[Connie] You just think it's a minor hiccup and you go on. But, it didn't get better.
[Tim] It was like a whirlwind. It was just… it was almost like that part in my life is almost blacked out in a way.
[Steve] At times life brings great challenges. Where is God when pain and suffering occur?
[Connie] Just the word "cancer" scares you to death.
[Tim] He was just screaming it over the phone. It was, it was… I'll never forget.
[Steve] On this special edition of Beyond Today , we'll look at the distress and heartbreak life can bring through the eyes of two people who have dealt with real-life tragedy to help you answer the question, "Why Me, God?"
[Announcer] Join our host, Steve Myers and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Steve] When you're faced with the pain of what seems hopeless--whether it's sickness, betrayal, distress, or even loneliness. Have you ever asked: Why me, God?
To help answer that question, let's examine it through the eyes of two people. First, let's listen to Tim's story.
[Tim] I always wanted to be a cowboy. I worked at one of the biggest ranches in Arizona--Babbit's Ranch-- just right out of high school, I worked there.
[Steve] Now is that where you grew up then and eventually met your wife?
[Tim] Yes it is, fact is my wife was born in Flagstaff. I met Debby from hanging around friends that knew her that lived in the area. But I never could get the nerve up to call her--Debby. I just felt like it was... she'd turn me down. So I kept thinking about it. It took me a whole afternoon to make that phone call. I just finally did. I finally got the courage up to give her a call, and she was real quick on the answer. And she, she told me yes!
[Steve] From there, did you date for quite awhile? How did things develop?
[Tim] Within a year we got married. I was working construction at that time. We didn't have much of a honeymoon so to speak. We ended up going to Las Vegas--that's where we got married. Spent the three days up there and then ended up just coming back, going to work, and bought us a trailer. We bought some property off of her father--my father-in-law.
There was a lot of trials in our early years. I remember, we would just take enough home to buy groceries. Basically it was just so hard at that time starting a new business.
[Steve] Something was on the horizon that would make those trials pale by comparison and change everything. We'll come back to Tim in a moment.
[Steve] I also interviewed Connie telling her story:
[Connie] I went to four high schools in four years. But, I was so used to moving that it wasn't a big deal to me. I was just always the new kid, and you know, I'm not shy. So…
[Steve] You couldn't afford to be.
[Connie] No. So I'd just go up to people and say, "Hey, I'm the new kid." And so, we moved around a lot. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to go to college, just because we were so poor, but, I did get to go.
[Steve] And then you met someone, that kind of changed things.
[Connie] I did. We worked together actually, in the kitchen at the college. And so then we got to know each other better, and when I graduated college--ten days later, after graduation--we got married.
We just had fun together. We wanted to conquer the world together. And, we wanted a big family. He had four brothers and two sisters. We had kind of planned on that.
[Steve] There were detours ahead on that road for the newlyweds. Soon their vision began to turn like into a dream gone bad.
[Connie] And so we went to the doctor, and he was diagnosed with failing kidneys. And they said he'd be on dialysis within the month. And he was. So it, it did rock our world. You think of dialysis and you don't even know what that means.
And so, we were struggling. Struggling to just keep afloat. We were down to our last scraps of food. We were, maxing out our credit cards. It was just a tough time, and a knock came at our door.
So, they just came and delivered this big box of food. Which wasn't a big deal to them, but it was huge for us. It fed two people for a long time, and I mean, I just broke down and cried. But it was the love there of that support, and seeing the little details that God worked out along the way, that helped us through the big, big problem, or the big trial.
[Steve] It wasn't long before the dialysis was just not enough. Connie's husband, Jim, desperately needed a kidney transplant. Thankfully, his brother stepped up and donated a kidney. There were complications, an extended hospital stay, but finally a bit of normalcy returned.
[Connie] And so then, we're back on track, kind of, of what our goals were in life. Okay, he's got a full time job. I quit within that year and started working from home so that we could try to have a family, and figure that out. And away we went.
Then, because his immune system was suppressed, a few years later, he started getting sick. His health had been compromised enough that we weren't able to have a family together. So, we went the adoption route.
In fact, we had a possibility, and it was exciting. I remember going through the house just, I mean, practically skipping. I was like, oh okay.
[Steve] But the exciting possibility of bringing home a little baby was suddenly crushed by the news.
[Connie] We were about to talk to the family, and Jim was sick. And we couldn't meet with them. And, we went to the hospital instead.
And the doctor that happened to be on staff at that local hospital hadn't seen him before. And he just looked at him and said, "Oh, I think there's something more going on here."
He was diagnosed that next day with lymphoma. Lymphoma is a cancer. So it was throughout his body in the lymph system, and it was an aggressive cancer. Just the word "cancer" scares you to death.
[Steve] Jim's anti-rejection medication caused the aggressive cancer that evaporated their dreams of an adoption and turned into a fight for his very life.
[Connie] The doctors took me aside--this would be for the third time--but they almost emphatically said, "He is in the dying process."
Two months of a rollercoaster, emotional rollercoaster, that I can't really explain how it felt like a lifetime in certain ways. But it was two months, almost to the day.
You can't change it. You're in this situation, you have to do whatever you can to, to deal with it. The whole time we, we knew God was there. We were relying on Him. We were beseeching Him. We were having everybody that we knew pray for my husband.
Just because you're going through something and you know God is there, doesn't mean it isn't hard.
[Steve] It was a very hard thing for Connie to face--the death of her husband. Even though she felt God was there, should you avoid the inevitable question--why?
[Connie] You're not human if you don't ask that one; I don't think. But you can't stay there. I don't know why. I really don't. But, in the long run, I can't, I can't dwell in there, or I can't stay there because I'm not going to get the answer, now, especially. So, I have got to take what I've learned from that and go forward, and try to learn the lessons that I'm supposed to learn.
[Steve] Learning lessons and moving forward amid tragedy was a difficult step that Connie had to take.
Now Tim tells more of his own account. His construction company finally began to prosper. His wife, Debby did the accounting. Tim worked overtime. Finally they were able to pay themselves from the business and go after that dream of living in the country on their very own ranch.
[Tim] We started looking for property. We looked over a year. We went up to Montana, Colorado. We ended up finally purchasing a ranch in New Mexico.
[Steve] With a ranch in New Mexico and a construction business in Flagstaff, that's not like five miles apart.
[Tim] No. Fact is, it was 500 miles apart and it would take eight to ten hours to drive depending on traffic.
Success and their choices began to take a toll on their lives. Tim had to split his time every week, between the ranch and the construction company. That brought problems because it separated him from Debby for the very first time in their marriage.
[Tim] Debby didn't like it at all. She didn't like being away from me. She just kept… She'd tell me, she's say, I just want to be with you. I just want to be wherever you are. So that was a big change in our life.
I could see where that was becoming a hardship for us. It was really becoming hectic. And we were getting busier and busier, and that was becoming more of a, a hassle. So, we were trying to sell the construction company.
[Steve] So, among all of that activity between the two places with the ranch and the construction company, a day came that totally changed everything. Can you tell me about that?
[Tim] That was a time in my life I won't forget. It's basically… I had just got back to Flagstaff. I had left the ranch, and I left it at a Sunday night, probably around nine that night. Drove all night long, and just didn't even get no sleep, went right to work. And we had some busy schedules that following Monday. Well, we ended up getting done mid-late afternoon, somewhere in there. So I went right home. We still had our house in Flagstaff. Went there, and I just remember going up in the game room and crashing on the floor. And, just sound asleep.
Then I remember hearing a phone…the phone. So I, it was in, in my, you could just kind of hear it as you're sleeping. So, I didn't pick it up. I just, it was almost like it was a dream.
And then it kept ringing, and kept ringing, and then I realized that it was the phone. So I answer the phone, and it's my youngest son. And he says, "Where have you been?" And, I said, "I was sleeping." He said, "Debby's dead. My, my mom is dead."
And I said, "What?" I thought maybe I was still dreaming. I thought I was sleeping. I couldn't believe what he was telling me. And he was just screaming it over the phone. It was… I'll never forget.
[Steve] It's hard enough to deal with the death of a loved one, yet how much more with such untimely death? We'll come back to Tim's heartrending story in just a moment. We left Connie, finding hope in dealing with the tragic death of her husband, Jim.
[Connie] And they just surrounded me with love. You know, people really just took care of me. For, and that's what I needed, for a while. You know, I wasn't the strong person all the time. I needed help. I needed support. I needed encouragement. And I had those people. God put those people in my life to help me along the way.
[Steve] As time passed, healing continued in Connie's life. As her pastor, I watched as new possibilities came her way.
[Connie] Not only were you my pastor and his wife, but also friends; just because of the trial, and you know. You guys helped me through a lot. And, you guys knew someone, that, I guess you thought we would click--and we did. When I met Mark, he was a grain farmer in Michigan, had two teenage kids that he was trying to make sure he raised.
After a couple visits, and a lot of talking back and forth, I moved to Michigan. And we got married January of 2005. Cold…
[Steve] On a very cold day as I recall.
[Connie] Yes, very cold in Minnesota. You know, we, we were a great team together. He was a, he was a leader in his congregation for the teens. He was a go-getter and I just joined right in. It was great.
[Steve] As time went on, a shock came out of nowhere.
[Connie] Yeah. In the spring, planting season, he was having a hard time. He was not feeling well. And by June of 2007 he was diagnosed with colon cancer.
It was one of those things where you ask: why, again?
In this situation, I just thought that it wouldn't, it wouldn't end like it did with Jim. I didn't think… I knew it was serious I just didn't… So we went through the, the battle together.
It was a two-year battle. It was really all of '07 and almost all of '08. So it was a lot longer battle, but there was a time in there he was declared cancer free. You know, and you think, okay we've won. With God's help, we've won. But, that's not the way it ended or, went. But, I dunno.
[Steve] How do you trust God, when you really don't understand what He is doing?
[Connie] We trust God in the good things. We've got to accept God's direction in our life no matter what is happening in our lives. You know, it's not all going to be rosy. But, again, if you look at the little things, God is in the details. God is there with you. It's just that sometimes the answer isn't what you want.
[Steve] So you were able to look at those things and see the positive side without letting the negative side drag you down.
[Steve] How were you able to do that?
[Connie] I don't know. By the power and grace of God. I would have never said I could handle a death of a spouse, or go through this trial of cancer. Yet, you take it little by little and you get through it.
[Steve] Mark's death was a harsh blow, but Connie's approach was to take life little by little. Day by day it was by God's grace and power seeing her through. As we shift back to Tim's story, his son just broke the shocking news of Debby's death.
[Tim] There was a person that had been on drugs. He was distraught. He was just, really out of it. Basically, he was going real fast on the dirt roads out there, wrecked his truck, and our place happened to be the closest. So he walked up to the, to our house.
My wife was in the house sitting in a lounge chair. He had his rifle. He walked in and shot her--killed her right there instantly.
And, just kind of ransacked--took some food, took my son's pickup. Went over to the neighbor's house. She came walking out to see if he needed some help, because everybody's real friendly around there. And he shot her 'fore she even got close to the, to the truck, to my son's truck, and then drove off.
Probably the hardest phone call I had to make was telling her folks that Debby was dead. They had already lost two children before that. Just to hear the voices in the background, that they'd lost another daughter, basically--their only other daughter--was just so hard for me to tell them that.
[Steve] What did you do with two young boys? How did you begin to deal with that?
[Tim] It was just such a drastic change. It was just… it was like a whirlwind. It was just, it was almost like that part in my life is almost blacked out in a way. I don't know if you try to put that out of your mind or what. But my everyday life after that was just, it was just one day at a time.
[Steve] So then with Debby's murder, did that change your relationship with God?
[Tim] That really changed my relationship with God. I knew all along that I hadn't been doing right. I never was much of a religious person, but I just would never make that commitment to really follow God like I knew I should.
I thought God used this as a way to get my attention. To say, "Hey, you need to get a grip here. You need to come and start realizing the things that you need to change in your life." And I'm not saying that He didn't love Debby. I know He loved Debby. And I'm not saying that He planned this whole thing. He, I don't believe that either. I'm just saying He let the circumstances play out. I mean I knew that He would be there for me, if I just put, came to Him.
I knew everything that I had read, everything in God's, God's Word was true. I used that lesson as a way to come closer to God.
[Steve] Do you think there were steps along the way that helped you heal and get beyond Debby's death?
[Tim] One thing that really helped me was when I decided to make my commitment to God and start, following His way. Being around brethren, that… like-minded brethren that followed God, that kept His Commandments, His Sabbath, His Holy Days, knew God's plan. That was a big help.
I realized some of the hardships that I went through afterwards, laying on my bed and crying, and wondering, "What am I going to do?" You know, "How am I going to make this all come together?" But then I sat there and think back on that, how it did come together. So I know God didn't give me more than I could handle. He worked things out for me. Things did work out. He was there for me. He never did leave me. So that was a huge comfort.
[Steve] With revenge on the community's mind, the murderer was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the two precious lives that he took. Tim's trust in God prevented feelings of retaliation and helped him deal with thoughts of anger and bitterness. He told me what he learned.
[Tim] And I told myself, don't get angry because you can get bitter. I could see where that would really take you down the wrong path if I did that. That was a big factor to where I could overcome a lot of these things and just having faith in God, and His plans.
[Steve] It does take faith to trust God, even when you can't explain your struggles. At times, life seems to provoke us to ask: Why me, God?
But there is hope. We'd like to help you find that reassurance, like Tim did. It's possible to be comforted and discover encouragement in your very own Bible. That's why we've prepared a special study aid for you called, Why Am I Suffering?
This valuable, free study guide will help you deal with the struggles and challenges of your life. Why Am I Suffering? will explain that despite life's worries, you can find God's support to set your mind at rest and be restored like Connie.
We have never offered this booklet on Beyond Today before. But please note, we only have a limited number of copies available in print, and once those are exhausted Why Am I Suffering? will only be available as an electronic download . You need to have this guide to deeper study and understanding of why we have to deal with pain in our lives.
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Connie found that even when there was pain and suffering, God was helping her to deal with the death of two husbands within six years. She takes heart in remembering what was important to Mark.
[Connie] What was the most important thing to him was, again, relationships. His relationship with God and his relationship with his family. He also had that deep faith and that he relied on God.
And that's what he tried to convey to the young teens that he knew well and mentored. Look, God is in charge and this answer could be something I don't want, but don't lose faith.
In my experiences with what I've gone through, when I was in the low spots, it's because I was focusing on myself or I wasn't looking at the, at what God has done. You know, you have to refocus your mind some, and you have to look at the big picture. God is there. It's just that you have to see that.
[Steve] God helped Connie to look outward to His overall perspective of life. And her story doesn't end there. Within a few years, a dear minister and his wife gave her a suggestion.
They had a friend in one of their church areas that they thought would be a great husband. And I was like, fine, give him my information. You know, you never know what's going to happen or not. And then, when we got to talking, there were so many things that we did have in common.
[Steve] So to make a long story short, you're married!
[Connie] I am. I am. God has taken care of me.
[Steve] So what qualities do you love most about your husband?
[Connie] Being willing to be directed by God. He's very kind, very serving, likes to get out there and do things. He enjoys helping people out, and working on projects. And so, we have a lot of fun together.
[Steve] It is fun when you see God's powerful hand working in people's lives.
[Tim] When I look back, after all this happened, it basically seems like God was directing my path and guiding me in other ways.
Our minister just said that there's this young lady that you may want to contact. I thought, that seems interesting. So, after a few months of just talking over the phone, seeing how much we had in common, we were really wanting to meet each other. It was exciting when we did finally get to meet.
[Steve] Then somewhere along the line you were courageous enough to pop the question.
[Tim] It was time. We knew that's what we wanted to do. And I knew it especially. I was, really loved this lady. I wanted to get married, so it wasn't hard to do. I was, I asked her if she would marry me.
[Steve] So now that some time has passed, married, years have gone by, what is it that you love most about her?
[Tim] Well, the first thing comes to mind is her tacos, but I don't really think that would be appropriate at this point. What I really love about my wife is how caring she is. She handles every little situation without ever getting upset. She just seems to have a zeal for, just, to make things work out. She can continually looks for the good in everything and everybody. She helps lift me up that way. It's almost like God found somebody, okay you need somebody like this in your life.
[Steve] So who would have guessed that the two of you would end up together?
[Connie] That's right, who would have guessed? But, God has a plan.
[Steve] So did anyone ever warn you, are you sure you want to get married again?
[Tim] My family, you know, once they heard Connie's story of losing two mates. Whoa, she sounds like a black widow--be careful!
[Connie] But you've got to have humor in this. We'd probably be lying if we didn't think about that just a little bit. But, again, we have to have faith in God. God has directed us this far, He will direct us in the rest. We're enjoying life and, you know, we're taking what God has given us and going forward.
[Steve] The future is ahead. What are you hoping for?
[Tim] You know, we've never really talked about long term plans. We kind of…
[Steve] That is understandable knowing your experiences.
[Tim] We take one day at a time. We enjoy each day as they come around. We enjoy where we are living, and we just really love our life together.
[Connie] We do. We both have a faith in God, and a faith that God means what He says. He has a plan. He has a Kingdom.
[Tim] I look towards that. That's a big comforting for me, it's knowing that one day I will see my wife again. That that is part of God's plan in the resurrections, so I look towards that time when that will occur. We want to look towards God's plan and His future for us, and that's my hope :
[Connie] And God's in charge and if you fully trust Him, and really believe what He says, it will be okay.
[Tim] We've got to believe that God does have a plan for us, and when we do that, that just makes things a lot more easier in our lives. We can take things a lot better.
[Connie] Let God lead on.
[Steve] Tim and Connie found hope in remembering God's promises. You too, can find comfort, even when trouble and suffering mar your life.
They realized that it's true. God consoles us as we endure the pain and hardship of life so that we may draw from His comfort and share it with others in their own struggles (1 Corinthians 1:3-4).
They looked for God in the details. He didn't desert them. They were encouraged as they read the biblical examples of other real people that faced and endured severe trials.
They trusted God to bring them through day by day. They didn't let anger and bitterness take hold. They asked God for help and He provided the support and strength for them to endure and to come through the challenges. God will strengthen you, too.
Whatever you're going through, don't lose sight of the big picture. No ordeal can ever separate you from the love of God. Remember that God understands. He loves you. Don't forget His promise: "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).
Here at Beyond Today, we are happy to acquaint you with our free magazine, The Good News .
The Good News gives insight into your world through the eyes of the Bible. Order your free subscription to The Good News and also get your free copy of Why Am I Suffering? Call toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That's, 1-888-886-8632.
Be sure and visit us on the Web at BeyondToday.tv where you can read, download or order your free copy of The Good News magazine and today's special offer of our free Bible study aid, Why Am I Suffering?
Thanks for joining us. Tune in again next week for another edition of Beyond Today and join us in praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today I'm Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.
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