Stand Firm

On April - 13 - 2018

“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.” I Corinthians 16:13 NLT

When I was very near giving birth to my son with a circumference of dizzying proportion, I decided to take a walk through my small town. I waddled down main street, the spring air lifting my spirits. As I passed a small shoe store, I felt an overwhelming urge to go in.

Inside I met a woman who worked there, and before long I knew why I had entered. She quickly revealed to me she had recently been widowed, that her husband had died of cancer, that he had found Christ when he was diagnosed and that he was hopeful and joyful to the end. Then she told me the saddest thing. She said she was an avowed atheist. If the love her husband had for God was not good enough for God to choose to heal him, then there must not be a God.

Strong words, spoken with conviction; she voiced one of life’s unanswerable questions: If there is a God, why do bad things happen to good people? I breathed a prayer: ‘What words do YOU have for her, Lord?’

I took her hand, and said how very, very sorry I was that she had lost her husband. I told her how inspired I was by his faith; through the suffering even to his death. I was humbled by such faith. Then I heard this bedrock truth come out of my mouth straight from heaven:

‘Life is hard. It is so hard. It is unkind and unfair and NO one seems to escape the worst things life brings. It is frightening sometimes, and terrible. But. No matter what life will dish out to me, I am thankful that I have God’s love to lean on, His big loving arms to hold me in the darkest nights of my soul. That even when I do not know what to do, or why something is happening I can be comforted by His love and His presence. And I do not know how people who do not know that love can survive this awful, terrifying life.”

She looked stunned, realizing that she might be pushing away the very thing that could make her better again. Tears came to her eyes. I said, ‘I know one thing: I guarantee you that your dear husband was praying for you during that entire time and that even now he is praying for you to come to know the love and peace that he found in Jesus.”

Then the tears fell. We stood there on that lovely spring day in that fancy shoe shop, one very pregnant, sweaty missionary wife and one perfectly coiffed, elegant widow and prayed and invited the Presence of the Comforter to come. The love and joy that is Jesus flooded that shop and filled us. She smiled through her tears. She was connected. She was brave. She could stand firm. She had faith.

Stand firm.

~ Debbie Ecker

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