I sat next to her in lawn chairs. The sun was out and warm, but we still needed our sweatshirts. It was chilly in June, camping in the mountains of the pacific northwest.
I began small talk with this woman I had known for several years but with whom I had never spent much time.
She looked healthy, yet I knew she was very ill. Because of her illness, she couldn’t do much in a day, yet she had a bright pleasant smile. I also knew that her love for Jesus was deep. She knew him in a way, an intimate way, that most don’t. It was tangible. I could feel it on her.
“How are you doing?” I asked. “how has it been?” we talked about husbands, jobs, kids, life. Soon the conversation turned to how she was coping with her illness and how it had affected her.
She said, “It’s hard. I can’t do what I want to do. My body just won’t let me. I can’t be the mom I wanted to be. I don’t have the strength. Most days are good in the morning, but by afternoon my husband comes home and has to take over. I am flat out unable. My body is just breaking down.”
“Is there anything they can do for you?” I ask.
“I have been on many medications, they work for a short while, when they stop working we try something new. I have tried various diet modifications and they help to a small degree, but the truth is there is nothing they can do. I will live a short life and it will break down my body more and more over time.”
There was silence between us as I absorbed this heart-wrenching news.
“Most days are just very quiet” she says. “My boys are amazing, My husband is amazing. They sacrificially, without complaint or argument, totally serve me daily. I am overwhelmed by their understanding and love.”
Then she leaned a little closer, and said something I didn’t expect.
She said in a soft voice, “You know, Kari, Jesus has been so good to me through all of this. I know him so much more, my family knows him so much more. His grace has been something we have tangibly felt every day. My Family Needed this.”
When she said it, I could feel it on her that she had become thankful… truly thankful…. in the midst of her pain. In the midst of her loss. In the midst of her dashed life-hopes and dreams. In the midst of it all she was unashamedly thankful.
Not thankful that she was sick, not thankful that she was going to live a short life…. but thankful because the gifts it had given her family outweighed its price. They KNEW HIM more. And it was worth it.
“Be still and KNOW that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
We talked about this love that she had found in the midst of it all. Finally she said. “Most people want me to be healed and they feel bad for me. I understand their feeling and I would love to be healed, but not if it means losing what we have gained. I just so desperately want them to see the beauty I see here in this place. I want them to see how good Jesus is.”
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Mat 13:44
My heart was overwhelmed because Jesus had been showing me this lesson of abiding. This lesson of resting IN HIM no matter the circumstance, and here before me was a perfect example. An example he wanted me to pay attention to.
“When sorrow comes under the power of divine grace, it works out a manifold ministry in our lives.” – Streams in the Desert
Here she was, so sick, having lost so much, and she was ministering to me in a way that will live with me forever. God is working out a manifold ministry in her life through her pain and sorrow. And what her life is testimony to is that intimately knowing Jesus is worth whatever we must give up.
And I think about you and I think about me and the testimony that he is writing through our lives. I pray great bravery on us, that we would allow him to tell his story through our pain, our failure, our weaknesses, and our sorrow. Because all of those things we try desperately to hide he changes into beauty and strength. In our weakness he is strong, and from our heap of ashes he brings great beauty.
Kari Day is a woman passionately pursuing Jesus in her everyday life…stumbling and falling along the way. She is the co-founder of Allied Women, a community of women helping women to pursue God’s purpose for them. Kari is driven by a passion to see women change the world for Christ by living fully in the purpose he has created them to live. She blogs about living life intentionally and abiding in Jesus at KariDay.com and Allied-Women.com She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three kids, golden retriever and new kitten she recently rescued from under the house. You can connect with Kari on Facebook.