March 24, 2009
When God Breaks Your Heart, Part 2 w/Ed & Judy Underwood
Welcome to Haven Today. I’m Charles Morris sharing the great story that’s all about Jesus as we ask the question in the next few minutes, “Why is God letting this happen to me?” Most of us Christians have asked this question. I want you to find the answer.
Welcome back to Haven Today. In the next few minutes we’ll be joined by a pastor and his wife from the famous Church of the Open Door in Greater Los Angeles. There is perhaps no greater challenge to our faith than personal suffering. For pastor Ed Underwood this suffering came in the form of chronic leukemia. It also affected his wife as you’ll hear in the next few minutes. So don’t go away for what I believe to be a very valuable program. We open now with the music of Michael O’Brien, “You Are Enough for Me”.
Song: You Are Enough for Me
Performed by: Michael O’Brien
Welcome again to Haven Today. I’m Charles Morris and we are coming to you from Southern California where we do most days and with me in studio is the pastor and the pastor’s wife of Church of the Open Door, a very well known church in America, I guess an icon of American Churches. Ed Underwood, Judy Underwood welcome back to the program today.
JU: Thank you Charles.
EU: It’s great to be here again. Thank you very much.
CM: Hey I’m so glad you guys were willing to suffer having me with you another day –
EU: It’s been a delight!
JU: It’s not a suffer. We’re not suffering!
CM: Well, we’ve heard from a number of our listeners that so appreciated the fact that Ed, you might have been at one time in your life, the old army coming out in you, you were in the army at one time, you were a fire fighter, and pastors are supposed to have everything right and nothing ever go wrong and but that was not the case with you. In fact, at one time you were a very angry man weren’t you?
EU: Oh, I was. It’s a, it’s been a very extremely difficult thing in my life. It was in our marriage, with oiur children and I lived with a lot of anger in my life. And I knew it and I wanted to be different
JU: Even as a believer
EU: Even as a believer and even as a pastor and it was something I wanted to process out of my life. It was always difficult. It was always hard for me to be real pastoral. As a Dallas Seminary grad something we’d get a lot people would say, “Oh, I love your Bible teaching.”
CM: Now that’s allowed if you went to DTS. Your Bible teaching –
EU: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s right. “Now I love your Bible teaching but as a pastor
EU: Yeah, “you’re not that warm.”
CM: Warm and fuzzy? Well, I don’t care if I’m warm and fuzzy!
EU: Yeah, and I can remember thinking, “Boy it’d be great if I just didn’t have to do anything but just teach the Bible and I could just get out of here –
EU: After church.” And one of the, the verse, John 11:40 would be the central verse of the book and –
CM: And let me tell people, you did write the book. We’ll talk about that a little later,
CM: “When God Breaks Your Heart: Choosing hope in the midst of faith shattering circumstances.” So one verse,
EU: One verse was the key. It was really was, that was what God taught us through this and it’s when Jesus looks at Martha and says, because, he says, “Remove the stone,” because –
CM: Lazarus has died
EU: Lazarus has died and, “Remove the stone –
CM: And they’re upset with Jesus for not having gotten there to heal him.
EU: They’re already upset with him and then, and just think about it. She put the whole funeral together, she’s the leader of the home.
EU: She has to do all of this and Jesus says, “Remove the stone,” and one of the things in their climate was, and according to Rabbinical law was you had to get a person in the grave by the 4th day because on the 4th day the body decomposes and you can’t see their face. So she was literally saying to him, “He’s a 4 day man,” meaning, “you can’t let him out. He stinks.” I love the way the King James says it, “Behold, he stinketh.”
CM: Yeah, but that is literal, of course, yes. Yeah, so we kind of gloss that over a little bit.
EU: So she’s protesting and he looks at her and he says, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” And that was the sentence Charles. I told Judy, I said, “We are going to trust him. If I die we’re going to trust him. If I, every time, every new threshold, walking into the cancer hospital for the first time, not being able to pay our debts because there is so much money involved in this, thinking we would lose our ministry. I am going to trust him and I am going to trust him that he is going to bring some glory out of this. And this is a lot of the glory. One of the things I would say. It’s amazing to me now, I’ll speak at conferences or we’ll get new people at the Open Door and they’ll come to me afterward and they will say, “Oh, you’re just so warm!” And I’m thinking, I’m looking around trying to find one of our associate pastors.
Cm: Who are you talking about? Right…
EU: That’s part of the glory of God that I really do believe, and it’s not that I have total victory. There are still, there are times that I struggle with anger but I’m not an angry man anymore and I think that is part of the glory of God that has come out of me having this disease that my broken heart was what God used to break through that crusty army officer, fire fighter, growing up in a non-Christian home, all of that baggage, breaking through the crust of my angry heart.
CM: you know, I’m recalling, I mentioned it yesterday when our older son died of a drug overdose, I don’t think I ever really loved other people outside my own family before that happened in our family. Now Judy, you were married to an angry man for a little while but you were a very hurt wife. When your husband actually denied his Lord at one time when this really hit and the pain was terrible but the pain was with you too, wasn’t it?
JU: Yes it was.
CM: And you didn’t have the cancer.
JU: That’s, no I didn’t. And it was a horrible cancer to watch. It was excruciating and it, it was one of the things that was so frustrating to me and difficult was that you know, his body was basically on fire burning from the inside out and I couldn’t comfort him, I couldn’t touch him because it was too painful. And so,
CM: And his skin cells were actually dying faster than they were being replaced.
JU: Right, right.
EU: yeah, when this manifests it’s like having a horrible, horrible burn and so no one can touch me and she hated that.
JU: So that was difficult but I can remember nights of you know, when you’re in the throes of these things you don’t have a lot of words because you can’t always concentrate that well. You’re tired. I know for him he was on so many drugs to try to control the different symptoms and that prayer, “Lord we believe, you know, we want to believe and see your glory.” It was a one sentence prayer.
Cm: That you could pray over and over again.
JU: That I could pray over and over again along with, “Lord I believe. Help me with my unbelief.” Because there is always that tension in the, in the life of a maturing believer that, yes you believe and you want to believe but there’s always, when circumstances are so overwhelming and when you’re hurting so bad and you’re so confused, it brings doubt with it. And that’s frightening to be that doubtful. And that’s where he found himself, I think.
CM: Judy, you’re kind of tearing up right now in the studio. Was there ever a moment when you were feeling like you just needed to give up and walk away from the husband you loved?
JU: Well, no I don’t think I felt like I would walk away. I was afraid that God would take him away from me. I do remember thinking, “Why does it have to be so hard?” I can, it’s always amazing to me when you go through difficult times it always percolates up out of you. When life’s under control and things are going the way you want it to go, you’re able to keep things kind of buried, things that you think, but when life falls apart you find these things come welling up out of you, attitudes that you never knew you were harboring.
CM: Kind of horrified with yourself, yes.
JU: Oh, absolutely. I can remember thinking I just didn’t know I could be so angry. I mean all of a sudden I became an angry woman.
CM: And angry at God too yes.
JU: And angry at God. You know, I can remember stomping up the stairs in our house screaming, “Why does everything have to be so hard!”
JU: Because I thought that we had suffered enough. I mean, we’d, we’d been through a lot in ministry,
JU: and I thought we’d learned our lessons through trials.
CM: So Lord, give us our final years here in ministry and –
JU: That’s right!
EU: And it could be small things. And you feel so petty but you can’t help it. I remember one time, one of my best friends, I was calling him. He was the guy who flew out and dropped his life, Kevin. He’s in the book.
EU: And I was trying to call l him and his wife said, “Well, yeah. We can only talk for a little bit because we’re going away to a place to be alone,” and all that. And we became sinfully jealous. I remember Judy getting up and stomping out saying, “Well of course they are!” And our, it had nothing to do with them. It was like, “Well God how come we don’t get any good stuff?” “Why is our life so hard?” Because it was, the daily-ness, the daily-ness of suffering –
CM: We’ll say it, it’s a grind!
JU: Well you find yourself entering into a world you didn’t know existed.
EU: And no one can come with you.
CM: And as a pastor and a pastor’s wife you guys were supposed to be the experts. You were supposed to be ministering to everybody else who was going through this kind of ordeal.
JU: And our church, our church was praying. I mean they were amazing the way they were praying for us and stuff. The hardest thing for me through this was showing up for church on Sunday without Eddie there, you know, sitting there watching, you know, somebody else in the pulpit.
CM: You were alone. You were the widow.
JU: I was sitting there alone and all eyes were on me and it was, you know when you’re in ministry and maybe not everybody’s like this, but I am, I feel like I have to take care of everybody.
CM: Yeah, that may be called “Pastor’s Wife Syndrome” or something, I don’t know.
JU: Maybe so, “PWS”. There was a couple of women in the church though that are just my dearest friends and they would envelope me in hugs and I can remember saying to one of them, “Don’t be too nice to me. I’ll start crying and I have to keep it together.” Because I felt like I had to present a strong, courageous face to everyone.
CM: There’s a lot the Lord still has to break in us, isn’t there?
JU: Oh gosh!
CM: And let me just tell anyone that tuned in, you’re listening to Haven Today and I’m Charles Morris and Ed and Judy Underwood are with us as the pastor, Senior Pastor of Church of the Open Door in Greater Los Angeles. Yes, J. Vernon Magee’s church. And his book “When God Breaks Your Heart” goes into his bout with cancer. But you know, you reflected back decades before, you’re one of those people who met the Lord at a Billy Graham crusade.
EU: Yeah but it was on television
CM: On TV!
EU: I sure did. The “Jesus Movement” came to Bakersfield, CA, many of my friends and we were full running, absolutely totally devoted pagans.
CM: Judy too?
EU: Judy was-
JU: No, no, no, no, no, no!
EU: She had become a Christian earlier. She was –
JU: I had become a Christian earlier.
CM: Oh, OK. But you were a pagan as well.
JU: Oh, yes.
CM: All right, all right.
EU: So anyway, yeah, I was, my friends had been telling me about Jesus. I had watched Billy Graham and it moved my heart. I went and talked to a friend, named Bobby. Bobby took me over to the Young Life guy’s house, a guy named Keith Osborne. He’s still around today. I just saw him last summer. And I heard the Gospel for the first time Charles. I couldn’t believe it. I was like, “This is too good! God loves me! Jesus died for me! All of my brokenness healed!” Oh, oh, I was just overpowered by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That Christ died for my sins and arose and he would be part of my life, and –
CM: So your friend Bobby led you to the Lord after your watching that –
EU: I watched Billy Graham. I left and went to his house.
JU: Well, Bobby had told him to watch Billy.
CM: Oh, all right.
EU: Yeah. In the Jesus Movement we tried to do everything different so we just called him “Billy”. And, ah, it sounded more edgy or something.
EU: But anyway, I can remember how important, sometimes as Christians we become jaded. And it’s like, “Oh yeah, yeah. I know that I’m going to heaven but God take care of me now!” But the day I was diagnosed I was well enough to drive by myself and University Hospital is down in East LA.
CM: Gotta fight some traffic.
EU: I was driving through the freeway back and that doctor looked at me and said, “This is a lymphoma.” And I didn’t know much about the word
EU: But I knew that I had cancer and I knew –
CM: And he said it in a somber way
EU: He said it in a very somber way, he said it in a very somber way
CM: so you knew that was serious.
EU: He said usually when this happens it’s a manifestation of an underlying malignancy,” was exactly the way he put it. He told me what I had and I went home and looked it up on the internet and thought I was dead.
JU: Which was a mistake.
EU: It’s always a mistake.
EU: But nevertheless, on my way home one of the things that happened to me was I had never appreciated Heaven as much in the last 10 or 20 years of my life. I remember, “I have to tell Judy that I have cancer,” and it became, every mile I drove, the closer I got to Laverne, up in the foothills in the San Gabriel Valley Charles, the more dear Heaven became to me. And I remember thinking, “Yeah, yeah. OK, if I go out I’m in Heaven with Jesus forever. This isn’t it for me.” And so the Gospel was more precious to me, here I am 40 years later, than it was even the day that I believed. I belong to Jesus.
CM: After, after that time when you, you know, you were just in such pain and shaking your fist in God’s face and having your doubts, finally that verse came back to you Jesus just saying, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you.”
EU: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
CM: even though you left him for a season.
EU: That’s right. You know, he pursued me the same way he pursued Mary and Martha. He walked down the road. He walked down the road toward their house. He came to the grave And I just want people to know, Jesus is there with you at that bedside. He’s there with you in that hospital room with those beeping things, he’s with you as you’re standing next to the grave of your child, isn’t he Charles? You know that.
CM: Mmhmm, Mmhmm.
JU: Well it says that he will come near to the broken hearted and –
EU: The Lord comes near to the broken hearted the psalmist says.
JU: and in his book Eddie talks about how if you want to be near to Jesus too you will find him near the brokenhearted.
EU: Find a broken heart, stand there with them. There’s somebody you’ll meet there. His name is Jesus.
CM: I remember I think the first time Janet and I met you guys and we were at the homes of mutual friends. John had maybe 3 days left on this earth and here he was, in his cancer, dying visibly in front of us and yet he was still ministering to us.
EU: You know,
CM: he was the one ministering to me! I went to try and feebly minister to him but yet in his dying breath he was sharing Jesus with us.
EU: You know people have said to me, “You’re the perfect person to write this book.” No I’m not. He’s in Heaven, he didn’t get a chance to write it. His name is John Campbell and I, you know, this prayer that saved my life, “Please let Ed live and serve.’ I went to John and Peg’s house that day, Judy and I showed up, I took them to John 11 and, “If you believe you’ll see the glory of God.” And I left there really believing that he was going to live and I want people to know it doesn’t always turn out. I’m still, I’m confused by this, aren’t you Charles?
EU: I miss him
EU: I miss him. But here’s what I know: that Jesus Christ has made every difference in us saying goodbye to him. And it doesn’t always work out the way we always want. I still have this disease. God could take me out any moment. You still face every day without your son. Peg is living on without John but Jesus draws near to that broken heart.
CM: He never leaves us.
EU: He draws near to that broken heart. And I wouldn’t want anybody to conclude that he doesn’t care. He cares. He cares more than the person on earth who loves you more than anyone else.
CM: Ed Underwood, you bring this point out and I want you to pray for us, just Romans 8:28, Philippians 4, all things, all times, always. Lead us in prayer?
EU: Father, we’re going to claim some promises. Your Bible tells us that though everything isn’t good you have the capacity to make good out of it. The Bible says we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us and there are those listening, maybe some who aren’t yet believers. I pray Father that they would trust Jesus Christ even now. They would believe that he died for their sins and arose and that he can remake them from the inside and they would want that. But there are believer who are wondering why you broke their heart and I pray Father they would hear the words of Jesus to Martha, “If you believe you will see the glory of God.” And what they need to believe is that he is still good, that he still cares, that he is with them. And I claim this promise for them, that they will see the glory of God and I pray Father your Holy Spirit would put it in your heart and when that happens they would write Charles and let him know that this is how God used my heartbreak to bring glory for himself. And I pray this for their hurting hearts in Jesus’ name, amen.
Thank you for joining us in prayer and that is the music of “Classical Praise: The Signature Collection”. If you’d like some wonderful background music to just keep playing over and over again on your CD player or on your computer or in your car you can get that from us as a thank you for your gift to the ministry here at Haven Today. Call us at 1-800-65-HAVEN or go online at haventoday.org, “Classical Praise: The Signature Collection”. Ed and Judy Underwood from Church of the Open Door here in Greater Los Angeles on a Haven Today called “When God Breaks Your Heart”. Well, I’d like you to have a copy. If you’d like to find some hope in the midst of faith shattering circumstances or someone you know needs hope in the midst of a faith shattering circumstance in their life right now you need to get a copy of this book, “When God Breaks Your Heart”. We’d love to send you one as a thank you for your gift to this Jesus-Centered ministry. You can get it by just going online. You can read more about the book there. We’ll also send you a CD of our 2 days together with Ed and Judy Underwood. Just go to h.a.v.e.n.t.o.d.a.y, haventoday.org or you can give us a call if you’d like. Here’s our toll free number in North America, 1-800-654-2836, that’s 1-800-654-2836. Please let us know the station you’re listening to when you get in touch. And maybe you know someone who’s undergoing a difficult time right now and this program today would be a special blessing to them. Just go to our website, haventoday.org. Look for the “Listen” button. Near there you’ll see where you can type in your friend’s email address plus a little personal note to them and it’ll be on its way right away. Remember when you get in touch the name of the book is “When God Breaks Your Heart” by Ed Underwood. The forward, by the way, is by Joni Eareckson Tada. Let me give you our mailing address. We’re:
Riverside, CA 92513
In Canada we’re:
Vancouver, BC V6B4C9
I’m Charles Morris and thanks for being with me. Come back again tomorrow won’t you when again we’ll be telling the great story? It is all about Jesus here on Haven Today.
When God Breaks Your Heart
For a gift of any amount
There is perhaps no greater challenge to one's faith than personal suffering. For pastor Ed Underwood this challenge came in the form of chronic leukemia. ...
[Get It Now]
For a gift of any amount
A special series of hymns and contemporary praise music. From the dramatic to the sublime, you'll enjoy classical musicians as they weave together a masterpiece fit for the concert hall. ...
[Get It Now]