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Pain, suffering and God’s plan in wife’s illness


My family left church early on a recent Sunday morning.
After the Lord’s Supper, we just got up and walked out.
It wasn’t that we were hoping to avoid the sermon. Our friend Randy Roper, who was preaching that day, always blesses us with his practical, biblical messages.
Nor was it that we needed to be somewhere more important. Seriously, where would that be?
Rather, my wife, Tamie, was hurting. She had a little, plastic bag of ice pressed against her left wrist, and I could tell how uncomfortable she was.
“Do you want to go?” I asked.
She nodded.
Our family has experienced an interesting — for lack of a better description — year and a half as Tamie has dealt with anemia, fatigue, swelling, inflammation and joint problems related to rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome and lupus.
The medical professionals have tried a number of pills and shots — and now infusions — to get Tamie’s illness into remission and control the pain and inflammations so that there’s no permanent damage to joints and organs. (I’m not a doctor, but that’s my rudimentary understanding.)
Unfortunately, we’re not there yet.
We’re still praying, still hoping for the best and still putting our faith in God.
We’re so blessed with caring Christian brothers and sisters and Christian Chronicle colleagues who offer constant support and understanding — even as, in some cases, they deal with much more trying diseases and circumstances in their own lives and families.
Before writing this, I had to promise Tamie not to portray her as “too perfect” or “too pitiful.”
The fact is, nobody’s perfect.
But my wife of 21 years amazes me with her resiliency and resolve.
I don’t know if it has something to do with her medication, but we’ve never had fewer dirty dishes in the kitchen or less unfolded laundry in the clothes basket than the last few months. We need to figure out which pill is causing this and order a permanent supply! (Just joking, babe.)
Tamie’s illness also has disrupted her sleeping patterns.
For a while, she was going to bed at 9 p.m. and waking up by midnight. Come to think of it, maybe that’s when she found time to keep working a full-time job and clean up after her messy husband and three children (the oldest is away at Oklahoma Christian University but manages to make the 10-mile drive home for Mom’s cooking quite frequently).
Perhaps one small blessing of this recent turn in my wife’s life has been the opportunity to slow down, just a little.
Before now, she — like many of us — ran all the time, be it sponsoring field trips at our kids’ schools or driving a van full of college students to Mexico on our church’s annual spring break mission trip.
Now, she has figured out, she can’t run anymore.
At the same time, Tamie’s experience has made her — and her husband — much more aware of people for whom illness seems interminable.
Of course, my wife always has been an exceptionally caring person. Her husband drives with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the horn. She, on the other hand, seems to keep her right foot close to the brakes — just in case she sees an opportunity to provide an opening for another driver to enter the roadway.
Tamie’s recent experience has served only to heighten her concern and compassion for others.
“The slower pace has forced me to focus on other ways to encourage people,” she told me. “I find myself searching out people who are hurting or need a personal message, to send them notes, texts, Facebook messages. I knew they needed those words before, I’m sure, but I was moving too quickly to stop and share them.”
Finally, Tamie shared with me, those who pray so faithfully on her behalf humble and inspire her.
“I’m not a mushy person,” my wife said, “but I get teary when I think of the friend who sets a reminder on her phone so that she remembers to lift me up to our Father every morning at 9.”

I, too, pray for my wife. Often, I plead for God to return our lives to the way they used to be. In my less selfish moments, I simply ask the Lord to reveal his plan in Tamie’s present sufferings.

Bobby Ross Jr. is Managing Editor of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected]

  • Feedback
    I can appreciate what your wife is going through, as one who has dealt with constant pain for over 30 years, I know how hard it is to keep going when you hurt all the time. I also know how hard it is on your spouse. I thank God daily for my wife of 40 years who puts up with me and my sleepless nights and constant pain. In some ways it is harder for her than me. I learned years ago that anyone could hurt, it takes absolutely no talent. Tolerating it however requires a great deal of skill. I will remind you of what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12 :5-10.” God’s grace is sufficient!” What I do when it gets so bad I grind my teeth and want to scream, I pick up my Bible and read the Psalms. I find a lot of comfort there.
    Bruce Stroud
    South Cobb Church of Christ
    Lithia Springs, GA
    United States
    January, 14 2012

    Thank you for the insightful and caring way you presented your situation. I have been beset by some health issues recently that have produced the same feelings your wife is experiencing, and have begun to do what I should have been doing all along. And how rewarding it is to serve others! May God bless you all with solutions and greater service.
    Keith Barclay
    The church of Christ in Normal
    Bloomington, IL
    McLean
    January, 10 2012

    Bobby, your family will be in our prayers. It’s great to read about strong companionship in the presence of pain. May God in his mercy remove the pain and may he also be glorified through your faithfulness.
    Richard and JeannaLynn May
    South Yukon Church
    Yukon, OK
    USA
    January, 6 2012

    i want to tell you how much I admire Tammi and the way she is handling her constant pain. Chronic pain is something most people find hard to grasp. I wish your wife the best as she struggles with her problem.
    Bruce Stroud
    South Cobb Church of Christ
    Lithia Springs, GA
    United States
    January, 5 2012

    Gaye, thanks for your insight and support group info. Darlene, I bet a few baseball games would be just the ticket. 🙂 Everyone, thank you for your kind words and prayers. They are truly appreciated.
    Bobby Ross Jr.
    The Christian Chronicle
    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
    USA
    January, 5 2012

    In times like this prayer is the key.The brethren in New Town church of Christ are praying for you.God is solution to all our problems. Emmanuel Osei, Ghana. west Africa. [email protected]
    Emmanuel Osei
    New Town church of Christ
    Akim Oda, Ghana
    Ghana
    January, 5 2012

    Bobby:
    I have read this article over several times and I admire Tamie as she struggles with pain and keeps on going to finding ways still to comfort others. May God provide those careing for her to
    find ways to relive her pain. Maybe she should try a few baseball games. Tell her the season is about to start.
    In Christian love, Darlene Larson
    Darlene Larson
    Wellington, Ks Church of Christ
    Milan, Kansas
    USA
    January, 4 2012

    I seriously appreciate your good work. Keep on with it, the sure reward will surely come. Sorry Tamie. God is aware.
    Jacob Akerigba
    Church of Christ, Grade 1 Area Court, Taraku, Benue State, Niger
    Taraku, Benue
    Nigeria
    January, 4 2012

    Thanks for this wonderful article of hope and caring and TRUSTING in the GOD OF ALL HEALING AND STRENGTH.
    My husband has gone through similar things w/Myasthenia Gravis. We almost lost him 2 1/2 yrs ago to an MG crisis. He came out of ICU telling everyone to TRUST IN THE LORD NO MATTER WHAT.We are trusting and sharing more than ever. May God bless you both as you encourage others. Sincerely, Mickey Bates
    Mickey Bates
    Murietta church of Christ
    Wildomar, CA
    USA
    January, 4 2012

    I forgot to give the names of support groups on line….the best one I have found is on FB, called Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior, it will also link her to many others support groups, but I think this one is the best I have found. Again, Gaye Hickey
    Gaye Hickey
    Brentwood
    Nashville, Tn.
    Davidson
    January, 4 2012

    Brother Ross, I have suffered with RA for 35 years, more than half of my life. The medical field has come up with new medications and surgeries than when I first started out, so your wife will probably do well in the long run. The inflammation comes and goes, and she will have good days, weeks and months, even years. If she would like to have someone to vent to, there are two really good web support groups, they inspire, encourage, and give timely information about treatment plans, etc. I will be praying for her, and for the family. God bless you and your family on this journey, Gaye Hickey
    Gaye Hickey
    Brentwood
    Nashville, Tn.
    Davidson
    January, 4 2012

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