God’s Word"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." James 1:2-4 The Message
Blessings by Laura Story
My dear friend, Maria, passed away at the end of this May. For several weeks she had been in the shadow land of life support and a medically induced coma. She had severe complications due to contracting pneumonia following surgery.
The surgery was meant to extend her life and take away some of the pain she had lived with for most of her life. You see, Maria had severe scoliosis and had agreed to have a new and extensive surgery to try to straighten her spine. She was told that she could “grow” as much as 4 inches. When she told me she was planning to be taller than me, I laughed and told her I was going to miss being able to look her in the eyes from my wheelchair.
Maria’s Mother was told that her daughter would not live past age 15. When I met her she was in her early 40’s! God had sustained her, strengthened her and given her a good life. She was married, worked and served her church with joy and with an amazing attitude.
When her friends and family found out she was in ICU, as the song says “we pray(ed) for her healing…We pray(ed) for (God’s) mighty hand to ease (her) suffering”. We believed she would come home to us. But we forgot God’s plans are not our plans. No matter what we think, God’s plans are perfect and He “loves us too much to give us lesser things”. God allowed her complete healing when she entered her heavenly home, not the incomplete and lesser healing the surgery offered.
I know her dear husband, family and friends prayed “for wisdom and (His) voice to hear”. And, I know God “heard each desperate plea and long(ed) that we'd have faith to believe”. Believe what? To believe that only He knew what was best and he loved Maria more than we could ever hope to.
When I first heard Maria was in a coma and near death, I was in anguish and disbelief. I just could not comprehend that God would not heal her. I knew she would be scrapbooking again with me and would have an amazing testimony of healing. However, as the days continued without her healing, God had to remind me through sleepless nights maybe “the aching of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy.” He reminded me through this song the “ trials of this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest nights are (His) mercies in disguise”
Our pastor shared a story at Maria’s memorial service about a friend of his who had lost her husband and consequently her life’s work on the mission field. When asked how she could have peace and not question God’s wisdom, she shared that she had learned to have a space on her “life’s bookshelf” that was God’s shelf. When she was faced with circumstances she could not understand, she mentally placed those questions on God’s shelf to give to him when she entered heaven. Of course, she also believed that those questions would no longer matter when she faced her Savior.
I’ve had to place my disappointment and sadness over Maria’s death on my own shelf for my Father but, I do believe beyond any doubt my friend Maria had an idea she might go home to Glory and not to her earthly home. The Sunday before her surgery, we were scrapbooking with other friends at church. She told us she and her husband had discussed what he was to do in the event of her death. She even said she had already given away a few things she wanted specific friends to have. We looked at her in disbelief and assured her she would be just fine. I remember telling her that she wasn’t going through this surgery to leave us but to come back healthier and happier. She told me to not worry about her state of mind and that no matter what happened, God had already given her 30 more years of life than the doctors had given her and she was thankful for that mercy.
What a way to live-thankful for every day you had because you knew without a doubt they were not promised to you. I believe that’s exactly how God would have us live. I also believe Maria is dancing in heaven and loving her freedom. I imagine if she could, she would ask us all to consider “what if your blessings come through raindrops and what if Your healing comes through tears and what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know (He) is near. What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise.”
Thank God for your days, for your breath. Ask him to help you place your questions and doubts aside until the day you see Him face to face.