The story of a house: one person’s redemptive suffering is another’s second chance

[ 7 ] August 16, AD 2012 |

Our personal crosses are curious things.  Every good Christian knows that to follow Christ we must first take up our cross.  And every good Christian, upon deciding to truly follow Christ, agrees that they will do so.  “Thy will be done,” we pray, while in the background of our minds and hearts we’re hoping it won’t be too painful.  We trust that God will not give us anything bigger than we can handle and, amazingly, many of us find that when we embrace the cross Our Lord gives us the yoke ends up being easy, the burden is truly light.  You are still carrying a cross – big, heavy, hard – and if we all stood back and looked at it we would agree that it is too much for you to bear.  But when you get under it and hoist it up you find that you can do it.  You discover that it fits you well.  It is very, very hard but at the same time it isn’t.

This mysterious sweetness comes not because we know that the burden was given  for a reason but because armed with that knowledge, we join our suffering with Christ’s on the cross.  Our pain then means something.  Or, as John Paul the Great wrote in On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering, “Every man has his own share in the Redemption… In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption.  Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ.”

We can trust in God’s plan and His timing but that doesn’t mean that, this side of Heaven, any of it will ever make any sense.  Take for example my friends Jude and Alisha.  Three and a half years ago they put their Midwestern house on the market and moved back to the South they were raised in.  The Midwestern house was in a good neighborhood, it was cute, and it was in a town that was not badly hit by the recession.  But for three and a half years the house sat on the market.  Financially it was a huge hit – they were paying for the vacant house and rent for their new place.  Over the years there were a slew of repairs they had to pay for:  a furnace, a mice infestation, a dishwasher.  As Alisha said, “we were trying to be ethical to pay the people we said we’d pay.”   In the end it depleted their savings and they were scraping by, living paycheck to paycheck with two little girls to feed.

They prayed.  Novenas, St. Joseph statues, prayer chains – they tried it all.  They wondered if they were earning time out of purgatory.  At times they were angry with God; they were prepared to give even more, to lower the price and bring money to the closing, but  He still wasn’t bringing a buyer to them.

Three and a half years.  They wondered WHY but settled to know that they needed to be faithful to God, to continue to carry their cross, and to be grateful that it was just a house not an ill child or a crumbling marriage.

Three and a half years.  It was hard.

And then one day last month they heard from their bank that there was an interested buyer and if they could close on the house by August 7th the bank wouldn’t foreclose.  On August 6th Jude and Alisha finally sold their house.  And two weeks later they got this email from the new owner:

“Jude and Alisha,

Congrats on selling your house…and congrats to me on my very first home! Myself, my family and numerous friends have all been praying along side of you that this house would sell and I would be the buyer. From what I’ve read, you have [had] this burden on you for 3.5 years and wondered what God was teaching you over this time. I can’t exactly say what He had in mind for you but for me, He had my timing in mind. I am a 28 year old single, divorced mom of two wonderful kids and a survivor of [a] 5 year domestically violent marriage. My credit was destroyed by my ex and I walked away 2.5 years ago with $100 to my name. I moved back home to start over. Never did I picture myself in a position to buy a house 2.5 years later. As selfish as it may sound, I am thankful for your struggle. Because of your struggle my kids and I can start a new chapter in our lives, which we are so ever grateful for. I impatiently waited 8 months to get this house. That is nothing in comparison to your 3.5 year wait. What I do know is that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” – Romans 8:28

On Monday Aug 6, 2012 at 12pm, all things did work together for both of our families. Mine started a new chapter and yours finally, after a long wait, closed one. I’m happy for you guys and I wish you all the best!!Becky”

Alisha told me, “I never questioned that God had perfect timing…  This reaffirmed that He sees a much bigger picture.”  Because of the Body of Christ, “our pain is everyone’s pain, and the goodness and graces can also be shared. Now we see that the bulk of our suffering and the prayers of others were for her.  Our suffering didn’t get us anything better – we’ve lost a lot of money through the house.  The redemption that came was for her.  But her blessings are our blessings, too.  I feel blessed.”

Like I said, our personal crosses are curious things.

 

You can read more about Jude and Alisha at their blog, Those Landrys.

Image credit: Come Thou Font print, Jude Landry.

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Category: Life, Prayer

About the Author ()

Bonnie Engstrom is a cradle Catholic and stay-at-home mom. She married her dashing husband in 2006 and they now have five children: one in Heaven and four more wandering around their house, probably eating pretzels found under the couch. Bonnie lives in central Illinois and gets excited about baking, music, film adaptations of Jane Austen books, and the Chicago Bears. She was a cofounder of The Behold Conference and she blogs at A Knotted Life.
  • http://www.noweternityandbetween.blogspot.com Lianna

    Yes, He sees the big picture! That’s the hardest thing for us, I think, the inability to see beyond the cross to the redemption. And yes, others blessings are ours too! We help each other carry our crosses and celebrate each other’s blessings too!

  • http://thoselandrys.blogspot.com/ Alisha

    Thank you so very much, Bonnie!

  • Heather

    Beautiful post Bonnie. Very great story that reminds us all that there is a bigger plan/purpose.

  • Elizabeth Hoxie

    What a great story…and a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing!

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  • Eileen

    We are each characters in a continuing story. With so may characters across the universe, across time, we have no way to know where we fit in the story at any given time. I hope it all gets revealed at the end.

  • http://universalcoolness.blogspot.com/ Rachael

    My parents had their house on the market for a year before it was sold and they were finally able to move closer to their adult children in a different city. Not as bad as 3.5, but the divine timing was evident in that they were then able to buy a house that was simply made for them.