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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Friendship Forged in Suffering....

This is one of those posts that really needed to be written and read. Why? First of all because it shows that human beings, no matter how difficult or painful the situation, will find a way to endure ANYTHING and then over come it. 

In this particular example it started with two men and their simple faith that GOD was going to take care of them. That no matter how dark and difficult things appeared....they were not going to give up and let the Bastard Win!!

The second reason is much more personal. One of those two men was my friend Mike and if it wasn't for him...I honestly don't know if I would have been able to endure the last 4 years or so. It was an almost unbearable time in my life....a time filled with
 pain & agony, confusion, emotional upheaval, despair, frustration, financial catastrophe, heart-break, multiple surgeries and set-backs and on and on and on. My relationships with family and friends were pushed to the very brink of destruction on many occasions.

You see, much like my life....the last several years for Mike had been filled with a very similar series of medical set-backs, constant debilitating pain and frustration. And as the old saying one person suffers in a void, Mike's wife Kathy suffered and endured this incredible hardship right along with him.Often feeling helpless to help the man she cared so much about. There were a ton of questions and no reasonable answers.

I was fortunate enough to meet Mike and his wife Kathy at church and that relationship grew into something BIGGER THEN EITHER ONE OF US INDIVIDUALLY. IT was a strange set-up in a way. We didn't talk on the phone or do stuff together...we mainly saw each other at church on Sunday mornings. But those conversations laid the foundation of faith that I believe helped both of us in a way to continue fighting the good fight during these years of pain and difficulty.

We would often marvel at the similarities in our uncanny it was that we were brought together to share things with each other that I know I wasn't comfortable talking about to anyone else.His situation, since it was so similar to mine gave him INSTANT Credibility to me....I trusted him and that was huge since there were few people I truly trusted. This made it more bearable for me to know that there was at least another person around on the planet who felt like I did.

Several weeks ago I saw Mike at church and he really looked like his illness was getting the better of him. As we often did, WE WERE JOKING AROUND, in a black humor sort of way about the doctors who were supposed to be taking care of us. We joked about how sooner or later a Doctor was gonna kill one of us.

Looking backing on that conversation now, I wish I hadn't initiated that line of conversion with Mike. It turned out to be the last time I ever spoke to my friend here on earth. Mike passed away last Saturday                             in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan Medical Center from complications due to his long running illnesses and Cancer Treatments.

Naturally my first reaction was one of shock. Yea....I knew how sick he was and I knew he was weary and that his time was very near but your never totally prepared for the final reality of death. Plus I wasn't ready to let God have him. I selfishly wondered how I was going to make it through all this without Mikes wise-cracking, good natured outlook on things.

Then it occurred to me that Mike's long fight, his awful life-long battle was over...and he was finally at rest.He won the fight that he fought for so long and so well. I love Mike and I miss him....I know how much Kathy loves him and so do many others but to the very last one of his friends and family we believe he most certainly deserves his rest with the LORD. No worries Brother, we'll catch up to you and HEAVEN and we'll really have something to talk about then!

And that of course reminds me of one of my favorite verses of scripture:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Mathew 11:28-30

There you go my friend....REST. It's all yours now as you crawl in close and wrap yourself safely and tightly into the Hands of GOD.

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