Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sanctified by Sickness - Special Guest Post from Gigi Hughes

Gigi has been a dear friend of mine for many years. I met her through my husband's first church plant. She has been in my life ever since. I have laughed with Gigi, cried with Gigi, have had some of my best meals (ever) with Gigi (she cooked them), I have labored in the Lord with Gigi (she cooked our meals at Psalm 119 Conferences), we have evangelized intensely together (she drove me around many times while I frantically looked for people to witness to to be on the old The Way of the Master Radio), she was one of the first sisters I called when our dog Baby died (and she was over to our house in what seemed like minutes -shes a dog lover too), and most of all I have seen her suffer well. That is why I asked her to write a bit about how she has been sanctified through sickness. I hope you are comforted by reading this from Gigi:

“Whatever it takes, Lord.  Do whatever it takes in my life to make me look more like you and less like me.”

In 2010 I was diagnosed with last stage Hepatitis-C that I had carried for 30 years.  The disease had already damaged my liver to the point wherein my doctors estimated my lifespan to be 5-8 years maximum without immediate, and successful, treatment.   I had contracted this disease in 1984 from a blood transfusion prior to the blood supply being tested for such a disease.  However, my husband and I saw that this was a blessing from the Lord…a blessing beyond what we could’ve ever imagined.

We chose the treatment: one year of Interferon (a type of chemo) and it immediately caused my white blood count to drop to an alarming level--almost incompatible with life but for the Neupogen (a drug given to cancer patients on chemotherapy which forces your bone marrow to make white cells.)  I was so ill, and my hair was falling out by the handfuls that I jokingly said that I looked like a “3-year olds’ doll!” with the fluttering eye, missing hair and ragamuffin appearance J  How gracious is God? 

This is when I could truly “see” myself as Christ must see us…broken, with nothing to offer but “ugly.”  That’s all I could give my husband.  What a picture of the gospel!  He loved me in all of my “ugly” and inability to do anything for him!  What a picture of Christ!  He had to do it all—and it made me love him more. Mostly, it screamed grace and pointed me to Christ.  We clung to Christ and saw how the Holy Spirit strengthened us when we wanted to give up and how the Father orchestrated every breath.  Wow. What an honor.  What a privilege. 

The chemo killed my gallbladder so it was removed upon completion of the course.  However, praise be to God, my liver enzymes are normal again and there is no Hepatitis C virus in my body. 

This year, I did have a full-blown stroke, which afflicted the left side of my body.  After 3 months of physical therapy, I am able to walk without a walker and there are few residual effects.  Again, the Lord has chosen us…two really broken, sinful, wretches to have an opportunity to point everyone who is watching us to His precious Son! 

I cherish the rod because my Father would withhold no good thing from me (Psalm 84) and every single moment that I depend on Him more is GOOD.  He is completing the work He has begun (Phil. 1:6).

You see, we only have this one opportunity to suffer…I pray I honor Him through it all as He conforms me.

“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death,” Philippians 1:18-20.

“Whatever it takes, Lord…whatever it takes.” - Gigi Hughes