We live in a world that celebrates success, achievement and strength. Crowds flock to watch or hear about the fastest, strongest, most beautiful and accomplished men and women of the world. However, there is another deeper and more lasting perspective.
I was recently at a conference for Christian doctors and had the unexpected privilege of meeting Rebekah Domer. She is the author of the book, “Broken but Blessed: Journeying from Pain to Peace with Unlikely Guides.”
Rebekah is a hospice chaplain who currently works at St. Michael’s Hospice in East Sussex. She is a part of the Bruderhof which is a church whose members live in intentional community, seeking to follow Jesus’ command to love God and neighbour. Like the early disciples described in the New Testament, they share all their possessions, work and worship together so as to put their beliefs into practice in their daily lives.
On the podcast Rebekah opens up for us answers to the timeless question of why does a loving God allow us to suffer. She takes the Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and in her book unpacks what that looks like in different people’s lives.
In our conversation we learn:
- How Rebekah was an accomplished medical laboratory technician who had studied at Harvard and been to Nigeria to set up a tropical laboratory. Then at the age of 28 she suddenly developed a paralysis of her left leg that led to her having a permanent disability and being in constant pain.
- From the life of her father who was a high ranking naval officer in World War 2. He was someone who was very knowledgeable on history and world affairs, but at the age of 70 developed Alzheimer’s Disease. Rebekah describes to us how he allowed his memory loss to transform him into a more loving and caring person.
- About Rebekah’s sister Louisa who had Down syndrome and because of a heart condition had 13 years of extreme physical suffering. However, Louisa was able to say as she came to the end of her days, “I am for life!” and “My task is to bring joy!”
From Rebekah’s book:
“The Beatitudes say that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are poor in spirit and know their need for God. Louisa possessed these qualities naturally and radiated Christ unawares. She showed me how to live, through love that suffers and is kind….
Modern society touts a different Gospel: Blessed are you who achieve. Blessed are the prosperous, the politically successful, the powerful. Blessed are you who are beautiful and athletic. Blessed are those who win scholarships to prestigious universities.
Most of us strive for perfection. But wha of people like Louisa? why do they exist? Vulnerable and dependent, people with Down syndrome are easily dismissed as “defective” and often aborted. And yet Louisa and the many like her are truly our teachers – for didn’t Jesus admonish us to ‘change and become like little children?”
- What can we learn about what Jesus means to become like little children to enter the kingdom of God?
- When Jesus speaks of treasures in heaven how this points to encounters with others, and especially those who are suffering.
This is just a taste of our rich and powerful conversation! Do join us to learn more. A link to the book is below.
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