Saturday, October 1, 2011
“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (emphasis added) I Peter 4:19
6:00 am—Lyndi was already dressed and in the kitchen scooping hot, sticky oatmeal into bowls. Her face told of another pain-filled, sleepless night. A wee whine from the back of the house cried out something unintelligible, something about shoes. Dependent on crutches, Lyndi hobbled toward the voice. Unaccustomed to such early morning energy, I rubbed my sleepy eyes. Lyndi’s mother took over in the kitchen and rounded up the three superheroes from outside. Every school morning Lyndi’s mom drives the short, dark miles between their houses to help dress four young children and drive them to school.
3:00 pm—Grocery filled arms, I close the door with my foot. Paper sacks tearing under the weight of milk, eggs, fruit, and bread. A plastic sack dangles off my pinkie: pink ballet shoes and leotards. The noise in the house is louder than usual. Lyndi brought home two Korean children, giving their young parents time to grapple with that day’s news of a tumor and liver cancer.
5:00 pm—Flour dusted counters, batter filled bowls, sizzling griddle, preheating oven, and empty foil pans waiting to be filled. Banana bread, protein pancakes, breakfast muffins, and chicken casserole. My week with Lyndi was soon ending; freezer meals would be an ongoing support.
6:00 pm—The doorbell rings. Lyndi painstakingly makes her way over. She smiles at a Korean woman, cheeks glistening with fresh tears. Before allowing her to pick up her children, Lyndi ushers this new friend to her room—an intimate gesture of friendship. Barely able to communicate the same language, Lyndi assures the woman they are now family and will walk through this cancer battle together. They pray—the Holy Spirit speaks every language.
The front door once again opens. Lyndi’s mother enters, bearing a Crock Pot of pot-roast and vegetables. I wipe my hands on my apron and stack pancakes on a plate to send home with the Korean family. Young black hands, eager to help, add one to the stack and one in the mouth.
Suddenly, like a flash of lightening, the beauty of this moment strikes me. I look around at faces—two blonde children, chocolate-skinned adopted twins, two sharp-eyed Korean children and a weeping mother, my friend on crutches, her widowed mother, me from 350 miles away and brokenhearted.
My vision clouds with tears. My spirit is overcome with emotions. Service. The outpouring of love amidst pain. This is Christ, at work, in and through His bride. I can feel, see, hear, and touch His presence. I am paralyzed.
Joseph, even in prison, faithfully served guards and fellow inmates. Moses, weary and exhausted from journey, continued to lead God’s people in the desert. The poor widow and her son gave of their last resources in hospitality to God’s servant Elijah. David continued to play harp for his king, though Saul sought his life. Paul, despite his ‘thorn in the flesh,’ continued to tirelessly serve the church. The apostles, though threatened with persecution and death, continued to spread the gospel. We could go on with Biblical examples of service in the face of suffering, couldn’t we?
"Love suffers long and is kind." I Cor. 13
Somehow, in my serving that week, I’d quite forgotten about the cracks in my own heart. Instead of dwelling on my own pain, I was thinking of how I could lift Lyndi’s. That heavy burden, which seemed unbearable last week, lost its weight. My circumstances didn’t change, but my vision had. It’s a mystery. A beautiful mystery.
Do you find yourself in pain today? Physical, spiritual, or emotional pain? Reach out. Pour into others. Serve. Love. "Let those who suffer... [do good]." I Peter. 4:19