As I (Chris) reflect on the past year there is so much that comes to mind in the way of what God has revealed to Cindy & I about our lives: who we are, how we need Christ & what needs to change. The Holy Spirit has revealed everything from idolatry of ministry, to deep rooted apathy & gross unbelief. But of all the different gems I could share with you that we are learning together, there’s one that stands out above the rest to me. And that is the generally impoverished way I now know I used to live before all of this happened and the rich way that God has begun to work in me to change that.
It humbles me, for instance, to think of the different ways I failed to appreciate my wife for who she is apart from my broken ideal of her before she was diagnosed with lymphoma, to see the profound contribution she has made to our life & our family in spite of me. In short it took the threat of losing her to see what a treasure she really is. But it also took the profoundly difficult & blessed responsibility of raising our 3 children nearly completely without her, to see how precious & unique they each are and how much they (and I) really need her. It took an ongoing series of practical needs to see the value of the body of Christ. And it took being nearly completely alone for almost a whole year to recognize the value of fellowship & friendship. In short it took the physical cancer in Cindy to finally expose the spiritual cancer in me: that greater disease of selfishness and the need for repentance of it.
Only where Cindy’s was eating away at her body mine had begun to eat away at the very fabric of our family, (at least) my faith in God, our marriage & sadly every other relationship I had taken for granted. Where hers had forced her to reckon with her mortality, mine had force me to face a life without her. Where hers had forced her to rest and receive the aid of others, mine had forced me to step up and serve in ways I didn’t know I hadn’t before. And in the superior gracious wisdom of God this worked on my behalf to change and grow who I am.
As I look back on the past year I am not only humbled by the generous natural way that God chose to work in our life through the gracious gifts of other people. I am also humbled by the way He chose to work through the very suffering itself. That’s right I said it. I am not only grateful for the blessings IN the suffering. I am also grateful for the suffering itself and all the difficulty it brought us. Every conflict, every difficulty, every fearful painful moment that we experienced together this past year has only served to deepen us more, mature us & bless us, enrich our understanding of the gospel & deepen our love for one another. It has also served to cultivate & enrich a truly meaningful & necessary dependence on the Living God as individuals & a couple. And as I said before this has worked (at least for me) to change the very fabric of who I am, for the better.
So while I look back on who I was with a growing sense of regret. I also look back with an equally growing sense of awe for the miraculous way that God has chosen to work on my behalf (and my family’s) to not only change my poor behavior but also change who I am, how I think, how I see other people and serve them in practical ways. And for that as I said I am very thankful. If I can offer any general encouragement to you from my own experience this past year it’s this: maybe instead of asking God to help you escape from whatever trial you might find yourself in, ask Him to give you a deeper revelation of the gospel in it and change you through it. Because I personally think He waits for us to do that anyways so He can really get to work in us and bless us (and others) in ways we’ve never dreamed of, in ways that transcend the boundaries of this world.
Some Different Ways You Can Pray for Us:
– The numbness Cindy’s feet to go away.
– For Cindy as she deals with post chemo fatigue. (It can last from 1-3 years and is worse then chemo tired. Pray for strength and energy for normal everyday tasks.)
– For Noah’s meltdowns and different delays. (His test results are that he is NOT currently on the ASD spectrum yet but his behavior shows signs of being on the spectrum later on. They will reevaluate him in six months to see if there’s progress. His adjustment issues to normal family activities puts more strain on our family. Pray for God’s wisdom to know how to balance his needs and without jeopardizing everyone’s needs as well.
– Please pray for our family in general as we continue to find a new normal. So far readjustment has been very difficult.
Thank you again to each of you for your fellowship, prayer and support. You are the love of God to us and we cherish each and everyone of you.
Lord bless you.
– The Broniste Family