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Peter's Interview by Bram Floria of Compassion Radio

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger
The Truth Network Radio
September 24, 2021 3:00 am

Peter's Interview by Bram Floria of Compassion Radio

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger

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September 24, 2021 3:00 am

My friend Bram Floria recently asked me to join him on two part-interview for Compassion Radio. Bram and I unpacked quite a few things in this conversation about suffering, anxiety, and God's provisions. 

For more information about Compassion Radio, visit www.compassionradio.com

 

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When you have an episodic pain, you're going to react.

But when the pain lessens, you stop reacting. When we're dealing with emotional pain, a lot of our reactions will be to flail around emotionally or to question the goodness of God. Hi, and welcome to Compassion Radio.

And when it comes to today's topic, we're doubling down on that first word in our name. If there's ever been a time in living memory when compassion is more needed, I can't think of it. And when you can't be there to comfort those you love, it makes it all the worse for all of us. Frankly, we all need a generous dose of compassion to get us through.

But if we're all in this together, so to speak, who's going to be the first to show compassion? It makes me think about a couple of other old turns of phrase that have been worked to death over the years. The first one is, God will never give you more than you can handle.

Well, frankly, that's untrue, but we'll save that discussion for another program. The second saying goes something like this, when it rains, it pours. Today's guest can certainly give testimony to that. He has survived the trauma of almost 40 years of full time care for his wife, Gracie. After barely surviving a car crash in her teens, the two of them have embarked on a journey that neither could have imagined. More than 80 major surgeries later, they thought they knew how life was going to go for them.

And then COVID, and then another life threatening accident. Thankfully, they've both been transparent on this wrenching journey. And in God's economy, it somehow becomes a great encouragement to others who are also facing unexpected loss and danger. If you wonder how you're going to get through the next year, the next day, maybe even the next minute, you couldn't spend a more valuable half hour than this one in the company of godly, passionate people like you'll meet today. Thanks for tuning our way. On Compassion Radio today, we're welcoming back a special friend to the ministry, someone who's really poured a lot of comfort and encouragement into us in some pretty hard times.

And he speaks from a wealth of experience, and it's the kind of wealth he probably wishes he didn't have. But Peter Rosenberger, welcome back to Compassion Radio. It's good to be with you, and thank you for this. And yeah, it has been kind of a weird time, hasn't it? You know, I set up this conversation a couple weeks ago, anticipating us to discuss some hard things. And then hard things started happening. It wasn't like we were going to talk about things, we had to go through them. You facing some issues with your wife and her health, which was not expected.

And I want to talk about how that has affected your perspective and your faith in the past few weeks. But we've got to start from the beginning for most of our listeners here. I want you to, in a couple of paragraphs, summarize 40 years worth of experience in medical history with you and your wife, Gracie. Well, Gracie had a car wreck back in 1983, 38 years ago, which is a long time. You know how I know that's a long time? Because Scripture says it's a long time.

There you go. In the book of John, Jesus goes to the pool there, and he sees that guy that had been there since birth, been there 38 years, and then Scripture, after it says 38 years, the next sentence is, he had been there a long time. So even Scripture validates that 38 years is a long time, and Gracie's been hurt for a long time. She's gone through a lot of challenges. And that was our exchange in our text this past week or so. 81 is in the books is what you said to me.

81 is in the books. She caught her prosthetic foot, and she lost her balance. She twisted, but her prosthetic leg did not. She has two prosthetic legs, and she broke her femur, and it was very traumatic, and she had surgery.

Everything is fixed. Now we've got to get her recuperating. And then she's facing surgery number 82 at the end of October. That's been on the books for a while here because she's so bent over because the way her back was fused 20 years ago when her disc started collapsing, that's the way they did it 20 years ago, but pitching her forward, and now she's over about 40 degrees. There's a surgeon in Denver that's going to straighten her back up is the plan. We don't know if this is still on for October. We'll find out. We're going to deal with it as we deal with it. It's hard to imagine facing that kind of recovery for a spiral fracture on your own upper leg bone, and then also go into a multi-hour, probably half a day's worth of surgery, to undo the accordion that's become of her back over those years. Yeah, it is.

It's not haphazard. It's very intentional that we have to say we're not there yet. Let me sum up this 40 years that we're talking about here because it's the platform upon which we're going to build this conversation today. When you're a young man and you're looking for a wife, and you see in Gracie a spark of life that has overcome incredible burdens and challenges already, and you enter into her life and you inherit a pile of medical documents along with the marriage license, you know when you start it's going to be a challenge. But as a young man, your faith is blind enough that you can say, bring it, God, whatever you've got for me. And you start that journey together, and I've watched the two of you from a distance for maybe 20 years. In the past maybe 5 or 10 years, we've built a friendship, and that's been a joy for me to see someone like you care for a friend of mine, someone I care deeply about, but to watch the struggles you both have gone through, and you have, to a T, owned each other's pain, you've owned each other's joys and celebrations, and you make opportunity to celebrate in every one of those challenges and every one of those light times where things are not so critical. And that's what I've admired about the two of you over those years. And that has led you into a ministry that has had profound import. You are ministering to people like you.

You have a program called Hope for the Caregiver that's broadcast on the weekends across the nation. And of course, everybody's thinking about existential threats now. We've all faced the issue of what happens if we lose our job, and millions did last year. Millions have faced, what if we lose someone that we love?

And if you are anybody who knows more than 200 or 300 people in the entire world right now, you've lost somebody to COVID in the past year. So we've all faced something that says, you know, this is not all there is, I hope, but it's all we're going through, it seems, right now. Well, yes, that's a lot to address in one paragraph that you gave me. When I married Gracie, in my heart, I knew that she was everything that I would ever want. And in the part of me that is redeemed, it all clicked. In the part of me that is being redeemed, it took a while to walk through some of these things. I don't know how theologically correct that is, but there's a lot of sanctification going on in my life, whereas I'm confident of belonging to Christ.

I am equally confident that there's a lot of sanctification going on in my life. So suffering has a way of illuminating those things. What kind of suffering does the caregiver go through when your loved one is suffering? Well, and that's the thing, watching suffering and ministering to someone who suffers is its own journey of self-realization. You're going to see what's in your soul.

There's nothing like caring for somebody with a disability for a couple of decades to expose the gunk that's in your own soul. And it amplifies it. And I think in some respects, the difference is when it's chronic and relentless, you never get a chance to put it back on the shelf and then start all over again. It's always up in your face. And for me it is anyway.

And I've talked to a lot of people who did this, they have the same principles. I've had a theory about this for some time about pain. When you have an episodic pain, you're going to react. But when the pain lessens, you stop reacting.

Gracie fell and broke her leg a week and a half ago. She is not still experiencing the acuteness of that moment, but in that moment she reacted rather intensely. She almost went into shock.

It's a very serious break. She's not there now. Pain has subsided, so she's not having the same kind of reaction. And depending on what the level of pain is, depending on our reaction. In her case, like I said, she almost went into shock.

When she had her wreck, she did go into shock. That's our body's extreme way of responding to pain. When we're dealing with emotional pain, a lot of our reactions will be to flail around emotionally or to question the goodness of God. Why God are you allowing this? Why are you doing this?

And you can see that. If you don't believe me, go out and look at any prayer request people put on Facebook and you'll see people struggling to understand why God is doing this. Whether getting Bibles into closed countries, relief supplies into dangerous refugee camps, or providing training and theology books to barefoot pastors as they begin their ministry, these are all the kind of things we love to share with you every day.

And more importantly, they're the kind of things we like to do. You know, for over 78 years now, Compassion Radio listeners and supporters like you have absolutely been up to the task. Will you help us get ready for the next big faith challenges and opportunities of this year? Your gift today will provide the means for us to begin some new initiatives with our Bible and relief partners that reach farther than we've ever gone before. It begins with you and your brave investment in kingdom communication and kingdom action. Every time we go to the front lines of faith, it inspires your faith and your giving to the Great Commission as much as it does ours.

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Thank you for loving us in this way. Is that to say that the question you're talking about is the true kernel of you? That it's just finally being squeezed out? Or that it's a challenge to what you want to believe? It's hard to say, but I think there's something about the compression of pain that forces to the surface where you really live and your soul.

What your faith is all about, what you really think of God. Job experienced this. He finally got squeezed enough. What really squeezed him was God showing up and not answering his questions but giving him different ones.

There you go. And the answer often lies in the question. But the problem that we have when we're dealing with episodic pain is that we ask these questions that are rocking the foundation of our faith. But when the pain lessens, when the ink on the divorce documents dry, when the grass grows on the grave, when the bones knit and you can resume lifestyle, if you will, you get another job. You get released from the hospital.

You get a bill of health from your oncologist. Those questions go back on the shelf. But do they ever go away? They don't ever go away.

They just go into dormant mode until the next episode. But when you're dealing with chronic pain and suffering that is relentless and doesn't end, you don't have those questions going into dormant mode. They always stay with you and you have to reconcile yourself with them or you're going to go barking mad.

And I think sometimes barking mad is almost a precursor to reconciling with, at least in my case it was. Where caregivers live is that we're watching something that doesn't seem to have a solution, not in this life. And we recognize our powerlessness over it. And that powerlessness awareness is very unsettling to us. This is what brings you and I to this conversation today because this is what's going on in our culture. We're having people look at a seemingly never-ending issue and all this unsettledness and we're realizing we don't have any control over this. We give ourselves the illusion of control, but we don't have it. And I think one of the things that Gracie and I have had to struggle mightily with us is that we truly cannot do anything but try to just hang on to this raft as we go through Class 5 Rapids that don't seem to end.

And in your case, those rapids have been mighty swift the past couple of weeks. We've got a major, major surgery coming up. After this incident, we've got all the other drama we normally live with in our daily lives, but we're not there at that next place.

We're here right now and this is where we're going to live. Okay, Peter, talk to me about what good suffering is. You talk about the chronic phase of pain, whether it's something acutely physical like the actual pain of a break or an ongoing medical crisis which causes pain.

And many things like cancer can cause not just intermittent pain, but chronic, ongoing, unameliorated pain can keep coming at you. It forces the question to the top. You have to address them. You have to have some latitude there to actually address the question while the pain's there. That's one way I can see it as being valuable in that we can choose then to face the questions. But what good have you found in your 40 years is pain? Well, you have to back up and look at this from several different viewpoints. I just finished reading The Problem of Pain by C.S.

Lewis. And one of the things that Lewis posits is that pain is a sterile evil, whereas other evils in this world produce more evil. By definition, they cannot help it, but pain is an evil that does not produce more evil in of itself. In fact, pain can elicit positive things and good things. You can develop a more trusting relationship with God when you're in pain. It elicits compassion from others. That's the whole nature of your program, compassion radio. And because we're seeing the pain of people who warrant compassion. Pain is a sterile evil in this world.

Let me challenge that point for a second. Because when we see examples of those who have a certain kind of psychic or emotional pain, which has been earned through moral injury, there was a Marine that went and murdered four people at random in Florida just a couple of days ago because he was going into psychic breaks and thinks that God was telling him to go harm somebody. Because he's been through great evils, evils have been done to him, his heart is broken.

And so is his mind at this point. And he chooses to do evil in response to that pain. So how is that different than the kind of pain that you're talking about? What Lewis was saying is that pain in of itself does not demand or ensure that evil will follow it.

Some people will choose with their pain whatever reason to go a different direction. But it does not require sin to follow. Whereas other evils in this world, you know, lust will only breed more evil. And this is where Lewis was saying pain is unique in that is that there's a sterility to it.

Now what we choose to do with it, we could take a sterile instrument and do something horrible with a sterile scalpel, for example. But pain does not necessarily mean it will produce evil. Jesus went through extreme pain and yet evil did not follow his pain in that sense. Yeah, I understand.

I think that's the point Lewis was making. This marine, for example, was in great pain and then the choices were made at some point that great evil followed it. But it was not necessary because if he had gone into the proper help circumstances, somebody recognized this, his pain could have been dealt with and would not have led to these kinds of things. And I know that's a little bit esoteric and I don't mean to get off in the weeds on it, but the point of it is that if we start looking at everything that is in this life that is painful as evil, we're missing the boat.

It is painful when I touch a hot stove, but it is not evil. Yeah, I understand that. So as I've studied this thing with pain with Gracie and me and I've looked at different things, for example, Gracie can be out of pain right now.

Yeah, that's true. She could be completely out of pain. However, she wouldn't be able to function. She wouldn't be Gracie. We could numb her up with anesthesia drugs and she would be stuck in a bed and she wouldn't be able to do anything.

We could give her so many opioids that she would be zonked out and she wouldn't be able to function. So getting rid of all pain cannot be the goal for us. And I think that as I look at our society and our culture, evil is being worked in your life.

I really reject that whole thought. If I'm going through something painful and I belong to Christ, I'm a part of this broken world and there may be consequences to certain decisions. If I hit my thumb with a hammer, there is not great evil being wrought by the hammer. So I can't look for those kinds of blanket pronouncements that people seem to do with things and say, this is evil, this is good. Then you have to go back to Joseph. And Joseph looked at his brothers, what you meant for evil, God meant for good. And so that throws a whole other monkey wrench into the conversation.

Okay. I remember one of the most devastating and informative prayers I ever heard was preparing to go into a refugee camp where all of the people that were in this camp were deemed by the US government at that time to be enemies. That they had no potential to do anything good in the world and therefore they would never be admitted to the United States.

They would never be given any humanitarian relief by anybody in the United States. And yet God had opened the door for us to go to these people and be with them. And one of the prayers of one of the pastors with us at the time, who was someone from the country you were in, was not one of the Americans, said simply, Father, we are about to step into your brokenness and it's a broken world out there.

Let the breaking begin with me. I never forgot that. In that same vein, a pastor friend of mine who's been one of the most important voices in my life prayed one time. He wasn't necessarily thinking of Gracie and me. He just was praying this and he said, Lord, may we suffer well. And I thought, you know, this world is broken and all of Jesus' disciples suffered, including Jesus, sharing in the sufferings of Christ.

And what does that even mean? And I think sometimes, you know, you're being martyred or you're getting beaten for Christ or there's self-flagellation emotionally and physically sometimes. But I think sharing in the sufferings of Christ, there's a recognition of just the brokenness of this world and we grieve over it. And I will say this. I was talking to Joni Eareckson Todd the other night about this very thing and I said, the further I get into this and whatever wisdom I get, it seems to always come with great sadness because I see brokenness more clearly.

And she said, well, maybe sadness might not be the right word. It may be a soberness about it, Peter. And I thought, OK, I'll take that because I think that's a good word, that there's a sobering quality to realize this world is broken and it is filled with devils, as Martin Luther said, though devils fill. It is a broken world that we are participating with Christ in sharing his sufferings. And then one day we're going to see it revealed in the redemption thereof.

And that's an important point. I want to talk about the redemptive worldview right now because we seem to be losing our grip on that one big time in the evangelical church in the West. The answer for many pastors and many churches simply, just get us out of here. Like pray in the rapture as quick as possible. I don't buy that that is the solution to what God put us here for, to escape. Earth is not an escape room.

It is God's creation. So how does our response need to be recalibrated? I think Jerry Seinfeld said it best. OK, the great Christian philosopher. That great theologian, Jerry Seinfeld, said, if you go to the medicine aisle at your stores, there's no such thing as regular strength. Everything is maximum strength.

In other words, whatever will kill the human body, back it off just a hair, and that's what I want. We are so consumed with pain relief that we're not seeing God in it. We're closing our minds and our ears and our hearts to allowing him to minister to us in it. Joseph asked the butler for Pharaoh, remember me when you come to Pharaoh. And he did. It took him a couple of years.

For a long time. And Joseph stuck there. He wanted to get out of that. Jesus in Gethsemane said, Lord, I really don't want this, yet not mine but thine. And we look at these patterns where it is human for us. If you look through the Psalms, you'll see this, oh, God, get me out of this.

But I will trust you, regardless. The humanness of us wants to get us out of here. But the Holy Spirit working in us says, be steadfast, be still, and know that he is God. All these churches really getting into the eschatology thereof. Listen, I'd love to step into his kingdom right now, but I'm not going to get all that worked up about all the prophecies and this and that and the four blood moons and whatever. How does that help me take care of my crippled wife, which is what I'm called to do today?

That's just the headspace I have. We have the luxury, of course, Peter, of not having to have acute suffering in our tent every day. And so I can speak about these things and bring people like you in that can help give us some moderation in our responses. And we've talked a lot in the program before about defiance not being a defining trait of faithfulness.

It just does not. There's no fruit of the Spirit called defiance. The things that God is calling us to be in this world are not defiant, but compliant with his will as he makes it possible for us to follow him. And he says, be perfect like I am perfect. He's trying to perfect us for the reason and the purpose he has for us right now. We're not to be perfect, we are called to go follow him perfectly into the mess and not be ashamed or afraid of the fact that we're going to go places where we just don't have a handle on it all. That we're going to be called upon to take risks out of love and to trust that he's actually going to want to use us and that he's proud of us. That he's glad we're part of his family and he doesn't want us to just run away and hide because he knows suffering's there and he wants us to address it and be with it and to be his hands, his feet, every stinking day that we're out there. And my heart is crushed, Peter, when I see so many people who claim to follow Christ in open defiance run and hide and claim its victory.

That really, really bothers me. So I would love to see the Christians be the ones that can hold on to those who are freaking out and are not the ones that are doing it when suffering or pain comes. I think that we are reaping a lengthy harvest of self-indulgence that we've done as believers. When you have money in the bank and prosperity and health and things are going well, then God is really blessing you. And when you don't have all of those things and any substantial thing by our definition, then God is not blessing us. That is counter to a lot of things that I see in Scripture.

There are times when it says the Lord does bless you. He increases the harvest and all that kind of stuff. But there's not any balance because he also said, they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. We focus on the renewing our strength and mount up like wings of eagle and walk and not grow.

We focus on that. But there's that waiting on the Lord clause. If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, then I will hear from heaven and I will heal their land.

There's an implication that the land is not healed. And he tells us to be still and wait. But there's this implication that there's going to be sufferings that he's going to deliver us from. And it's those parts that we jump ahead to the promise of restoration, but not the principle of being still and waiting and trusting him, the now and the not yet, I guess, as someone once said.

Nobody wants Gracie to stop suffering any more than Gracie does and me in that order. But what do we do if he doesn't choose to do that? Do we shake our fist at God and reject him and we get all mad and whatever? I mean, do we just live like bitter, angry people? Do we allow ourselves to be beaten down? Do we open ourselves up to people to come up and say the most horrific, theologically inaccurate things to us? Or do we stay steadfast and say, you know, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end.

They are new every morning. The important answer to that question is coming up tomorrow as Peter Rosenberger joins us once again. I hope you'll tune in then. When you pray about where to invest in the kingdom of God around the world, thank you for including us. We can't do this work without you, and we can't introduce you to the inspiring stories of the kingdom if you don't send us. Simply go to our website, compassionradio.com. Our toll-free number is manned during business hour specific time at 1-800-868-2478. If you get voicemail, just leave a full message and we will call you back as soon as the office is open. You can also write us and send your gift by mail to Compassion Radio, P.O. Box 2770, Orange, California, 92859.

I'm Bram Floria. Join us for the next Compassion Radio or online at compassionradio.com. God bless you, friends. On today's Compassion Radio... We can show people a lot of pictures of Jesus, but it doesn't compare to touching and being in the presence, understanding the deep relationship that we are called to with God.

He's not interested in us taking pictures of him. He's interested in us just being in him and him being in us. Hi, friends, and welcome back for part two of a moving interview with our good friend Peter Rosenberger from the Hope for the Caregiver broadcast. If you missed the powerful part one, it's on our website, compassionradio.com, so check that out later today. We'll pick it up right where we left off with Peter's explanation of what waiting on the Lord really means.

Thanks for joining us today. I think that we are reaping a lengthy harvest of self-indulgence that we've done as believers. When you have money in the bank and prosperity and health and things are going well, then God is really blessing you. And when you don't have all of those things and any substantial thing by our definition, then God is not blessing us. That is counter to a lot of things that I see in Scripture. There are times when it says the Lord does bless you. He increases the harvest and all that kind of stuff, but there's not any balance. There's this implication that there's going to be sufferings that he's going to deliver us from, and it's those parts that we jump ahead to the promise of restoration, but not the principle of being still and waiting and trusting him.

The now and the not yet, I guess, as someone once said. Nobody wants Gracie to stop suffering any more than Gracie does and me in that order. But what do we do if he doesn't choose to do that? Do we shake our fist at God and reject him and we get all mad and whatever? Do we just live like bitter, angry people? Do we allow ourselves to be beaten down? Do we open ourselves up to people to come up and say the most horrific, theologically inaccurate things to us? Or do we stay steadfast and say, you know, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end.

They are new every morning. And that becomes the challenge for us as we look at these things, and that applies to broken bones. That applies to amputation. That applies to marital difficulties. That applies to COVID-19. That applies to cerebral palsy. That applies to autism.

That applies across the board. As we look at this, recognize that, as my father says, God's got this problem. He thinks he's God.

And we're so busy trying to be a consultant to the Almighty. He is not Aladdin. He is not the genie from Aladdin. He is not Santa Claus. He is not the cosmic concierge.

He is God all by himself. And I heard a great thing the other day. We can't possibly know all that he is. Some people may, you know, kind of bristle at that, but I don't have to know what he knows in order to be calm like he's asked me to be. I don't know, Bram. I would like to think that I've owned these concepts.

I'm just now tiptoeing into it. You know, you and I have talked about the fact that both of us in different ways, because of the kind of experiences we've had, make us, as some people would say, experts. But we're not experts. We're specialists.

We've had experience. The things I've experienced that God is now using or is calling me to try to use as effectively as possible to encourage and to comfort and to challenge others in the platform that I have. You've got a group of people that God's put in your hand saying, you could reach these people.

And your experience is valid in reaching them. But it's not about evangelizing like we're trying to convert them to something. It's simply being God in the flesh in front of them with enough mercy and enough grace to say, these things are real and they're eternal and they're sustaining me right now. And wouldn't it be wonderful if you could know that, too? I mean, what better witnesses there to the real living faith than simply to live it? Well, there's an old saying in the army that the leader is often the guy that remembers where the jeep is parked.

And I think sometimes we get so filled up with all the knowledge and the academia that we forget the basic things. Where's the jeep parked? You know, what solid ground here? This was driven home to me. I'm about to get myself in a lot of trouble here, so you edit this accordingly.

All right. I come from the old school. When Gracie first got hurt, you know, you dealt with the surgeon, you talked with the doc, yada, yada, yada. Well, the world has changed a lot and you've got a lot of physician's assistants that come and deal with you and you've got nurse practitioners and so forth.

There's like buffers between you and the physician. Yeah, I tend to be drawn a little bit more to nurse practitioners than physician assistants. And I'm not disparaging the career. I'm not disparaging anything. All the letters need to go to Bram Florio.

Go right ahead, France. I noticed that the nurse practitioners tend to have more clinical experience. They're actually engaged like that in nurses as well. Gracie's been treated by hundreds upon hundreds of nurses. And I counted up one time there's well over 100 doctors of treaters.

So I think I'm in a unique position to assess this. Some people come in filled with academic knowledge into our rooms there at hospitals and so forth. And then some come in filled with clinical experience.

And then there's that rare group that comes in with both. And I thought, what can I learn from this? And I learned about this with Christian ministry. There are some ministers who come into the pulpit filled with great academic knowledge. And then there are some that come with extraordinary amount of pastoral skills of experience.

And then there's that rare breed that bring both. Once you realize that, you can start seeing that clearly in the way they approach the sermons and the way they do things. And I know some guys who are just amazing pastors, but their sermons are kind of faltering at times. They're not as polished and people dismiss it because they're not necessarily great speaker, but they are wonderful pastors. And then there's some that are great speakers, but you don't want them near your hospital room because they don't have anything to offer. And then you get that rare breed. And I know that because I was raised by one of them and that's my father. And there's no substitute for touching the brokenness of this world.

And that's a long way to get to it. If you really want to minister to the sick and the broken and the weary and the lost and the dying, as Jesus said, the sick, naked, hungry, prisoner, thirsty, you're going to have to touch them. You're going to have to spend time with them.

Don't try to fix it. Minister to them. There is a difference. When it comes to those who are excellent doctors, as you mentioned, or nurse practitioners, they take responsibility there. The buck stops with them. Assistants always have someone to buck it up to. But the one who takes the supreme responsibility for the action, if they know what they're talking about and they know how to talk well, they can lead you into a decision that's a cooperation between those who will be the hands of God's healing in your wife's body and those who need to be encouraged and loved by you in their work. You have roles to play here and God seals all of that and can bless all of that. I've seen it happen in our lives too, that when God's hand is on this, you just sense that He's there in the room and that the doctor, the nurse practitioner, the other professionals with you and you are in cooperation. The spirit of peace is in that room. Great things can happen. Miracles can happen.

And it's not just about how well He moves the scalpel. It has to do with God literally guiding hands and hearts at times that are critical. And I think about how many people are ready to lose people because of COVID. They're facing that right now. How do we help them end well if that's what's going to happen?

Or how do we see the miracle of healing happen and they're scared? So as we wrap up our time in these programs, Peter, I want you to kind of talk about entering into that again with someone who may be very new to this, like what you experienced with Gracie. Well, while you were saying that, it brought to mind a conversation I had with a nurse over there as I left.

I went and crashed in a hotel room across the street. They're not real keen on staying with patients in the hospitals anymore, you know. But this young nurse was going to take care of Gracie through the night. She's 25 years old.

I have children older than this. I was taking care of Gracie 10 years before she was born, you know, kind of thing. But I gave this young nurse a great gift.

And I think this is in principle what we can do for each other as believers. And I looked at her, I said, Gracie has three kinds of pain. She has her normal pain, which is substantial. And then she has this new insult to her body, which is significant. And then she has her third kind, which is the fear of getting in pain that she can't get out of.

And I said, all three are valid. And when you care for her, it is important to remember that. And the best way you're going to get through this with her if she has a tough night is to say to her, Gracie, don't you worry. We got this. We got this. I'm on it. We're going to get through this.

We can do this. You project that confidence, that calmness, that competency that we're going to get through this. I didn't tell her, I said, don't show any fear or she'll eat you alive. But I did say that if you will be confident in your skills and what you can do and be prompt in the professionalism that you bring, you're going to get through this.

And she did. And I said, and then pass it on to the next shift and so forth and so on. And I think this is what we do as believers with each other is to recognize the reality of the brokenness, that there is more than just one kind of pain going on when you see things going on. And it could be anything. I mean, in our case, we deal with it in the medical world.

But you think about people who are dealing with a family member who's an addict or an alcoholic. There's lots of layers of pain here. We can never, we can never, as believers, underestimate the torment that is fear. Scripture says it has torment.

And we can't underestimate what this does to people. And if we don't speak to it with clarity and the assurance of God's provision in it, you're afraid of what you don't know. And he's not going to tell us everything that we want to know.

But what he's going to do is reveal himself to us. And then we say, OK, now that I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil or thou art with me. This becomes our message. This becomes everything that we do as believers.

So when we go out into a COVID filled world, when we go out into a politically charged landscape and there's unsettledness, the whole thing in Afghanistan or the southern border or our 30 trillion dollars in debt or all the craziness of this world. Can we, as believers, walk into that with confidence and competence, that deep conviction of knowing that he who began a good work in us is faithful to complete it to the day of Christ Jesus? And we don't have to say, you know, Lord, get me out of here. We don't have to start praying for the rapture.

He's going to come back when he comes back. But what we can do is, Lord, give me insight. Help me see. Yeah. Help me hear. What do you see? What do you hear? Yeah. And I think that if we are so busy trying to get out of here, we're going to miss his heart.

Yes, we will. And he did not come here to get out of here. He came here to go to the cross. And once that was complete, then he left. But he had a specific mission of this. Why are we somehow thinking that we're not going to share in his mission, which is to come and heal the broken hearted, bind up the wounded, set the captive free. And then when he's ready for that to end, he'll let us know.

It's our strong desire to be going deeper, to go farther, to be braver than we've ever been, and to bring you the stories that you just won't hear anywhere else. I simply ask that you would keep giving so we can give back to the world through our Strategic Ministry partners and to you with inspiring programming on this radio station and over the Internet. The first and best way to reach us is through our website, compassionradio.com. You can also support us with a call at 1-800-868-2478. You can also text COMPASSION to 53445 to give right through your phone. You can also put a stamp on an envelope and mail your gift to EOBox2770, Orange, CA 92859. And know this, your gift is deeply appreciated. Thank you for loving us in this way. His mission is to come and heal the brokenhearted, bind up the wounded, set the captive free.

And then when he's ready for that to end, he'll let us know. Indeed. And that truth seems like a very severe mercy.

And yet it is where real freedom begins and we can find real joy. I think so. I think so as well. And Gracie was listening to a lot of gospel songs. She said, have you ever noticed how many of these talk about heaven?

Yeah. I'm drawn to songs that talk about sustenance. Because it's your experience. And I am praying for more people to experience the God who shows up. And because we're not going to really worship a God that we've not experienced, really.

We can talk about him. But how do you really worship something that you don't really believe is there or I've never experienced? You've got to experience something. And that's why I think people who have suffered, Peter, have a much deeper understanding of how deep and rich is the love of God.

Because they've seen that expressed and poured out into their cup when they needed it most. And they realize this is a God of mercy and love and sustenance and strength and presence. This is not a God of answering questions and setting all evils right when we want them to be set right.

He's not, as you said before, the cosmic concierge. God knows us. And he's so thrilled that we're in it. And he's so thrilled to be with us in it as well. But we so rarely give him permission to really be present right where it counts in the center of our pain.

Answering those questions that we keep asking ourselves about the whys and God responds. He always does respond to these things because he loves his children. But we don't always like his answers. But we always know that he loves us.

We don't doubt that until we actually let him close. You and Sandy and your family's been here to our place here in Montana a couple times here in the last couple of months. That's going to hopefully continue on now that you're a little closer to us. You can take a lot of pictures of where we live. And they are spectacular pictures. But it doesn't compare to just being in the place.

It just doesn't compare. We can show people a lot of pictures of Jesus, if you will, if the metaphor continues. But it doesn't compare to touching and being in the presence, understanding the deep relationship that we are called to with God. He's not interested in us taking pictures of him. He's interested in us just being in him.

And him being in us. And Christ in us, the hope of glory. For listeners of this program to keep in mind that you don't have to go and fabricate some kind of ministry. You don't have to go out and create something. It's going to flow from the Jesus that you're engaged with.

The one you know. People say, well, I don't have the gift of evangelism. Well, some people don't have the gift of singing, but I see them do that every week. You don't need some kind of oratorial skills to tell people about your children. Ask me about my children.

I don't need to do a sermon prep on that. I can tell you about my children. Because I know them.

And they're part of my life. And I think, why are we doing this as believers? So let us set the example so that we can go out into this world that is so crazy.

And there's so much rhetoric and vitriol. We don't have to agree on everything. We don't have to do that. This is not like the disciples in the room at Pentecost where they're all in one accord. We're not going to agree on all the things out there that are in this world. But what we can agree on is that we don't have to be anxious about anything. The peace of God, as is all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds to the day of Christ Jesus.

That we can agree on because he has promised us this. So when Gracie is dealing with these things, it's painful. It's hard.

And I'll leave you with this. Jesus said, Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. How do we mourn if we're so busy demanding that God fix this or we're raging or we're despairing? Mourning is different than just wailing and crying. There's a mourning which is an intentional place of looking at it and seeing it for what it really is. And we mourn over that and then we will be comforted. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. And so many of us are confusing mourning with raging out or despairing.

This is not what I wanted. Rage against the dying of the light. As far as I get it, from scripture, even David himself, who was a very passionate, over-the-top kind of guy, and probably bipolar, even he did not rage at God. But he understood lament, and he had a channel, he had a skill he used, and he poured all of himself into the thing he was able to do to express it, which happened to be music. And that was his channel to God, but it's not a defiant one.

I never see, when he's faced with truth and with the presence of God, did David ever stand up there and say, I'm shaking my fist at you, I dare you to do something about this. Something always in his heart crumbled and softened when God came close. I hope that, like I said, these are things that I don't own, but I am owning. More importantly, I think they're owning me. And these are things that I learned from watching Relentless Suffering. And when you deal with this for a lifetime, like Gracie and I have, you've got to find solid ground. And for us, this is what solid ground looks like.

And it's a very narrow lane, but it is a solid lane, in that I don't have to freak out. I don't have to despair and wail and flail around. I don't have to rage out. I can be still, settle my spirit down, as David did at Ziklag. Peter, I would normally ask you for something musical at the end of our conversation, because you have such a great gift of that. I'm going to simply ask you to play out a piece when we're through talking, so I can layer that underneath what we do here. So before we have you sit down and play us out with one of your beautiful worship songs, I'd like you to tell me, if you're praying for those who are experiencing suffering in ways they've never experienced before, they're newbies to this, whether it's through COVID or something else, some other kind of strain has come upon them this past couple of years that has been out of left field, as far as they're concerned, how would you pray over them? You know, sometimes I ask that myself. I don't know how to pray sometimes.

And I wrote out a thing called the Caregiver's Prayer. I'll sum it up this, that I'm not up to this task, and I would suggest to you that anyone who thinks that they are will find out eventually that they're not. But he is, and he can sustain in this, even with the outcomes that seem so horrific. I had a lady call into my show the other day, and she was struggling, and she reached out to me, and she was taking care of her parents with Alzheimer's, and she said that they both had sexually molested her as a child. Wow. And she's struggling with this. I'm not going to go in there into that level of trauma and be glib. I'm not going to do that.

That is unthinkable to me to go in there and somehow think, I could even offer this woman advice or anything, because I'm not going to do it. All I can do is point her to solid ground, which is the Savior who does understand these things, who recognizes how broken this is and has done something so magnificent on the cross that is redeeming this. And I take great comfort in knowing that that redemption works backwards all the way through to every piece of this brokenness, and he wipes away all of our tears.

We mourn over all these broken things. And so I would just pray for myself and for others that we learn to just be still. Lord, let me just be still.

Settle my heart down, because I don't know how to do it. When I am seeing the flailings around of myself or when I see Gracie in agony, sometimes I just hang my head in weariness. I don't even know how to pray. And the Spirit, the Scriptures teaches that the Spirit groans on our behalf, and sometimes that's all we can do is groan.

And so that's why I play the hymns that I play and the music that I play is because sometimes I don't have the words. One of the things about the Jewish world is when they have the sitting shiva. They just sit with you. They don't instigate a conversation when you're mourning over the loss of a loved one. And I think sometimes as Christians, we are so quick to rush in there and try to say something wise. Maybe we could just sit there. I don't know that that answers your question very well, but I'm not very good at coming up with a prayer because I don't know what to say sometimes.

Fair enough. I just sit with them. This rabbi told me, he said one of the things you do is you hold their hand in your hand, palm up, and you hold their hand, and then you put your other hand on top of that hand. And he said that is one of the most intimate, meaningful things you can do in times of grief and sorrow and loss. We touch each other, and we hold each other, and we don't castigate each other for grieving. We grieve with them.

And that's what I did with that lady who called in. I grieve with her, and I sit with her as she processes it out, and I point her to a place where there's solid ground. But I would never dream that I would even know what to say. I don't even know how to pray, but he does.

That's coming from somebody who's had 40 years of experience in that. I guess what I'm learning from what you said, Peter, is that the greatest prayer we have often, when we have no words for it and don't know how to get behind the curtain of that kind of grief, is simply to be present, because Jesus is present. And in doing that, sitting with people, holding their hands if we can, to be that kind of present is a prayer. It is inviting Jesus to be present. So if we have nothing we can say, to at least show up. When I was sick, naked, hungry, thirsty, in prison, he was pretty clear about that. It's the presence. There is a place of quiet rest near to the heart of God, a place where sin cannot molest near to the heart of God, as the hymn says.

That's the best I got. Well, Peter, we are praying that over you and Gracie, and I encourage our compassion-ready listeners to do the same. As you sit down and kind of play us out here on that worship piece, we're going to take a moment of silence ourselves just to listen and to worship, and to ask God, when we're facing the impossible and we don't know how to respond, or someone around us is suffering in ways we can't comprehend, that what we do next has eternal power if we're willing to be present.

Think about those thoughts, friends, as Peter's playing for you. Peter Rosenberger of Montana and, of course, his incredible ministry, Hope for the Caregiver, heard nationally on Saturdays across many Christian stations. Thank you for sharing a bit more about your heart, because I think every time we peel away the onion here, we get down to something that's even more tender and more important every time, and I appreciate your friendship deeply. We are praying God's cover and his hands holding yours through the next struggles you and Gracie will face and the challenges that you're going to march headlong into and trust God to cover you. So thank you again for sharing your story. Well, thank you. You're quite welcome. On that hymn, filled with thy Spirit, till all shall see, Christ only always living in me.

Have that on label. Such a great gift these hymn writers have given to the church, and so when we don't know what to pray, pick up the hymnal. Thanks again, friend. Thank you. When you pray about where to invest in the kingdom of God around the world, thank you for including us. We can't do this work without you, and we can't introduce you to the inspiring stories of the kingdom if you don't send us. Simply go to our website, compassionradio.com. Our toll-free number is man during business hours Pacific time at 1-800-868-2478. If you get voicemail, just leave a full message, and we will call you back as soon as the office is open. You can also write us and send your gift by mail to Compassion Radio, P.O.

Box 2770, Orange, CA 92859. I'm Bram Floria. Join us for the next Compassion Radio or online at compassionradio.com. God bless you, friends. Some of you know the remarkable story of Peter's wife, Gracie. And recently, Peter talked to Gracie about all the wonderful things that have emerged from her difficult journey. Take a listen. Gracie, when you envisioned doing a prosthetic limb outreach, did you ever think that inmates would help you do that?

Not in a million years. When you go to the facility run by CoreCivic and you see the faces of these inmates that are working on prosthetic limbs that you have helped collect from all over the country, that you put out the plea for, and they're disassembling. You see all these legs, like what you have, your own prosthetic legs. And arms, Sue.

And arms. When you see all this, what does that do to you? Makes me cry. Because I see the smiles on their faces, and I know what it is to be locked someplace where you can't get out without somebody else allowing you to get out.

Of course, being in the hospital so much and so long. These men are so glad that they get to be doing, as one band said, something good finally with my hands. Did you know before you became an amputee that parts of prosthetic limbs could be recycled? No, I had no idea.

I thought of peg leg, I thought of wooden legs, I never thought of titanium and carbon legs and flex feet and sea legs and all that. I never thought about that. As you watch these inmates participate in something like this, knowing that they're helping other people now walk, they're providing the means for these supplies to get over there, what does that do to you, just on a heart level? I wish I could explain to the world what I see in there. And I wish that I could be able to go and say, this guy right here, he needs to go to Africa with us. I never not feel that way.

Every time, you know, you always make me have to leave, I don't want to leave them. I feel like I'm at home with them and I feel like that we have a common bond that I would have never expected that only God could put together. Now that you've had an experience with it, what do you think of the faith-based programs that CoreCivic offers? I think they're just absolutely awesome and I think every prison out there should have faith-based programs like this because the return rate of the men that are involved in this particular faith-based program and other ones like it, but I know about this one, is just an amazingly low rate compared to those who don't have them.

And I think that that says so much. That doesn't have anything to do with me, it just has something to do with God using somebody broken to help other broken people. If people want to donate a used prosthetic limb, whether from a loved one who passed away or somebody who outgrew them, you've donated some of your own for them to do. How do they do that? Where do they find them? Oh, please go to standingwithhope.com slash recycle. Standingwithhope.com slash recycle. Thanks, Gracie.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-19 20:58:08 / 2023-08-19 21:21:44 / 24

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