By Bindu Adai Mathew
Today the world lost an amazing person – Susan (Sue) Varghese Thomas – after nearly a 10 month battle with cancer. She had a bright smile, endless optimism, a creative energy, and a beautiful heart. In many ways, I considered her a kindred spirit because like me, she was an aspiring writer. We shared similar struggles with getting published along with the ups and downs of carving a legitimate career out of our passion for writing. She was Indian and Malayalee like me, and most importantly, she was a sister in Christ.
But I never met Sue. In person, that is. It was a close friend we had in common, Suja Jacob, who brought us together. Because of our shared love of writing, Suja always told us about each other. So when Sue published her book, The World from My Fire Escape, I felt personally invested in her success as a writer. I followed her on her blog, and when Facebook became popular, we also became Facebook friends.
It was through Suja that I first learned Sue had cancer. It was also through Suja that I learned that Sue’s cancer had worsened when she called me a week ago after seeing Sue. She was in tears after seeing Sue’s condition.
“I really thought God would have healed her,” Suja said, her voice and spirit broken with pain. “I don’t even know how to pray. Do I pray for God to take her so she’s no longer in pain? Or do I pray for her to be healed? Of course, I want her to be healed, but I don’t want to see her suffer like this.”
“You definitely pray for her utter and complete healing, “ I encouraged her, my voice strong with conviction. “With her body wracked in pain, you must stand in the gap and believe for her. You believe God, despite Sue’s condition, can and is willing to heal her. And then you pray for God’s will to be done.” As I spoke encouragement, I felt faith well up in my own spirit. Yes, I felt, God is the healer. He who brought the dead back to life, He who created Life out of nothingness, He is able. What is impossible for him? Nothing.
“If it’s not her time, she won’t go,” I reminded Suja. “No one, but God can give or take life.”
So this week, I really prayed for Sue. I prayed the pain she was in would subside and be tolerable. I especially prayed for her complete healing and that she, too, would have the strength to believe despite her pain and circumstances.
So you can imagine my shock when I got the call that Sue had died this morning. As I comforted my friend, I felt sadness overwhelm me as well. Gone too soon. I think of all the books she still had in her, waiting to be discovered by new readers. The places she had yet to explore. The love she still had yet to share.
And then suddenly her passing seemed so wrong. But we prayed fervently, I reminded myself. And I know God heard us. And just like all things we don’t understand, I am reminded that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and while He was fully able to heal Susan, He decided it was her time. And then I’m reminded she is in Heaven. HEAVEN. What am I mourning but our loss? For she has truly gained her reward. As she is pain-free in Heaven in the presence of a God whom she truly believed and loved.
As it reads in 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Now enjoy your reward, Susan. You’ve earned it. I just wish you could have written about your experience… oh what a bestseller that would be!