Thursday, August 30, 2012

Light in the Darkness


All of us have faced an occasional difficulty. But so far, 2012 has delivered five different crises to Dr. Greg Sutherland. 

“I’ve been thinking about it. Since January, I’ve experienced at least five deaths. Some have been physical deaths; I’ve lost people I deeply loved. One represents the end of a thirty-year relationship. One represents my approaching retirement from clinical practice. Though I plan to be in the office for quite a while yet, I'm beginning to see that I won’t work here full-time forever.”

Another death, a physical death, occurred only weeks ago.

“The problem with crisis is that you usually don’t have time to think about it ahead of time,” Greg said in a recent interview. “You simply have to hold on, knowing that it will eventually pass. It isn’t ‘if’ it will end, it’s ‘when’ it ends.”

Though he’s experienced a difficult year, Greg has gathered some treasures along the way. “In every death I’ve experienced a kind of resurrection,” he says. Greg has watched as people take on new and more important roles in the face of tragedy. “My son-in-law became a spiritual leader in a whole new way as his father was dying. He took the night shift with his father, praying with him, holding his hand, and speaking words of comfort and encouragement even when his father could no longer respond.”

In the face of grief, Greg has seen new passions ignited. “When Jesus is involved, even the darkest moments bring new life.” 

Though Dr. Greg isn’t looking for difficulty, it’s easy to see that he’s committed to hang on to Christ in the midst of them. “I refuse to let my responses be determined by what happens to me, or to those I love.” It isn’t always easy; this year, it’s been especially difficult. But as a servant of Christ, it’s the only way.

How about you? Eventually, all of us will experience calamity. A house burns. A child passes. A doctor gives a dreaded diagnosis. When you face crisis, what do you do to weather the storm? Can you share your advice?

 Dr. Greg Sutherland, DDS, MS
With Bette Nordberg


  1. In any storm big or small, there is only one answer- Jesus. I look to Him for peace and comfort because I know I can have that in Him. We can't let the circumstances around us change us. Jesus didn't do that. But we can call on Him to help us get through any test or trial.

  2. MD, no question, Jesus is the answer. Sometimes though, in the darkest places, folks can't figure out how to "put feet" on this advice. Tell me more! Do you listen to music? Soak in quality friendships? Spend time in prayer? What action do you take to find that peace? When you are too weak to stand, how do you lean into Jesus?

  3. In 2006 my aunt passed away two weeks before moving here to attend Seminary and exactly 6 months later my mom passed, April 13, 2007. This was not easy for me. I had so many emotions going on because I got saved in Aug 2002, married 2006 and we answered the call to the ministry by coming to WA to attend Seminary. I requested prayer for my mom from my church family here and from others. I prayed and prayed and prayed for a healing. God had already warned me that ...James 4:14 ".....For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." That scripture kept coming and coming and I knew that God was calling my mom home. We put her in hospice; I flew back to NC and stayed every night with her. She wasn't able to talk by the time I had gotten there. She did recognize me. I immediately called my boys because, you see, my mom raised them while I served in the military until she got sick. I wanted her to hear their voice and for them to tell her that they loved her. She recognized their voice. I prayed again and asked God to allow me the chance to talk to her one more time. We got her in a wheelchair and took her out to get fresh air. God had answered my prayer. I was able to talk to her and she talked back to me. She told me she wanted some chicken. I told her I loved her and appreciated everything that she has ever done for me. She told me she loved me too. The following day she wasn't able to talk anymore. **Bare with me on what I share the next few lines because I am trying to explain it the best way possible** All I know is what I experienced with my own two eyes. My mom would sit up on the bed and look as if someone called her name and acted like she was trying to get up to go in that direction. It was like she was gazing as if looking through a crowd. I begin to talk to her. I wanted to make sure she was still in her frame of mind, so I asked her some questions yes or no and she answered by nodding correctly. I knew she was still comprehending things. I begin to ask her other questions like do you see somebody, is somebody calling you, and so forth. She nodded yes. Time come for me to come back to WA. All three of my sisters and both of my brothers were still there with her. I got on my flight and landed in Seattle and as soon as I got my luggage my sister called and said my mom was barely breathing. Later on that day around supper time I got the call that she passed. I caught another flight back to NC. It's easy for someone to say Jesus is right there for you and trust God. This is true, but at the time I didn't dismiss what I was told, it's just on the inside I was like I don't want to hear that. The reason I say this was I had all these mixed emotions going on because I wanted to talk to my mom, I wanted to hug her some more, I just wanted her there. The enemy tried to get me to think if I hadn't come to WA then my mom would still be alive. I knew this was a lie. If I hadn't come to WA, she would have still went to be with her Maker. When it is your time to go there is nothing you can do about it. I knew I was where God wanted me to be. I didn't feel like praying but I prayed anyway. I said God, I know my mom is with you now and I am getting ready to go to the funeral; God I don't want to hear Amazing Grace or His Eye Is on the Sparrow. I don't want it to be sad music.

  4. **Continuation from previous**
    You see my mom always told us that one day she was going to be with her Jesus and she didn't want us boo-hooing and acting the fool when she gone. At the funeral, they sang I'll Fly away and I believe He Set Me Free. I praised God and in that very moment I knew that everything was going to be alright. It is at that time when we don't feel like praying and reading our bible, it is the time to do it the more. A lot of the questions in my head were resolved because I thought about how God warned me about what was to come and every prayer I prayed He answered except the one for healing my mom. It was her time to go. I understood that. God was there every step of the way and it was through the continual prayer, bible reading, and faith that helped me get through it. It was my friends and church family and my family that helped. I knew that people were praying for me every step of the way. Whenever someone told me it was going to be alright, I knew it was going to be alright. I have all of the wonderful memories that I can visit from time to time. It's okay to cry and to hurt because that is just part of the process, but through it all the Potter's hand will begin to put you back together.I listened to music, went to church, read my bible, prayed. When you think you are too weak to stand and it seems as if you don't kno.w how you will get through it, God will help you. He is still there just trust and believe.

  5. Most of the time I just talk to Him and tell Him how I'm feeling or what I'm going through (as if He doesn't already know!). Sometimes I put on some worship music and just let the words minister to my spirit or sometimes I go to a quality friend for advice- one who will give me Godly advice, not worldly advice :-) Spending time in His word will help a lot too! I have done all of these at different times and in different situations.

  6. Princess, THANK YOU for your moving response to our question! You've been through a great loss, and I just want to tell you how sorry I am that your Mom passed away... However, your words will greatly encourage others who are experiencing your pain. It's so true. We don't always get what we want when we pray. Yet, Jesus promises to be with us in the midst of our pain, doesn't he? You have seen and felt that with your own eyes. How he does that is often a mystery, and yet for every believer, He finds a way to speak to them and to comfort them in the midst of pain. Thank you for sharing!

  7. MD, music is a great comfort to me as well! And I know that God has given us godly friends to help us through. Proverbs says, "A wise man has many advisors!" You are living proof!