A Theology of Suffering – The Testimony of Keith Clerihue
A few years ago I met a brilliant, quick-witted man named Keith Clerihue. We were on staff at the same Church in the Denver metro area and his office was down the hall from mine. He is not a man of imposing physical stature, in fact when I met him I recall noting how svelte he was. In a few short months he became my friend and I grew to love him as a brother. I learned a lot about him; the svelte guy is in fact a big man. I learned that he loves his wife. He publicly celebrates and affirms Lori at every given opportunity. He is a great father to two sons. Kip and Bode both look and dress like their dad. His influence on them is undeniable. He has an artistic eye. As a photographer he is uniquely capable of appreciating textures, colors, and design. I am jealous of this gift. In fact, he once teased me for hanging the pictures in my office “…too high for the average human to see.” He is hilarious!!! He makes me laugh every time I see him. He has a certain prophetic tendency that allows him to readily recognize the upside of an experience. This is just one more of his qualities that I wish we shared. He is a good man. I do not say that quickly nor flippantly. Keith Clerihue is a good, flawed, Christ-Loving man. He has surrendered himself to the call of discipleship and his life reflects his surrender.
There was an occasion in which Keith decided to tell me his story. He and I sat in his office on opposite sides of his desk and we had a conversation about who he is. In this conversation I learned that Lori is not his first wife. His first wife succumbed to Cancer a few years before I met him. This insight gave context to his prophetic tendency. In spite of this experience he still displays joy and expects great things from God. As I am processing what he has just told me he hits me with more insight. He is himself a Cancer survivor. He told me the story of his painful recovery and how Lori custom made intensely rich milkshakes for him to put some meat on his bones. He showed me photos of a Keith Clerihue who was even more svelte than the one sitting before me. It was a lot for me to take in, but he did not miss the opportunity to emphasize the virtue of such a testimony. He has, by way of experience and biblical comprehension, a finely honed theology of suffering. He is able to see God in the trial and in a manner that still overwhelms me he is able to “count it all joy” (James 1:2).
Since we had that conversation Keith has continued to war with Cancer’s attack on his body. He has been diagnosed for a third time. And he has seen fit to use this moment to preach the most courageous message I have ever heard. He knows that his faith in the midst of this trial will produce steadfastness. And he knows that this steadfastness will result in his wholeness; completion. “He will be lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). I’m not saying that he is enduring this trial because he is a good man. Instead I am telling you that he is a good man because this trial, along with many others, has honed him into the surrendered disciple that you see in the video below. God threw his “curveball,” and then God rejoiced because Keith stayed in the batters box and perfectly timed the swing of his bat.
Invest 4 ½ minutes of your life to watch this video. Click the “Curveball” link and be blessed by the testimony of God’s man. Thanks for publishing your story Keith.
“Curveball” – A Small Piece of Keith’s Story