Mercy and Gracy

Have you ever heard a testimony? It’s a silly question, because I know you have. Someone has told you about something wonderful that has happened in their lives, or someone has told you about their experience with a particular business, or organization. “Testimony” does not have to be faith-related, does not have to be about a “conversion experience” when your whole life turned around.

The scripture texts from this last Sunday were stories of testimony. In Luke we hear about a shepherd who finds a lost sheep and a woman who finds a lost coin, and they both rejoice and call their friends together for a party to celebrate. They give their testimonies of joy – I have experienced something wonderful!, they say. Perhaps it was a small thing. But that small thing made a difference to them. And I bet their joy made a difference to the others who heard it, too. In 1 Timothy, we have another testimony, this one in a more familiar format of a conversion experience – I was the worst of sinners, “Paul” writes, and then God gave me mercy and grace. Now, I write to you to share my joy, share my experience, so that you might benefit from it, as well.

These testimonies are important not just because of the event that happened, but because those events were shared with others.

For today’s newsletter, one of our folks has her own testimony to share. Thank you, Carolyn, for bravely sharing your story! And thank you for allowing us into your journey these past years.

May God’s mercy and grace be with you all, as you look for the testimonies that you might be able to share with the world.

~Pastor Katherine

Testimony of Mercy and Grace by Carolyn McLean

In her sermon this past Sunday, Pastor Katherine talked about our personal testimonies and how we needed to share them with each other.  She even gave us a few minutes to quietly think about our story and how God has touched our lives.  I knew at that moment that I had to share this testimony.

A little more than ten years ago I learned that I had been infected with the Hepatitis C virus, possibly from a blood transfusion many years ago.  It had lain dormant in my body for a long time and then suddenly made itself known during a routine blood test.  I learned that my liver had moderate damage and that I needed treatment.   Many of you at First Christian walked this journey with me.  You know how I began treatment three different times, but each time became too ill to finish.  Each time it seemed the treatment was working at first, but then my viral count would rise again and I would be back to where I was before I started.  Before my very first treatment began as I was praying, God spoke to me through scripture.  John 11:4 says, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”  So… I was fortified with God’s word and I believed healing was on the way!  But it didn’t work!!  It was like a kick in the stomach and I wondered if I had heard God correctly.  After going to MUSC and updating my treatment plan, another round started.  I was sure this time God was going to heal me.  Well, after twelve more weeks of nausea, headaches, fever, anemia and severe fatigue, I was sure the meds were working and I was being healed.  Then came the dreaded words, “You have to stop treatment.  It is not working and you are too ill.”  Third round, different drug, high hopes, failure. 

 Through it all this verse of scripture never left my mind and heart.  Prayers from Maine to Florida, from Missouri and Oregon and Texas, and from the Bahamas were being lifted for me.  I felt God’s mercy and grace surrounding me when I could not lift my head from my bed.  You were God’s hands and feet lifting me up and holding my hand.   When I was too weak to pray, or even to hope, my family and you did that for me.

 And now, in fact just this past Thursday, I received the final results of my fourth treatment.  My viral count is undetectable and my liver enzymes are normal.  I have been cured!!   “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

 My heart is full, I am so blessed, and I praise God for giving me everything I needed to endure the last ten years.  Many times I wanted to give up, but I somehow knew that God would never let go of me.  I give God the glory for helping me to persevere and keep on believing that good can come out of pain and suffering.   I have learned many lessons about humility, fear, surrender, and letting go and letting God. Thanks be to God!!!!