It is 10:00 a.m. and we are at our church’s meeting place. Looking around at the brothers and sisters present for worship, and remembering some others not there, I reflect on so many blessings which I must not ever take for granted. Gayle smiles sweetly from her wheelchair. Cerebral palsy left her unable to shake hands but it can’t stop her from touching hearts. “Thank you, God, for a body that works.”
My dear friend Eddie is not here today. Not yet middle-aged, his brain seizures since an apparently minor automobile collision have grown more frequent. A licensed CPA and father of three, he is now on official disability. “Thank you, God, for my well-functioning brain and nervous system.” His wife, Leah, has assumed the extra load. Praise God for faithful and sacrificial spouses!
Richard is not here. His kidneys have essentially stopped working, and daily dialysis keeps him alive. The doctors amputated both his feet some time ago. What a thrill if he could roll out of bed and dress!
Wanda is in the M.D. Anderson cancer hospital, comatose in ICU. Her husband Gary tells me the outlook is grim. He invites some of our elders to anoint her with oil and pray this afternoon. She will not know it, but God will and Gary will and that is enough. “Thank you, God, for M.D. Anderson hospital — and that no one in my family needs to be there.”
There is no earthly reason why Gayle has cerebral palsy and I don’t. Or why Leah’s Eddie has seizures instead of Sara Faye’s Edward. Or why Richard’s feet are gone instead of mine. Or why the mother of Gary’s children is in M.D. Anderson and my children’s mother is not.
“Lord, let me remember to give thanks for all the things that didn’t happen! And if and when the troubles come, let me recall with gratitude all the days they were absent. Help me know with certainty that I will die one day, unless Jesus comes first, and to accept that fact with grace — and the event as well, if I have any warning that it is imminent. Let me know, whatever happens for good or bad, that You are with me, that You love me, that You have all power, and that You never change. And let me encourage and serve others who suffer now, if there is some way I can do that.”