Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Christian Widow's Testimony of God's Faithfulness

I spent a good portion of my life trying to figure out what life meant and answering why was I here.  I grew-up Catholic during the powerful charismatic Holy Spirit movement that swept through our town in the mid seventies.  I remember wanting to experience God, waiting for something to happen and desperately hoping that Jesus would show himself to me.

Sarah is a widowed mom of three boys, Brad, Timothy, and Jack. She lives in New England and her and her boys enjoy sports. Most importantly, she loves the Lord and wants to encourage widowed wives and moms everywhere to trust in him.
In my mid-twenties, while I tried to be like everyone else, pretending to “just want to have fun” but instead ignoring God & my faith, something very deep in me longed for something more.  I read lots of books & sat with fortunetellers, but my heart still ached to know the truth.

One night, I turned to the back of my Bible where there was a concordance, and I marveled at how often the word “love” was listed.  I scanned down all of the passages, and saw “God is love.”  1 John 4:16.  Turning to it, the words resonated deeply in me as I knew I had found the Truth that I had been searching for so desperately.

One night, as I prayed alone in my bedroom in the house that I was renting with some friends, I wept and asked God if He could bring into my life the man that I was supposed to marry.  Five days later God answered that prayer when I met my future husband Jerry.

Our relationship started slowly but again revolved around simply “having fun”.  Now that meant hanging out watching the Sox, Pats, Celts, Bruins and every imaginable sporting event that was either on TV or we listened to on Sports Radio. While we grew closer, I still needed to know for sure that Jerry was “the one.”

Being impatient with God, I once again sought out fortune tellers, only to be shocked and disappointed after I was told that Jerry “wasn’t the one” and that our “relationship would end in six months.”  Jerry’s Mom had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, so I knew in my heart that if things didn’t go well for her, we wouldn’t make it either.

I was desperate, and called my sister, who told me to put my relationship with Jerry in God’s hands.  I had no idea what she meant but she explained what to do.  So after I hung up the phone, I went upstairs to my room.  It was a cold, rainy, windy winters night and tree branches outside my window were constantly scraping the glass panes.  I got on my knees next to my bed, said the Our Father, told God & Jesus that I loved them both 100%  (because I couldn’t remember the Greatest Commandment to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength and mind,).

I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins, I gave Him my life, my relationship with Jerry and then I asked for a sign from God as to whether or not Jerry was “the one.”  As soon as I finished praying, the wind stopped blowing and it became very still outside for about ten seconds.  I jumped up, called my sister back and she told me to wait and see what happens.

A few weeks later I got my answer, when for the first time, Jerry told me that he thought he was falling in love with me.  This was huge because he never had said that before to me.

As simple as that conversion was, I became a different person.  I shared my prayer with Jerry, not telling him the reasons why I prayed it, and he turned his life over to the Lord in order to try to save his Mom.  A strong desire began to grow in our hearts to want to know God.

We started to go to church, began listening to Christian radio programs, and we even attended a Pre Cana program for engaged couples, before we were even engaged.  Jerry proposed to me a few days after we finished that program.

We began planning a wedding and one night shortly before that date I had an amazing experience with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit told me that I would have four children and one of them would be a daughter named Rebecca Brooks.

Fast forward, we got married, read through the Bible together, bought a house, had a son Brad and then another son Timothy.  We felt so blessed by God’s goodness and our faith grew as we weathered Brad’s colic, Timothy’s terrible intestinal infection, Jerry’s two job lay offs and my gall bladder surgery.  Sadness struck shortly thereafter when I miscarried at ten weeks.  We shared the loss together, but then Jerry was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), a cancer of the blood.  Time stood still, we wept, we held each other and then immediately decided we would fight it.

Fortunately, friends arranged an appointment for us to see a top CLL specialist.  We met him, he hugged us both, and we began to plan out the battle.  Miraculously praise God, Jerry’s only sibling was a perfect match for a stem cell transplant if needed down the road. Jerry started chemotherapy treatment, once a month, for four days, lasting six months.  Jerry fought the good fight and worked through it all in the financial field.  A bone marrow biopsy revealed that the cancer cells were gone and the doctors declared that Jerry was in remission.

We thanked God, traveled with the boys, put an addition on our house, got a yellow lab puppy, and with the doctors permission tried for another baby.  That’s when God gave us Jack.  But on our nine year wedding anniversary, while I was six months pregnant with Jack, the doctors told us the CLL had returned.  Now we knew we had to get to transplant, so in December the doctors started a new set of chemotherapy drugs, but they didn’t work as well as the ones before.

Jerry battled on that whole year, even as he was promoted at work to be a Regional Vice President, at the same time coaching our boys’ little league teams, helping out in cub scouts & in church.  He was truly a machine and we trusted God that He would see us through this storm.

On the boys’ last day of school, Jerry was admitted to the hospital where he would spend the next weeks fighting off numerous infections as he struggled to get to transplant.

During that summer, our house became a full-fledged hotel: babysitting 24/7, meals cooked; house cleaned, laundry washed, our dog walked and literally everything in between.  A circle of love just engulfed our lives as many people reached out to help us including many from our church family.

Our faith remained strong as we tried to get to transplant, but then sadly the doctors took even that away and we were left to tell the boys that Daddy was going home to be with Jesus soon.  Jerry dictated final letters to me for the boys.  I struggled to make sense of it all since the Holy Spirit, several years prior, had told me I would have four children.

Driving home with the boys after visiting Jerry, I remembered that the nurses called Jack my fourth pregnancy due to my earlier miscarriage, suddenly I realized that the name Rebecca Brooks was for that baby.  I told the boys and they were so happy saying that Daddy had to go to heaven to take care of Rebecca.

I couldn’t wait to get back in to the hospital to tell Jerry and when I finally did he smiled. I then hugged & held him, saying it was going to be okay. Soon after that as as I slept peacefully next to him in a cot Jerry passed away in his sleep on what was supposed to be his transplant day.

I was able to share the story about Rebecca with all the staff that morning.  His oncologist hugged me & told me he loved me.  I was also able to share our entire story at several conferences since Jerry’s death.

Although you’re just reading this story now, I wrote it for my baptism at my home church. I was baptized out of a deep sense to want to be obedient to Jesus.  As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.“ Jesus is Brad, Timothy and Jack’s Daddy. His presence has been very real & evident in our lives these past years as so many people continue to bless us and do so much for us.  He’s got my boys.  Jesus is my husband.  He is all that I have, all that I need; Jesus is my Lord & Savior.  I am so very grateful & thankful that He shed His blood for me.  May all the Glory be God’s and His alone.

Thank you, Sarah
Picture By: B Rosen

Need more Biblical insight into being a widow? Check out The Undistracted Widow: Living for God after Losing Your Husband (aff link). 

2 comments:

  1. THANK YOU! THANK YOU for sharing your story. I was greatly touched and encouraged by you. May our Lord minister to many through your testimony as well as through you and your boys.

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  2. The widow and her boys are coming to our wedding if you'd like to meet her.

    ReplyDelete