Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, Australia)

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 33 - February/March 2010 > Blessings (by Annette Stafford)


by Annette Stafford

Blessings - Overcoming Problems

'A mind ingrained in love sees things positively and always sees blessings in any crisis or circumstance.'

The presence of God in one's life allows us to rise above circumstances and focus on the goodness and love of God. 

A couple of years ago through our church family, My husband and I met the most incredible woman.  Some of you also were blessed enough to meet her. 

We had been approached by a couple of members of our church to ask if we would consider accommodating a friend of theirs, who lived interstate, whilst she undertook treatment for her cancer in Sydney.   They gave us a brief outline of her story - every person's nightmare of a health scare.   She had noticed a growth, she took herself along to her doctor, was assured all was ok and not to worry.  Later when it grew more she insisted on a referral to a specialist who, in turn, reiterated the need to not worry.

It was only on the insistence of two other church members, close friends of theirs, a couple of years later that she sought another medical opinion, this time in Sydney.

The diagnosis was shattering.  The growth was advanced cancer and the prognosis was deemed to be poor.

Immediate surgery was instigated.  This involved a complex 18 hour operation where skin from her inner thigh was used to cover the wound to allow for radiation treatment which would be performed later. 

Whilst she was recuperating from her operation, and prior to radiation treatment commencing, her husband paid us a visit in order for us to meet and get a little acquainted.  My husband and I immediately warmed to him. 

It's a strange thing but when someone is in a vulnerable state, as humans, we tend to want to protect them.  This is how we were with this brand new couple who just seemed to fall into our lives at that point in time.

Soon enough we had a new inhabitant in our home and we entered into a weird and wonderful relationship.  I say 'weird and wonderful' because when you are around someone going through what she was going through, the very nature of how you relate takes on a whole new form.

For one thing I stopped grizzling about any aspect of 'my lot'.  My whole thinking process changed.  Tiny little insignificant things that had bugged me before she moved in were now relegated into their rightful place of insignificance.  I stopped, as they say, sweating the small stuff.

Despite her staying out in the pool-house and away from the main house and also respecting her need for privacy we still managed to interact enough to be involved with her day to day journey of life.

What unfolded for me was a remarkable journey.

Despite all the terrible things that had happened to her, despite her whole world changing literally overnight, despite everything… Here was a woman who lived her life constantly counting her blessings.  Not once did we witness her languish in self pity.  Her family who came to stay with her told me that she had always been this way.

She was an amazing inspiration of a faithful follower of God and it turned out to be the biggest blessing to have her stay with us.

I remember saying to her in those early days after she told me of all the things that had transpired up to this point "How terrible for you, You must have asked yourself "Lord, why me?"

To which she responded "Oh no, No!  I was glad it was me.  I would rather it be me than have someone else go through this.  I wouldn't wish that on anybody." 

One day my daughter was upset because the hairdresser had botched her haircut. 

I tried to downplay the importance of it firstly because I wanted to reassure my daughter that her hair looked ok and secondly because I was embarrassed that she was sweating what seemed the small stuff.  It did seem trivial to me in the scheme of things particularly when vanity was such an insignificant consideration for our newly arrived guest.

A few days later my daughter received a beautiful 'Book on Hugs' from this lovely lady with an endearing inscription that almost made me cry to read.  She had empathized with my daughter's plight and was offering her support in the most sincere of ways.

In a few short weeks, due to the nature of her state of health, we became very attached to her.  When her treatment ended, our lives were so enmeshed that it took quite an adjustment to get used to her not being around. 

In fact my husband and I accompanied her and her husband to the camping show at Rose Hill Racecourse just before she returned back to her own home and we had a lovely outing giving us a memory of her we will always cherish.

We have kept loose contact through emails and have sadly understood that her condition is deteriorating. She wrote me a Christmas card just recently and in it she apologises for its presentation telling me she can no longer see very well and that her hearing is also badly affected by her illness.  She gave me an update on her family and what is happening there and then over the page she writes "The Lord has blessed us in so many ways.  He is generous."

It's easy for me to count my blessings that she came into our life.  She humbled us and made us look at the whole world in a completely different way.  She touched our lives and she will always hold a special place in my heart by her stoicism and attitude.  She and her husband live their lives with God firmly at the centre.

What a wonderful witness she is to others.  Her life is a reflection of God's Love.  Others may look at her and see such sorrow yet she looks out and sees all the beauty surrounding her.  She appeared to take nothing for granted and attributed everything to God, giving thanks to Him at all times.

She is living testimony that this world may affect us on the outside but God can heal us on the inside and make us whole again. 

Our lesson study this week is all about joy in our hearts.  The woman I tell you about has joy in her heart no matter what her journey.

Her circumstances are not favourable and her joy is the result of Being - as in being connected to Jesus, The True Vine.

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 33 - February/March 2010 > Blessings (by Annette Stafford)