On the path…but with darkness surrounding

On the path…but with darkness surrounding

Darkness On the Path blog by Cheryl Schatz


This post is a long time coming and it is my desire that it will encourage someone who is suffering in silence. It will also help people to see that the strength that has come out in my posts is a true gift of God that has grown in the midst of darkness and betrayal.

While I have been struggling with cancer, I have also been dealing with several types of persecution that started a year before I discovered the lump that initiated my fight against cancer. The thing that took me by surprise was that the persecution and betrayal would come from those who called themselves Christians.

There are times that I wondered how much I could bear, especially when I was handed so many problems at once. There is a saying that God only gives you what you can bear, but I have come to understand that this is not true. God often will give you more than you can bear on your own, because it is in those times, that He wants you to run to Him for the strength that you do not have. He alone has the strength to bear all things. We on our own will fail unless we are able to acknowledge our need. Then and only then can we be in Christ’s strength and bear all thing.


The first betrayal came from someone who should have been there for me. This person had promised their support. The person was one whom I had supported financially, physically, emotionally and spiritually for many, many years. It was an issue of jealousy and that jealousy turned into unfair and unfounded slander. The person wanted no answers to their outrageous accusations because they didn’t want the truth. One of the saddest positions to be in, is to be purposely blind because that is what feels comfortable to you. Unfortunately, the wilfully blind person cannot be fixed. While I was still reeling from the surprise attack by my Frenemy, my Brother-in-law passed away suddenly from an aneurysm in February of 2013 and my beloved Mother-in-law died on April 1, 2013.  By May 2013, my pastor stopped talking to me for five weeks and I found the lump that sent me to the doctor with the suspicion of cancer. I should note that my pastor had been my husband’s and my own best friend! During the time that he had stopped talking to me, I sent him a text asking him to pray for our son. Our youngest son was extremely ill last year, and we did not know if he was going to make it. It didn’t look good, and he was very, very sick. My pastor would not even respond to my text asking him to pray.  All of this along with the shunning was definitely more than I could take.

Pastoral problems

The issue with my pastor took some time to figure out because his actions were confusing to me. The year before he had told my husband and me about a solemn promise that he had made to God. He said that he had cried on his knees before the Lord because he did not want to do what God was telling him to do, but in the end, he made his vow to do what God required of him, even if it cost him his job. We believed him and never thought he would go against that vow to God. But when he went down a road that was opposite to the promise he made to God, he started to shun me. It appears that my support of his original decision and my encouragement for him to follow through with his promise was too much for him at the time when he had already decided to run in the opposite direction. So for five weeks my own pastor stopped talking to me, and since that time, he will say hello and he will shake my hand at church occasionally, but he has shunned me for close to a year giving me no support at all during the entire time that I have been fighting cancer. He won’t even come to my house to have a conversation with me at my request. As far as pastoral support, I have none. None, that is, from my own pastor. I am so blessed that God has provided me with men and women who have a pastor’s heart and who have encouraged me and loved me through the dark times when I did not know if I was going to survive chemotherapy or not. God has allowed me to feel loved by many people who have been an amazing encouragement to me.

When, no if, the dark times come

When the dark times come, God does not always let you know what is ahead or when or even if there will be light at the end of the tunnel. It is in these dark times that one must run to God. It is a good time to focus on the character of God, His goodness, and His trustworthiness because knowing that He deeply loves you can be the only thing you have to hold onto. It is the true reality and the thing that will survive the darkness. The difficult times in life are only here for a relatively short time. This life is so short in comparison to eternity. Friends and pastors may fail you, but God will never fail. Do not ever let the fact that a Christian has failed you be the thing that separates you from God. People are sinners and even those who call themselves Christians, but who do not live up to that commitment, will fall into sin. But God cannot sin, and He cannot be unfaithful. If you run to Him when everyone else has failed you, He will not fail.

So this is the story that I have never publicly told about the other side of the strength that I have shown. At a time when I could not take anymore bad things happening, and when I could not take anymore unfair persecution, I ran to God instead of running away from Him. He did not fail me. He gave me enough to cover my fears and my disappointments, and He has kept me strong through it all. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing that is….unless we turn our back and run away from Him and treat Him as our enemy instead of our friend. My testimony is that God is my Friend. He has never lied to me or gossiped about me or shunned me in fear and anger. He is everything in this life to live for and for eternity.

Praise in the Storm

A dear friend sent me this song during one of my dark times. Here is a link to the youtube version of Praise You in the Storm. Please click the link and be blessed like I was to receive it.  Praise You in This Storm

13 thoughts on “On the path…but with darkness surrounding

  1. Dear Cheryl
    My heart goes out to you not just for the fight with cancer, but with the disappointments of those who you trusted and have let you down. Its very sad when these things happen and unfortunately it seems to happen more with Christian people than those who don’t profess christianty. Don’t understand these things at all because I have experienced some hurts along those lines (not with a pastor) but with close christian friends…who it is now hard to be close too. Yes, I know the Lord is our only refugee and strength; however, we are human and need others in bodily form. I pray that only good is ahead of you and that God will bring into your life those who are truly sincere, loving,,and encouraging.
    Be Blessed.

  2. Cheryl, you’ve been in my prayers and I have waited for your post! Thank you! But this post is not much about your physical health, it is a welcomed vulnerable glimpse into some spiritual suffering. For me, some physical struggles open my heart to take a closer look at some spiritual issues. In my case it is most often my pride that needs confession, yet like you, fellowship issues may emerge. It is no fun to be shunned! It is not of the LORD except that it be organized around deliverance, and not due to the other party seeking revenge. For what it’s worth, I have been shunned in a way that leads to repentance, and shunned when motives were only due to apostasy. Both hurt, but if I need it, our Savior is in control & the ‘discipline’ is never cruel. If a gang of believers are against me (usually the apostasy type) the pressure is unbearable due to the lack of love. In A.W. Tozer’s Attributes of God, sermon on love, we are reminded that genuine love holds goodwill towards the object of love. To my untrained ears it seems your pastor is out of bounds in shunning you, especially at this time. You can trust the LORD Christ is all about good will to you.

  3. sorry to hear this has happened to you Cheryl especially in a time when you needed support the most. We have emailed before my name is Gus. I dont know if you remember me but I just want to say that i too know of this kind of betrayal from within those in the body of Christ, especially from those who serve or are supposed to serve as Shepherds. Thank God we look to Christ and not humans as our true spiritual leaders. In the deepest darkest valleys of my life, God always has provided an exit or rather an alternate path when i pleaded before the cross begging Him to use me and not abandon me. Even through your illness God is using you to minister to others. I know you have been a pivotal part of MM Outreach and im not sure if your a former JW or ex-cultist. I have found that the American church especially its shpherds are very weak because it is untested. Trials can be burdensome even when they are from those we dont expect them to come from but they strengthen us. Even in your weakest of health this trial of your spirit will make you stronger and take courage that God has deemed you worthy of it. He knows your strong, stronger than your pastor and because of that strength greater will your reward be when he gives you the territory of angelic hosts you will judge.

    Tu Hermano en Christo – Your brother in Christ,
    Agustin “Gus” Astacio

  4. Diane, God did create us to be in community, so it is difficult when parts of that community become toxic. I led a support group for years to help those who were experiencing the problems of shunning in their own cult. But the shunning I have received from Christians really took me by surprise. It is one thing to be able to help others. It is another thing to experience the pain they have experienced. My almost 93 year old mother says that God provides a way out for us when these things stress us too much. He is giving her that way out in her own problems that have nothing to do with shunning. It has reminded me that I need to keep looking for the open door that God gives when the enemy wants to come to kill, steal, and destroy.

  5. Dear brother Gus, what wonderful comments! Thank you! That is also a great reminder that we are in trials here to grow us into spiritual maturity. We are indeed going to judge angels!

    Your comment was left in the moderate box way too long. I am sorry that I could not get to it as I got really sick not long as I finished this post. I ended up in the ER and I describe what the last few days were like here http://mmoutreach.org/cheryl/major-tear/

    I have never been a JW or a cultist, but God birthed a real calling on my life to minister to the JW’s. I could not get away from that call and for a year and a half, God ministered to me every night in my dreams as I dreamed about witnessing to the JW’s. When the dreams ended 18 months after they started, there was no doubt that God had called me to work to help these lost souls.

    Right now the weight of the entire ministry is on Richard’s and my shoulders and it has been hard going even without my illness. Perhaps God is teaching me where to place my priorities and how I can change some of the things we have been doing that we always a part of this ministry, but which could be dropped or set aside for a time. We cannot continue to live as if we are capable of doing the work of two or three people. We still have human restrictions.

    I remember at one time you wanted to have a dialog with me on a particular doctrinal issue. I know I have it marked in my in box. I had wanted to have time for that at some point, but things have progressed rather rapidly toward “redeeming the time” and what is the best use of it right now. I know you are also a very busy person and you work hard too (maybe you work too hard as well). So just that you know, I do remember we have a pending discussion, and should I find that niche of time available, I can pull up the email and see if you are still interested.

    I know that you also understand the pressures of a ministry and so that brings an extra kinship. Thank you for hearing and understanding what I have been through. If I had not experienced it myself, I am not sure I would have believed it. There is more, but probably won’t be shared here.

    Your sister in Christ,

  6. Hi Holly,

    I posted two blog posts quite close together so you may have missed the first one, my really good update. It is linked here http://mmoutreach.org/cheryl/cure-again/ Then there is my latest setback that I linked to in my comment above.

    For me vulnerability is a risk that I take at times to help others. It isn’t always easy to open up and talk about the dark things that have happened to you at the hands of another Christian. If I was the one that needed discipline, I would welcome it, along with dialog, and healthy communication in a manner that befits brethren in Christ. What is hard is that to this day I still have not been told what precipitated the shunning. In a meeting with the District overseers, my pastor admitted to treating me with silence, but he never gave a reason for his silence. This kind of treatment is abusive and does not follow the example of love that Jesus showed. One cannot say they love the members of their church, and then fail to even have a conversation with them, and instead treating them with silence. The actions stand in strong opposition to the words. And we were best friends. Can you imagine the confusion and hurt that would come to a younger Christian who is not as mature and one who would sustain emotional damage from the abuse? I cannot imagine what goes through the mind of a leader who chooses to treat the sheep this way. The sad thing is that one of his favourite TV shows is revenge. I have never seen the show, but being drawn to a show with this kind of name may possibly reveal an internal desire to show revenge. If I had done something wrong, there is a constitutional and proper way to address the sin. Rather then following this way, he has chosen to give out an unofficial punishment without ever stating the reason. This is crazy making and it is not the Christian way. Has he gone out of bounds during this time of illness? I think that is clear. But I am not the only one who has been treated this way. He has a pattern he follows in each church he leads and there is a young family who have not been Christians for that long, who are experiencing his silence right now, and they have done nothing wrong either! I wish the church would be a safe place, like Jesus intended. We need to be salt and light to the sin that exists in the church. We also can share love where no love exists. Jesus is the source of love and He is the great healer, inside and out!

  7. Thank you for your response Cheryl! As I reread what I’d written I guess I rambled on because of my recent experience getting shunned. I hope you can forgive my questions about ‘if it is deserved,’ because I was reflecting –or spouting off my internal frustrations. Not fair to you! Plus, now I am not sure what I meant by apostates, except that I desperately need assurance that my faith is sound. My heart goes out to the young believers who need assurance. The Saviour called me January of 2008, and my feelings can get hurt easily still. Since I posted I have been brought by the Holy Spirit to more strength, to focus on the Author & Finisher of our faith, Christ. He is not condemning. Again, please forgive me for attempting to sort my issues with yours!

  8. P.S. Your ministry is commendable! You may enjoy a testimonial from a family of former Mormons, an hour long version is on YouTube, search Micah Wilder. I am not sure if JW & Mormons have much in common, but they both present ‘another’ Christ.

  9. P.P.S. hope I’m not wearing out my welcome, but want to share a book recommendation. I am just finishing: Predators in Our Pulpits, by a Canadian, W. Phillip Keller. He also wrote: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 (and I think he has been promoted to Heaven).

  10. Holly,
    I don’t mind people sharing their experiences at all. I did wonder if people might question what I had “done” to get me shunned, but the fact is that shunning is an abusive action that is not attached to a sin. It is a means of control that is used to inflict pain on person.

    Thank you also for giving the head’s up on Micah Wilder and the book about Predators in Our Pulpits. Both sound interesting and worthy of looking up. Thanks!

  11. Thank you Cheryl! Reading about your skin tear that is filling with fluids & draining – yet you take time to graciously respond to my own pain from abusive shunning. The light of Christ’s Gospel shines through you, and is very healing. I can’t imagine your pain, but from your example I want to do the opposite of shunning: put an arm around those who are sick (with encouragement that our Father loves them no matter what), and grow stronger in His Word to help anybody who is struggling under condemnation. Your physical/fellowship pain is not in control of you, and this is amazing! It’s almost like watching a damaged tree as it continues to produce fruit. Prayers for your rest & full recovery; prayers for a future ministry where you & your husband, who are full of the truth in love, are set high on a table where His light shines as a lighthouse – steady, constant, warning, guiding; and may your family receive many times over all you can give! Hugs!! In Christ’s name & for His glory

  12. Holly,
    Wow! You are indeed growing in the grace of the Lord! I am proud of you for wanting to turn your pain into help for others! I am so pleased to meet you here on my blog, sister in Christ.

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