Although I gave this testimony nearly four months ago at the first Sunday of Advent evening service at Immanuel Christian Reformed Church, I thought I would post it as a statement of faith and a very necessary reminder that my future is in God's hands. Remembering what he has already done in my life helps drive self-pity, fear, and hopelessness away.
Testimony of Suzanne den Boer November 27, 2005
“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:1-5
That phrase “redeems your life from the pit” has a special significance to me. I know what it is like to be in a deep, dark pit and believe yourself utterly separated from God. But thankfully I also know about God’s forgiveness, healing, redemption, and love.
On May 31st, 1998 I stood before this congregation and made my public profession of faith. On that occasion I gave my testimony of how God had been with me through an extremely difficult time in my life when I was hospitalized with a severe depression. While at one point I literally believed myself in hell and was completely catatonic, there in the hospital God showed me his love in a real way. In my hospital bed I sang “Jesus loves me” and really knew in my heart that he did. During that testimony at my profession of faith, I also thanked the congregation of Immanuel for their incredible love, care, prayers, and support during this difficult time.
So why I am standing here again seven years later, having recently been readmitted to membership? I guess because my journey of faith and healing didn’t end on that day, but has continued with a few twists and turns and detours. I went through a period when I was very angry with God and doubted my faith and that I was even a “real Christian.” I didn’t think I could change, and, what is more, I didn’t want to. I felt sorry for myself and wondered what the point of my life was. If you ask my parents and some of my friends, you will be told that this period lasted for a long time---too long for some of them. Also at this time I was no longer at Immanuel, as soon after my profession of faith, I formally resigned my membership and left with my family. We attended a charismatic church that emphasised faith, healing, and the Holy Spirit. I did correspondence courses for a year, worked for a year at a factory, and then started my schooling at Redeemer College, still struggling in the basic question of “am I a real Christian?” My family eventually left the church we had been attending about a year after the founding pastor resigned. My parents started attending Flamborough Christian Fellowship where they still are today and I attended with them. There were a lot of good things about this church including Spirit-led prayer and ministry that helped me on my road to healing, but I didn’t feel completely at home there.
I started attending services at Immanuel in my fourth year at Redeemer and this past Spring I participated in the 40 Days of Purpose. This study helped me see God had created me for a purpose to love him, belong to his family, become like Christ, serve God, and be his hands and feet to a broken world and gave me hope that God would indeed complete the good work he began in me. I felt convicted that I should commit to a church family rather than casually attend church services, so this fall I started the process of again becoming a member at Immanuel. God recently confirmed to me that he is healing me in a deeper way in my heart, emotions, and mind and that I need to get my dream back, the one he gave me that I thought was lost forever. I am not at the end of my journey, but God has brought me this far and given me hope and a future. None of my pain will be wasted by God, but he is working all things for my good. I thank God for his forgiveness bought at a great price, his healing, his redemption, and his love and I know that as God helps me to become all that he is calling me to be and helps me grow in love and compassion, he will satisfy my desires with good things.