I met You, Father, at a holiday luncheon. Since a Christmas get-together with 20 plus excited women isn't usually the venue for serious conversations, I wasn't expecting for You to shiver my spirit, Lord.
I had refilled my tiny plate and wandered down into a sun-filled room where three or four sisters sat in a tight circle, perched on ottomans and chairs as they munched goodies. (Thank You for drawing me there.) How we landed on such a darkly complex subject I can't recall - but I'm so glad we veered in that direction! As we grieved together over the loss of a young woman from our church family, we collectively voiced our struggle to understand, to comprehend why, when illness strikes, that some are healed and other precious ones are not. I could see the confusion in the eyes of those in the circle as we silently pondered, and I knew I mirrored that bewilderment from my eyes. We continued to mull over the knotty subject; then someone recalled this scripture: "He himself bore our sins in his body ... By his wounds you have been healed" (1Pe 2:24). Someone proposed the idea that perhaps, as servants of Jesus and each other, God may call us to suffer for the sake of another's spiritual healing.
At that moment, one of the ladies thoughtfully said, "That happened with me." She then shared something of her long journey with cancer, which had begun many years previously. This was not a bleak and bitter recitation of an unjust difficulty she had endured; this lovely sister used each stage of her struggle to overflow with praises of the Lord! As she unfolded her passage through the valley, she punctuated her story over and over with thankfulness for the goodness of God even as she experienced apalling pain and sickness. It seemed that even when her body labored just to remain alive, her spirit remained alertly focused on her Master, and took note of and applauded each time God reached down in love.
Of all the amazing gifts the Lord gave during those weeks and months, even years, of calamity, certainly the most wonderful, awesome gift to this sister was the return of her prodigal brother to the Savior as a result of her battle with cancer! We raised our own heartfelt thanksgivings to Him as she concluded her testimony.
A worship assembly with hundreds of lovers of God could not have been more inspiring and uplifting as that little round assembly on that sunny porch. My spirit shivered as we encountered You, Lord.