The Suffering Servant Series

This series of four articles was written by Women of the Word Board Member Rose-Marie Slosek. They were originally published by FAI and are being re-posted here with permission.

In Isaiah 42:1-4 the Scriptures read,

Behold! My Servant whom I uphold,
My Elect One in whom My soul delights!
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles,
He will not cry out, nor raise His voice in the street.
A bruised reed He will not break, 
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will not fail nor be discouraged,
Till He has established justice in the earth; 
and the coastlands shall wait for His law
.

Our culture, including “church” culture does not like to talk about suffering, never mind actually experience it. This is probably more true in the Western Church where “entitlement” is expected. Human nature finds suffering by and large repugnant. We don’t want any part of it. We want to avoid it at all costs. Many in the church have been falsely taught that because of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross believers will not have to suffer. This is not what Jesus taught. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

The Scriptures tell us that Jesus was a man of sorrows. In this series Rose-Marie beautifully explores this aspect of Jesus as the Suffering Servant and how we might enter into His sufferings with Him. You may be reluctant to read further but there is a beauty here that is worthwhile to explore and to give ourselves to as the Lord leads us. May the LORD grant us His grace as we venture in. God bless you.

Part I: Our Call to the Broken

Bearing His Name, despite our own imperfections, is our great honor. Our many mistakes are rich fodder to learn the kind heart of God firstly toward ourselves so that we can share that honestly with others. If you are thinking that is too hard a task, know that He has already addressed that handily in this passage: “He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth.” He is up for hard! He will not give up on you or His mission till the ends of the earth are brought under His just rule. Read more here>>

Part II: The Specter of Laboring in Vain

God determines where we will be dispatched and what we must speak, and this brings us to the point I wish to highlight most: we can suffer because we may believe, whether it is true or not, that we have labored in vain. Our best efforts may seem to fail. All may seem lost. Yet there is no anguish that we need to stifle in this process. We do not need to be heroic while being obedient. We are not the final judge of whether we have succeeded or failed. We stand or fall on our obedience, not on our success. Read more here>>

Part III: The Suffering Servant and the Sons of God

Jesus had to set His face like flint to accomplish the destiny God had for Him. Refusing to suffer would have cost Him the victory of His earthly race and His ability to inherit His people—not only to purchase our salvation but the right to lead us as the righteously Suffering Servant. If Jesus had to be determinedly all-in, should I expect an easier path? Read more here>>

Part IV: The Fruits and Victory of Redemptive Suffering

There is no merit in just plain suffering. In the Kingdom to come it is said that “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Thankfully, the coming fullness of the kingdom of God has no suffering in it. We have, however, much that can be gained by our willingness to suffer as we minister to the pains of mankind, in general, and specifically Israel, in this age. Read more here>>

A Final Word

Take your time to prayerfully read and ponder this series. Mull it over before the Lord taking one article at a time. May the Lord lead you in His paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Maranatha!

Rose-Marie Slosek is on the Board of Directors of Women of the Word. She also serves on the Lead Teams for FAI Emmaus Online School and Frontier Alliance International Homefront. She can be reached at rmslosek@comcast.net

Diana’s Story of Redemption

by Andrea Parker   photos by Julie Ganey   re-posted with permission

Diana’s smile is amazing. I met Diana in August. But, it took until quite recently for me to see that smile. Before I share Diana’s story, I want to briefly introduce some background on story-telling…

In the past few years here at Tenwek (hospital in Kenya) , I have learned the difficulty in sharing someone’s story, especially with attention to the different contexts from which we come. But, we pray that the words and pictures convey the “beauty from ashes” that is this story.

Injuries are a huge part of what we see as doctors at Tenwek. In addition to accidental injuries, many injuries are intentionally-inflicted, perhaps due to land disputes or livestock ownership issues or in situations of domestic violence.

Diana was admitted in August with severe head injuries, deep cuts through the skin and bone such that the brain was visible, as well as multiple other deep cuts and injuries to her back and arms and amputation of two of her fingers. These were violent injuries, clearly meant to do serious damage or cause death. Diana was brought in several hours after her injuries, and immediately taken to the operating room, where…

her wounds were washed out and repaired. Her physical wounds, that is…

Over the next several days, we began to see that as severe as Diana’s physical wounds were, equal in severity were the non-physical wounds. And those wounds cannot be sewn together and repaired in a few hours of time in an operating room. Diana struggled to eat. She was tearful. She would not make eye contact. She rarely spoke and relied on her sister to answer questions; I did not even realize she spoke English.

We began to hear parts of Diana’s story – she had been injured by a man, not her husband as she is not married. It was not the first time; she had old scars. She was scared. Over several days to weeks, we prayed for her on our team rounds, and we spent time with her later in the afternoons. We felt a deep desire for her to know her worth, both to us and to a God who loves her with an incomprehensibly immense love. We wanted her to know that she was deeply cherished. Our chaplains and a social worker came and met with her, and over the course of those few weeks…

she came to know the radical love of Jesus who cares so profoundly about each of us.

As we began to make plans for her discharge from the hospital, we had questions:

  • Was it safe for her to return home?
  • Did she have a community to support her?
  • How could she better understand who Jesus is and how God can work in her life?

Throughout our few years here, Bob and I have seen numerous examples where the ideal person is available at a time when their particular, unique skill or expertise is needed. For instance, a patient with a complex vascular problem is here the one week of the year that we have a vascular surgeon available. In these times, we have become deeply grateful for and found a new appreciation in the way that God uses the Body of Christ – our various gifts, desires, enjoyments, strengths – for His glory. We have become keenly aware of our own small part in this picture. While most often I’ve seen this happen through medical providers, in this situation…

God used Tabitha Ministry and some other missionary and Kenyan friends.

Tabitha Ministry  is a ministry to Kenyan women in the area surrounding Tenwek Hospital. It started out of a home Bible study but has grown to a network of thousands of women learning the Bible and caring for one another. It was started by a missionary friend, Linda, and a Kenyan woman, Peris Rotich. As Diana was in the hospital, I reached out to Linda, Peris, and another friend who works with Tabitha Ministry, Julie, in hopes that they could meet with Diana so that perhaps she could be connected to a group of women from Tabitha, near her home, who might be able to provide continued support and encouragement.

God used the Tabitha leaders in beautiful and wonderful ways to minister to Diana, and I began to hear more of Diana’s story through them.

Diana is one of eight daughters and no sons. Had she been born into a family with sons, likely her life would have been much different. If she had a brother, as her parents aged, they would have been cared for by a son and daughter-in-law. Instead, Diana was chosen to stay with her parents and care for them, both as a financial provider and for their daily needs.

Diana is a teacher, and her home is on the same plot of land as her mother and father’s. Diana is not allowed to marry. As an unmarried woman, Diana is vulnerable, lacking the protection a husband would afford her. And there are men in her community who take advantage of her vulnerability. She has three children with two fathers. A particular man in her community, the father of two of her children, periodically comes to her house to spend the night, and at least once prior to this story, he has abused her violently enough to leave scars.

One morning, as he prepared to leave the house, he suddenly turned violent, taking a machete and attacking her, even as she tried to run away. Leaving the house, she screamed for the neighbors before she collapsed, and he escaped. The neighbors came, and when they saw the severity of her injuries, they assumed she was dead; she scared them when she asked them to take her to the hospital.

The first hospital they took her to saw how bad her injuries were and wouldn’t even allow her into the hospital, sending her instead on to Tenwek with a blanket to soak up some of the blood. Tenwek is an hour and a half of very bumpy dirt roads from her house. Diana said she didn’t even feel the trauma of the ride as she was unconscious.

As the women from Tabitha Ministry talked to Diana, they were able to share personal experiences and situations and encourage her in her newfound faith.

They spent hours over several days with her acknowledging her trauma, allowing her to talk and process the situation, and hearing her fears. They prayed, shared scripture, and sang songs with Diana before her discharge. And they arranged for Diana to have women visit her at her home through a Tabitha group nearer to her. I am so very grateful for the time these women spent pouring into the life of another woman.

A little over a week ago, Julie, Peris, and I had the opportunity, along with several women from Tabitha Ministry who joined us at various points on the journey, to visit Diana in her home. We met her parents and children and had a beautiful time of hearing Diana’s story.

She related that in that moment as she was escaping, as she was fearing for her life, she just cried out to God, that he would forgive her and forgive this man. Hearing her say that reminded me of Christ on the cross. She said she had heard about Jesus all her life but had never known him until she was in the hospital.

Diana and her family told us of the many ways in which God intervened on her behalf that day and the way He has changed her life since.

Her family was supposed to be away, yet their plans had changed, and they were around. In this very remote area, a car just happened to be passing by the neighbor’s house, and the driver offered to drive her to the hospital for no charge. When they arrived at Tenwek, Diana’s mother was told that she would need a blood transfusion and also given an estimate of the cost of the hospitalization and surgery. She was overwhelmed wondering where she would find family to donate blood and money to pay.

She happened to run into another relative who was at the hospital for an unrelated reason, and that relative organized family members to donate blood and contribute to the cost of her care. She talked about God’s work in her life including the way that He has miraculously taken away her fear, her nightmares, her anger and her bitterness and her shame. We shared chai (Kenyan tea) and songs and prayer and hugs.Diana is in the middle with the blue head scarf. Her 4 year old is in the front center. The rest are Tabitha Ministry* bible study leaders, friends, neighbors and relatives.

I will not pretend to understand why these things happen or why sometimes evil seems to prevail in this world or give easy answers.

Nor do I want to naively overlook or simplify the trauma that she or others have experienced. But, I do know that God’s work in Diana’s life is obvious. Her smile is not one of naivete or ignorance or denial. Her smile is that of someone who knows the love of God in a real way. 

 

 

Women of the Word  helps to support the work of  *Tabitha Ministry through offerings and prayer. We heard about this ministry through personal connection with Dr. Mike and Julie Ganey.  Mike is a pediatric surgeon and Julie is a nurse. They have 2 children, Eden and Caleb and have ministered in Kenya for several years at Tenwek Hospital and in the community.