Suffering and the Sovereignty of God in the Life of Mary Sue Price

Today we buried my “Mamaw” Mary. Mary Sue Price died Monday evening at the age of 85 years of age. Her life was marked by suffering. She had several courageous and successful bouts with cancer before finally succumbing to the ravages of the disease on Monday. Additionally, she had experienced the pain of seeing countless family members die from cancer, including her own son a couple of years ago. I remember hearing her recount her families’ history with cancer to a nurse in the hospital a few weeks ago. It was a lengthy list of family members who had been inflicted with the deadly disease. I remember being struck then by how much pain she had experienced in her life! But she did not let it make her bitter, she continued to trust in the purpose of God in her life. Her one prayer request to me was that she might have strong faith during this last great trial of her life.

One interesting fact about my “Mamaw” Mary is that she wasn’t “really” my grandmother, she was my aunt. She took my mother and her little brother in to live with them when my mom was eleven and her little brother was a one year old baby. She did this because their mother (and Mary’s sister) died prematurely from cancer at that time. She raised my mom, Jan, and Phil as her own children (though she already had two children of her own: the late Willard Price and Elona Powers). She was the only mother that Phil ever knew and the only grandmother on my mom’s side that me, Jeremy and our sister Elizabeth ever knew.

As I thought about her self-sacrificial choice to take in my mom and uncle, I was reminded of the sovereignty of God. Although, Mamaw Mary’s life was a life characterized by suffering, it was also one marked by the sovereignty of God. Had my mom not moved from the Athens, TN area to Lenoir City, TN, she would never have met my dad, Garry. If Jan and Garry never met (you can do the math at home), I wouldn’t be here! And we all know what a poorer place the world would be! Jeremy wouldn’t be here either (not quite as tragic). Neither would my sister, Elizabeth! Our combined nine children, likewise, would not exist. My uncle Phil would not have met Renee and their children, Oran and Delanie, would not exist. In short, the world would be a different place. You might think it would be a better place, but in God’s sovereignty He chose for this world, exactly the way it is, to exist. I’m glad he did!

I can imagine that at another funeral about forty-five years ago, many were wondering about the sovereignty of God. They may have questioned how a loving and sovereign God could take away a mother from an eleven-year-old daugher and baby son. Looking back after forty-five years, we can see a little more (but not all) about what God was doing. It is my belief that in eternity, in a similar way, all human suffering in this world will be understood as part of God’s good and sovereign plan.

One text of Scripture combines the themes of human suffering and the sovereignty of God. It is Romans 8:18-28.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (19) For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. (20) For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; (21) because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (22) For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (23) Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. (24) For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? (25) But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (26) Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[2] with groanings which cannot be uttered. (27) Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (28) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

To God Alone Be The Glory,

6 comments

  1. THANKS, STEVE, FOR THE KIND WORDS IN YOUR BLOG AND AT THE FUNERAL.

    JEREMY, ALSO THANKS FOR YOUR KIND WORDS AS WELL, AT THE FUNERAL.

    MAMA

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