The Fruit of Suffering
At our Johannesburg Jews for Jesus Friday night fellowship we were studying the book of Job. It is not easy to accept the fact that suffering could be a gift from God, and even a blessing, but something special happened at the meeting that clearly brought this lesson home to me.
I had asked a young Jewish believer to give her story that particular night because she had come to know the Messiah directly through suffering. A virus early in her teens had rendered it impossible for her to walk. Her doctors could not help her, and she was bedridden for more than a year. She fell behind in her schooling and social life and became depressed. Her parents put her on a restrictive diet and brought her to specialists, and even spiritual healers, but nothing helped.
Then she met a physiotherapist who guided her in the right direction. The physiotherapist told her that Jesus was the Messiah and that he could be her physician both physically and spiritually. A few months later the girl gave her life to Jesus, and her body also began to be healed.
Although her parents were glad that she was on her feet again, they were not pleased with her new-found faith. It seemed to the girl that they would have been happier if she had followed the ways of those "spiritual" healers. Nevertheless, her parents’ disapproval did not deter her from following Christ.
When she came to the fellowship that Friday night, her mother accompanied her armed with a tape recorder. As the girl stood up and with conviction related her experience and the truth of Jesus, I felt nervous that the mother was there seeking ammunition to attack her daughter’s faith. I was glad to find out I had been wrong!
After her daughter’s story the mother left her tape recorder on during the Bible study. She listened intently as the Word of God described how even the worst situations can be worked out to his glory. She had thought that her daughter’s faith in Jesus was only a way of grasping for any solution to her problems and need for immediate peace of mind. Now she was beginning to see it was deeper than that.
I talked to the mother after the program, and she was curious to know more about Jews believing in Jesus. After half an hour she had to leave, but she did so with some new information. I sent some literature to her later, and I saw her again at our Jews for Jesus Passover banquet with her daughter. Once again she came to me after the presentation and told me she was discovering some new ideas about Jesus. She had read all the literature I had sent her and was hungry for more information. I explained the gospel again. She mulled it over and said, "1 guess I am a sinner."
She left that night still not having received God’s plan of redemption, but I am praying that she will have the strength to open her heart to Yeshua. Her husband is set against faith in Jesus and questions her whenever she attends a Christian meeting with her daughter. She tells him evasively that she is going to a "lecture," but she knows that if she makes a decision for Christ she will need to be totally honest and tell him what kind of "lectures" they are.
Meanwhile, the daughter is overjoyed at her mother’s new openness. The suffering that brought her to Christ has now begun to introduce her family to the gospel. She does not curse God for her suffering, but thanks him. As with Job, the aftermath of her ordeal has found her with far more riches than she had before.
Laura Barron is a missionary at the Toronto branch of Jews for Jesus. Along with her husband Andrew, who heads up the Jews for Jesus work in Canada, Laura pioneered the South African ministry of Jews for Jesus. She is a fluent Hebrew speaker and regularly takes part in the organization’s outreach ministry in Israel. Laura and Andrew have three children: Rafael, Ketzia and Simona.