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2013-02-21 digital edition

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2013-02-21 / Church

THEY SAID IT

(Life Lessons from Hospice Patients)

Suffering Conquered My Fear

Jimmy’s life had been hard. His parents died in an accident when he was five. He went to live with his grandfather. Jimmy was small and slight. At school, bullies took advantage. When he came home, he found no sympathy.

“You sissy,” his burly grandfather would say, and then beat him. “I’ll toughen you up.”

The beatings continued for years. Jimmy went internal. He began drinking at age 13.

“I was an alcoholic from my first drink,” Jimmy said. “Fear drove me there. Anger kept me there.”

When I met Jimmy, his cardiac disease was so bad doctors marveled he was still alive. He’d been sober for 20 years. I can honestly say he was one of the most content, peaceful men I’ve known.

“God is good. Life is full of suffering,” Jimmy said. “Fear has been my greatest enemy. Suffering conquered it and prepared me for peace.”

Huh?

Fear was the major motivating factor in Jimmy’s early life. This produced more trouble, more pain. Finally, something inside Jimmy broke. He gave up. He quit trying to do life on his own.

“I began looking up,” he said.

Suffering. We can let it take over. We can allow it to crush us, or we can let it do its work, reminding us life is not about us and our comfort. Life is often about overcoming.

“In this world, you will have trouble,” Jesus said. “Take heart. I have overcome the world.”

Difficulty is an invitation to look up, and overcome.

Will we?

Gary Roe is Minister at First Baptist Church in Lexington and the Chaplain of Southern Care Hospice

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