What brought on this revelation of admiration was my Sunday afternoon spent with friends. We were celebrating the 13th birthday of my dear friend's oldest child. My friend lost her daughter 8 years ago. I did not know my friend at the time, but we have become very close over the past few years. I have enjoyed listening to countless stories and memories of the her life. One such story has always stuck with me: another friend recounted to me that at the memorial service, my friend walked in with hands raised in praise singing. Just picturing it in my mind brings tears to my eyes. Tears of joy. In what I can imagine to be the darkest time of my friend's life, there she stood strong in her faith knowing her beautiful daughter had gone home to be with Jesus in heaven. To this day, I continue to see and admire the strength and grace she possesses. Her peace and faith are inspiring.
Later that same Sunday evening, I was reminded of another friend's fight with cancer, for the second time. This 30-something wife and mother of 3 beautiful children must undergo another surgery for thyroid cancer. She battled it the first time when she was pregnant with her first child. My friend has approached her recent diagnosis with aplomb. She is rolling with the punches and never has a negative word or complaint. I am awestruck by her positivity and trust in God.
All of this lead me to consider how I handle life as it comes my way. I would love to say that I exhibit the same strength of faith and peace that these ladies do, but, to be honest, I can't say that I do.
And so, to my good book...The Land Between by Jeff Manion. These times when we lose those we love or encounter an unfortunate medical diagnosis is when we grow to have that strength and peace. The author uses the journey of the Israelites through the desert to explain how the Land Between, while is sometimes our darkest, toughest hour, is the time when we must trust the most and allow God to help us grow. The silly folks that followed Moses out of Egypt could not have gone directly to the Promised Land and been the pictures of faith. Nope. They needed those 40 years in the desert to get all that golden calf nonsense out of their systems. And, so do we. It is when you are the thirstiest that the water tastes the sweetest. While no one asks to be dropped in the desert, the way in which we walk through it will determine the depth of our growth and the width of our faith.
So, to my friends, thank you for your beauty and genuine faith. And thank you to my God, who can make me more beautiful and faithful, too.