When Beth Luthy was 19 years old, she gave birth to a son whose bile ducts were damaged. At 8 and 9 weeks of age, baby Michael had to undergo surgeries, and he received a miraculous liver transplant at only 9 months old. A year later, he went into a coma after a severe infection rampaged through his body. For six months, Michael’s life was in grave peril. His doctors finally determined that the only way to sustain him was on a heart and lung bypass machine that required he have another surgery.
During the two years of experiencing miracle after miracle in the midst of their struggle, Luthy recognized many moments as a manifestation that “God is good.”
“It was a tough time, but I could also see that during that time my family was blessed on many occasions,” she said.
However, at the crossroads of life and death, Luthy’s husband administered a blessing to Michael and said, “If it is Heavenly Father’s will that you return to him at this time, know that we will always love you. … And we will, at some point, be together again as family.”
Michael ended up stabilizing before the surgery and is now a healthy, 30-year-old father and husband. “It was another miracle, and God was good,” Luthy said.
But the questions remains: If Michael had died instead, would that have meant God was missing, didn’t care or was not good?
Luthy addressed this concern and the purpose of suffering in her campus devotional on Tuesday, which was held in the de Jong Concert Hall.
Reminding the audience that Heavenly Father wants the final destination for his children to be an exalted state like his own, Luthy explained that in order to reach that destination, we must learn to become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ.
“There is a price to be paid in order to become intimately acquainted with our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” she said. Christ suffered immeasurably in the Garden of Gethsemane, and to become like him, we too must descend from the magnificent view from the top of a mountain into “the valley of the shadow of death.”
Psalms 104:10 reads: “He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.”
“Think about it,” Luthy said. “The life-sustaining water is NOT found on the mountaintop. It is found in the valley.”
Not only can we become intimately acquainted with the suffering Christ experienced and the nourishment he can provide, but as those who have suffered, we can also show compassion to others of God’s children.
“Essentially,” Luthy said, “our loving Heavenly Father uses times of suffering to transform us into an instrument in His hands, armed with a newly developed nobility of spirit, who is compelled to help relieve the suffering of his children.”
Viktor Frankl said, “What is to give light must (first) endure burning.” As we are put through the refiner’s fire, we are reshaped into people who are better and stronger than we could have possibly imagined.
“Sometimes what (God) sees as our final destination isn’t the same as what we have in mind, … but I testify of our Heavenly Father’s goodness,” Luthy said.
The next devotional is scheduled June 26 at 11 a.m. in the de Jong Concert Hall. It will be given by Steven Shumway, a professor of engineering and technology.