From Streams in the Desert:
There he tested them. (Exodus 15:25)
I once visited the testing room of a large steel mill. I was surrounded by instruments and equipment that tested pieces of steel to their limits and measured their breaking point. Some pieces had been twisted until they broke, and then were labeled with the level of pressure they could withstand. Some had been stretched to their breaking point, with their level of strength also noted. Others had been compressed to their crushing point and measured. Because of the testing, the manager of the mill knew exactly how much stress and strain each piece of steel could endure if it was used to build a ship, building, or bridge.
It is often much the same with God's children. He does not want us to be like fragile vases of glass or porcelain. He wants us to be like these toughened pieces of steel, able to endure twisting and crushing pressure to the utmost without collapse.
God does not want us to be like greenhouse plants, which are sheltered from rough weather, but like storm-beaten oaks; not like sand dunes that are driven back and forth by every gust of wind but like granite mountains that withstand the fiercest storms. Yet to accomplish this, He must take us into His testing room of suffering. And many of us need no other argument than our own experiences to prove that suffering is indeed God's testing room of faith.
It is quite easy for us to talk and to theorize about faith, but God often puts us into His crucible of affliction to test the purity of our gold and to separate the dross from the metal. How happy we are if the hurricanes that blow across life's raging sea have the effect of making Jesus more precious to us! It is better to weather the storm with Christ than to sail smooth waters without Him.
I know I was tested, but I wonder if Keith was tested too. I wonder if there were marked times that his body was failing and his sheer will to live, along with the help of the Lord, kept him alive. Part of me thinks that even when Keith was totally unresponsive that we were still working as a team. I feel that we were both on a journey and that the Lord took us - or brought us - to a place where we were both ready to be released from it.
I have heard about the joy of suffering, and I wonder if the person who coined the phrase truly suffered - or if they just thought they had suffered. Because to me, as one who has suffered, there is not a joy of suffering. I believe that joy can be found while suffering because I experienced true joy while suffering, and this was a joy given only by the Lord. I felt this joy in the midst of my pain, this honest, pure feeling of joy, but I would never say that I experienced the joy of suffering. Suffering does not equal joy to me.
Regardless, Keith and I suffered and I can only hope that we suffered well. If I had to lay us to rest, I would say the following:
Keith and Judy Beasley
December 1999 - August 2010
Together as one July 24, 2004 - August 28, 2010
We loved each other and lived well.
We were blessed; we were tested.
We suffered; we were released.
And because of the Lord's love for us,
We will see each other again.