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A Portrait of Gospel-Shaped Suffering

June 30, 2011

Steve Allen and I grew up together.  We actually came to faith together back in 1996.  We were in each other’s weddings two weeks apart.  We both ended up in vocational ministry–I, a pastor at Westgate Church in Massachusetts; Steve, the RUF campus minister at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Few people have ministered as deeply into my life as Steve.  And part of his ministry is the love that he and his wife Jen have for their children, in particular their daughter Amelia.

When Steve was in seminary at Covenant in St. Louis, we lived in Wheaton and took a weekend to visit them.  Amelia was about three months old at the time, and had a cough that had lingered for around a month.  About a week later she was diagnosed with Leukemia.  Four rounds of chemo killed the cancer; she is still in remission today.  But during that fourth round a virus settled in her brain and destroyed Steve and Jen’s dreams of a so-called normal life.   I still weep writing this for the pain they have gone through ever since.

And yet Steve and Jen are both a portrait of gospel-shaped suffering to me.  The gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection doesn’t make the pain they feel any less real, but it does give them both perspective and hope.  Read Jen’s reflections on a recent setback in their daughter’s care.  And please pray for Amelia.

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