Is God in perfect control when awful things happen?
Can your worst enemy become a trusted friend?
Will darkness be made light in Jesus Christ?
The life of the real Sue Thomas, the inspiration behind the crime series Sue Thomas F.B.Eye – airing on Inspiration TV – presents some intriguing answers to these questions. For 35 years, these questions plagued Sue. But then in one moment of seeing the Lord for who He is … of experiencing the reverential awe of recognizing the Savior, the answers became clear!
Born in 1950, Sue was a healthy, active toddler when a dark silence suddenly descended on her during a TV program. Since she was too young to explain to her family what was happening, Sue’s parents thought they just had a cranky child needing sleep. But the next day, it became clear something was drastically wrong. Rushing her to the doctors, they received devastating news. For no known medical reason, Sue had become profoundly deaf. Rejecting the norm of that day – institutionalization – her parents committed to doing everything in their power to equip Sue to live in a hearing world.
Through extreme difficulties, God gifted the family with a foundation of faith that helped them meet every challenge. They firmly believed that:
- God never makes mistakes.
- Everyone is created in the image of God.
For decades, that faith foundation helped Sue survive the taunting of classmates, the erroneous judgments of educators, and many other challenges that came because of being deaf.
“God created me with a strong spirit. He knew I would need it. He also gave me a deep love for people but allowed deafness to separate me from others and thwart that love. For years, I couldn’t understand it; the rejection and isolation crushed me. Yet, God gave me the people I needed to become the woman He designed me to be.”
Sue values each person God placed in her life as a role model, saying, “My life is their legacy, too.”
Sue battled her enemy of deafness with tenacity, perseverance, and hard work. Hours of speech therapy and voice coaching gave her the ability to communicate. Learning to play the piano through the vibrations of the keys provided Sue an outlet when emotions overwhelmed her. Roller skating offered an escape from the pain of rejection and propelled her, at age seven, to become the youngest ever Ohio State Champion Freestyle Skater. Despite being relegated to “dummy classes” in elementary school, Sue graduated from college with a degree in political science and international affairs and eventually went on to a master’s program.
When the skills Sue honed to conquer her enemy opened doors at the FBI, she gave it her all! Her determination, love of adventure, and soft- heart later blended to create an exciting, memorable crime show that set the stage to reveal the divine orchestration guiding her life.
Deep within Sue, though, her faith foundation began to crumble. A successful stint as an elite FBI investigator wasn’t enough to eradicate the rage eating her. Resentment for the ways deafness continued to isolate her destroyed Sue’s peace and began eroding her faith. Convinced God had made a mistake in allowing her deafness, Sue left the FBI to study the Bible more thoroughly and hold God accountable for His “error.”
Enrolling, at age 35, at what is now Columbia International University, Sue found interacting with the large groups overwhelming. In a desperate attempt to create a special one-on-one connection, Sue told a classmate she was dying. The lie morphed monstrously as compassionate hearts shared the tragic news. Soon the entire campus was fervently praying for Sue’s healing. Totally ashamed, Sue went to her advisor to confess. Required to go before the college board, Sue decided to simply leave the school. As she packed, her Bible slipped to the floor and fell open to Hosea 14.
The presence of the Lord settled on her in a way she’d never experienced before. Undone by her sin as she glimpsed the holiness of God, Sue surrendered her life to the Lord and begged His forgiveness. With humble reverence, she saw how God used everything in her life – even deafness – for His glory and her good. The school had prayed for earthly healing, but Sue received eternal healing and promises that guided her for the rest of her life as she met with Jesus in His Word that night…
Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! Take words with you and return to the Lord (Hosea 14:1-2 NIV).
The next day while speaking to the board, Sue fixed her eyes on the president of the college, Dr. McQuilkin. She watched as he lowered his head into his hands and wept for her. “Having met the one who died for my sins and then seeing this man weep for my sins touched me deeply,” Sue shares. The forgiveness granted Sue from the school and her Savior changed her life forever.
“I had an overwhelming desire to make Jesus known around the world. I asked Him to send me to every nation and allow me to reach every generation.”
She longed to help others understand the beauty and value of silence she now understood. “I can close my eyes and enter the presence of God! It’s a privilege I’ve grown to love more and more!” Sue began to see hearing as a disability others have…a disability that deafens them from hearing God. So she set about to develop WaterBrooks, a wilderness sanctuary in Vermont where silence remains unbroken, so hearts can hear from God. WaterBrooks is a tool to help others seek God with reverence and awe.
In 1990 when Sue wrote her autobiography, Silent Night, God put another piece of His plan in action. The book led to the TV show Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye, which revealed Sue’s faith foundation and paved the way for her to fulfill the desire God gave her to reach the nations! The show became a platform that opened doors for Sue to proclaim Jesus around the world. “I don’t want to be known as Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye…I want to be known as a chief of sinners saved by His grace!” she exclaims. A documentary of her life is now underway that will reveal God’s hand even more clearly.
Just as in the Scriptures, surrendered servanthood still includes suffering. In 2001, Sue’s speaking career received a debilitating blow when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
“Thankfully, this did not become a repeat of my anger over deafness. My MS has taught me much about grace. It has allowed me to become a conduit of grace. God allows bad things. But nothing is evil with Him. He uses it all for good. Every second of our lives is ordained by God,” encourages Sue. She followed the same path of trust when her beloved mother died. Out of her grief arose a precious ministry to the destitute on the streets of Washington, DC. Sharing the love of Jesus by tucking in the homeless with a handmade quilt brings joy to Sue and hope to the lonely.
This year, Sue faces a new darkness – a diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer. “I choose to live this time to the hilt. Every second of it. God’s plans are never to harm us. I love Him and proclaim Him knowing He has entrusted this to me to bring Him glory and me good.”
In the wilderness of noise that is life in the 21st century, Sue encourages people to abandon the spiritual shallows created by noise. Turn instead to Jesus’ example…find time alone. Listen for the still, small voice of God in the quiet. Learn to wait in silence before the Lord…still your mind, will, heart, imagination, and passions so your soul can heal in the presence of God.
Watch Sue Thomas F.B.Eye on Inspiration TV On Demand!
Order Sue’s book, Silent Night.
For more inspiration from Sue, visit suethomasministries.org.
Billie Jo Youmans is Content Coordinator and Assistant Staff Writer for Inspiration Ministries.
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