glory.of.God!
We will continue to run alongside you, praying and cheering the successes God gives you and Garren.
We love you guys!

Anonymous said...

praying for brain stem healing..praying for more steps....praying for you all...praying for Garren...praying, praying, praying...and our God never sleeps, always hears, always cares, always loves, always wants the very best for all of us...always...love, Sandy & Russ

Townsend said...

hello, i am the niece (in law) of bob and barb seavey. I have been praying for you garren and your family. this post moves me to tears...INCREDIBLE display of faith and peace in the arms of Jesus. Thank you for sharing your journey and encouraging ME today.

Anonymous said...

Geoffrey, Of course we will continue to pray for Garren. We will continue to pray that he is healed completely, here on earth. It is our privilege. I also want to say that you and Nancy are preaching louder and to more people now, than you could ever reach in any stadium setting. You are impacting so many because of how you are an example of the living WORD of GOD. Your actions, words and calm spirit are showing so many others how to live a life filled with the HOLY SPIRIT. We have all read how the LORD will use difficulty in our lives to develop character; you and Nancy are now developing the character of so many others by how you are living. I pray that the LORD will give you strength, wisdom and discernment.
In HIS Service,
The Cianciosa's

Anonymous said...

I keep thinking about one of the verses that you had on Garren's hospital room wall...that Garren was knit together by God in Nancy's womb. And I keep wondering...why? Why would God choose to give Garren an AVM? But I keep coming back to the thought that God is God (and I am not), and His plans are perfect. When you talk of how He is using this situation, we start to see a glimmer. Now, as someone who loves Garren, I pray for his recovery. But I realize that God is in control there, too. And so we can be at peace as we wait...
- Paulette

Anonymous said...

I also have had the questions about suffering. God has blessed me so much and I haven’t had to go through the suffering that so many of my friends and even my wife have had to go though. Thank you so much of for sharing this part of your life with us it has given me a chance to learn how to praise God even in suffering. Krystal and I are praying for you and your family.

Brian Edwards

Anonymous said...

as I read your blog today I had to laugh at myself...each year my husband ad I would come up with a "saying" for the year!! wel...in 2006 we said..."bring it on !!!" of course we were thinking blessings, bonuses,great health, all the good stuff...then May 1, 2006 I was hit by that 18 wheeler!!! It was a tough for year for us, but we did grow closer to the Lord in that one year than ever before!! I am amazed at your faith and strength!!I totally "get" your blog today.
So thankful for all the steps Garren is taking!! We are still praying each day!!
<>< t

Dee Langley said...

Hi Geoffrey & Nancy!
I remember thinking about the same thing. We have been very blessed. We have had some scares but we are blessed beyond measure. Then came the day Alexandra died. Was I prepared? Well in a way yes. I sat on a dock thanking the Lord for allowing me to be Alexandra's Mommy. Was I prepared? In a way no. Did I know that God had built me to withstand this kind of pain? No but I have always known and do know that God has a plan. He has ordered our steps and if this is the path laid out before me. My desire is to bring God all the glory I can. Your life, Nancy's life, Kara's life, Garren's life, and even Kelsey's life are daily examples of God's glory. His love, light, faithfulness, & endurance all shine through you. I hit my knees daily for Garren. The tears come very easily. I have prayed for God to hold you. Almost begging him to not allow you to go through what we have been through. While I know that death is a wonderful glorious event. The pain for those of us left behind is almost unbearable. I know that my prayers won't stop people from dying. But if I can petition on your behalf to the Lord to prevent you from feeling this pain I will & have. Just as you have said in your previous blogs. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy but Lord I will walk through it with your help and give all the glory to you as I can do nothing without you!
We love you Janes family! God is using you! He is speaking through you! You are being carried.

wendy said...

Amen! God Bless you guys!

Anonymous said...

Geoffrey and Nancy, thank you for sharing, so fluently, from your hearts regarding "suffering". May I echo what "Anonymous" said about the fact that you are indeed preaching to everyone, all over the world who are aware of this trial--for it isn't just words, but truth in action.

On a personal note, I hope you are saving copies of your blog, for years from now, in the face of lesser trials, perhaps what God is doing now will strengthen your hearts again when need be---some "rocks of remembrance" regarding His power. As for me, we are expecting great things from God--and look forward to Garren running and tackling once more.

A Friend

Anonymous said...

The other day we came home from church and our eldest daughter Kayla (who is 6 years old) went to us right before we were going to pray for lunch and she said "Mommy I want to pray for Garren and his healing for his head, the lord needs to be with him", I started to cry because it touch my heart in many ways. We are praying for Garren and his healing!

Love to you,
Alicia and Scott Cooper

Rob Singleton said...

It was great hearing your heart this morning! I'm proud of you, brother! I know we have a good teacher in you, but now God is developing you into a great one!

I agree, this has brought an amazing unity and sense of family to Southbrook--the church that prays together--stays together!

Know the prayers never cease!

I'll check back in with you all later tonight!


Jamie Mowery said...

There's within my heart a melody, Jesus whispers sweet and low...Fear not, I am with thee, peace,be still...in all of life's ebb and flow. I sing this to myself when I am troubled...sometimes I sing it out loud! REAL loud! It reminds me that He is always with me! I pray for Garren, for signs, for healing. I pray for you and Nancy and the children.And I sing this song...real loud!

Anonymous said...

As I read your updates and thoughts I can't help but see the Bible coming alive in your words. I am glad that you two were able to have dinner together and have a conversation about how this event has brought you to understand more of God's will for your lives. We continue to pray for the baby steps that will ultimately lead to recovery. I am praying Kara and Kelsey also. I believe they are seeing you live the faith that you have taught them. That you again for our daily lesson in faith.

Mike Harvey said...

Awesome post, you and Nancy are an inspiration to so many! I'm so thankful that I kicked the tires in the parking lot at SB Weddington 3 years ago! You performed a service for a friend of mine who lost her child. I was inspired by you then and continue to be inspired by you even more today! I thank God for preparing your heart each day to share what is inside you! We pray for continued healing and progress! We love you all! The Harvey

Shelly Ruggiero said...

Geoffrey & Nancy,
You both continue to be such an inspiration to so many. The strength and peace that you have can only come from God and it is speaking volumes to people. Almost everywhere I go someone asks about your family, about Garren. I hear people at the grocery store. I hear of other churches praying with us. To see Southbrook and so many others be "the Body" and come together is so wonderful. It is a true picture of what the church should look like. We love your family and I want you to know that I am still constantly praying for you and for Garren's healing and thanking and praising our Lord for complete restoration of Garren's brain. God has layed your family and especially Garren on my heart so heavy and I will continue to pray, believing with you.

Anonymous said...

You are truly an inspiration to all. It is an amazing testament to our Lord that you continue to Praise Him In This Storm. You have all been chosen as His warriors, as my children and I have for other reasons, to help draw others near. You are amazing. I pray for you and your family. Thank you!!!! May you be blessed in everyday possible. With love! The Andersons

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your updates Garren. Our sons, Sam and Jack are friends of his. They have also played football together. My husband, Howard had quadruple bypass surgery on Monday. It is amazing to read your post today because I agree that God is using our suffering for good! He is strengthening our marriage, family and other relationships as well! I get on my knees to and pray but it is different when you are knocked to your knees to pray! Garren and you all are in my prayers daily! Thank you for your strength. I along with so many other people are walking this journey with you!

Anonymous said...

Geoffrey and Nancy, Kara and Kelsey, As we read your blog today as well as all the others we are struck in awe by how God is using this tragedy to bring about His good on so many levels. I once went to a Women of Faith conference and one of the speakers commented on how being on that stage had come with a cost for all of them. Well, you are on stage and it has come with a cost as well. It is amazing how as painful as this is Gods blessings will outweigh the cost. That is not easy to say or understand but is true because it is a promise from Him. As we have read the comments to this posting you want to say amen. We love you guys and we are so blessed to be a part of the ministry of Southbrook Church. We continue to lift you all up in prayer. What a privilege to carry our friend Garron and you all to the feet of Jesus. We continue to pray for and expect complete healing. We love you all, cecil and karen

Anonymous said...

Sweet Janes family...I have been following Garren's progress through a friend's posts on facebook. He has been on my heart and I will continue to lift him up to our Master Physician. My young husband had a brain tumor removed about a month ago. As the Lord has brought us through somewhat similar journeys, I feel like I could have written this post myself. To be God's tool to bring the lost to Himself is an awesome and amazing blessing. Isn't that what we all really desire? To look back on all He has done through this situation will be so precious and humbling...as we are now beginning to see. God is so faithful. Will continue to pray

Anonymous said...

im really glad garrens doing better , but i know its a sloooow prosess. but i just wanted to say i am sorry i didnt get to come visit on garrens birthday like i had planned , i got really sick with we think what was bronkitis on wensday and i thought i was feeling better sat but my aunt whos a nurse didnt want me going anywhere so i had to stay home. i know this is a little late comment but i am just lettin yall know im prayin for garren and all of yall still.
Christi Mayhew~

Anonymous said...

im really glad garrens doing better , but i know its a sloooow prosess. but i just wanted to say i am sorry i didnt get to come visit on garrens birthday like i had planned , i got really sick with we think what was bronkitis on wensday and i thought i was feeling better sat but my aunt whos a nurse didnt want me going anywhere so i had to stay home. i know this is a little late comment but i am just lettin yall know im prayin for garren and all of yall still.
Christi Mayhew~

Michael Romano said...

We continue to pray for Garren and truly am amazed at how strong you and Nancy have been. You both are a steady rock that we can all turn to if and when any of us has a hardship in life. So proud of you both!!!

Kristi said...

Thinking of you all!


Anonymous said...

Prayed it was a good day for Garren and each of you...hoping you saw more baby steps toward recovery. Will check for a new update in the morning. I'm praying that if you haven't posted an update, it's only because you're all resting peacefully. In for the long haul, In His love, The Sisk Family

Kitty @ Four Little Toms and a Mom said...

If you knew what impact your family had on one of my boys tonight... he had been saying all week he was missing his dad. It happens each year with the early spring... grief has a way of recurring with seasonal changes - the memories come through the soft early breezes of Spring. This boy has prayed each day over and over for your family. And he has watched your blogs. He's made the connections of considering it all joy-- watching how joyous all of you are through the suffering and making that connection, considering all the joy he experienced with his fabulous dad, knowing that early Spring always brings the memories of joyous moments with Dad, isn't he fortunate to have had those joyous moments, isn't he fortunate to have seen the pattern of noticing the Spring, missing his father, then continuing into the Spring with even newer blessings and joy created by his Heavenly Father to add to the blessings already experienced with Dad. Consider it all joy. Thank you for staying obediently joyful to the Lord in this time of suffering Geoffrey and Nancy.

Anonymous said...

We are constantly praying for Garren and the entire family. Your strength and unwavering faith are an inspiration to everyone. Garren is a special young man who has captured the heart of a community. We hope that you will both continue to take care of yourselves. I am sure that is very hard to do but it is so important. Southbrook is here for all of you. God Bless - Sherry & Steve Showalter

Anonymous said...

People have always told me that God does things for a reason. Sometimes you don't always realize it, but this is a time where you do see it. Everyone is coming together to pray for Garren in his time of need, and all the devotionals are helping people come closer to God and helping them understand his word better. I believe that in the end everything is going to work out great. We are all praying for Garren and hoping that he gets better soon.

-Elissa Webb