NASHVILLE (BP) -- For 17 years pastor Breonus Mitchell has preached to his congregation at Greater Grace Temple Community Church that they need to rely on faith in God to get them through the pain and suffering of life.
Now, the Baptist pastor is choosing to put into practice what he has preached for so long.
On June 29, Mitchell's wife of 17 years, LaKisha, died at the age of 40 after an 18-month battle with breast cancer. She left behind her husband and two children, Breonus Jr. (B. J.), 11, and Brennon, 1.
"Tragedies remind us that God has no favorites… None of us are exempt from suffering."
-- Breonus Mitchell, pastor of Greater Grace Temple Community Church
Mitchell, who lives with his boys in Nashville, Tenn., acknowledged that he and his oldest son especially have had some difficult days in the month since his wife's death.
He has had to grapple with the question, "How do you serve a God and preach His Gospel when He did not heal your wife?"
Mitchell has realized that "it is okay to question God."
And though he may never have all his questions answered, he feels the presence of God in his life.
"I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to me, saying, 'You didn't ask 'why?' when other members of your congregation passed away. Why are you doing it now?'"
During his personal Bible study Mitchell has been going through the book of 1 Peter which he describes as "a good book on suffering from the New Testament perspective. Suffering is a part of life," he said.
Mitchell's experience has reminded him that "God has no favorites.
"As preachers we can be so engrossed in who we are that we can be deceived into thinking that God has favorites," Mitchell said.
"Tragedies remind us that God has no favorites. None of us are exempt from suffering. It also reminds us that we are human."
During the process Mitchell has learned some "do's and don'ts" of ministering and being ministered to.
-- Be sensitive in what and how you communicate. He noted numerous people told him and his wife that God would heal her. That hurt, Mitchell said, because the couple had read the doctor's reports and knew the diagnosis.
"We believed God could heal if He chose but we understood in our faith that we don't have the right to say what He will do," he said. "He reserves the right to will what He wants to will." Read More