More than 10 years ago one timid girl was to start attending college. She was afraid, she was shy, she was full of doubt. Not once had she stepped foot in a “regular” classroom. She has spent all of her school days taught at home. She was different, but bright. She was conservative, but fun in her quiet way. She had a higher calling now and was convinced that to reach her dreams she needed a college education and so she believed, and stepped out in faith.
Some weeks before the semester was to begin she got a call from her soon to be roommate- introducing herself and wishing her the best until they should soon meet.
The first day of orientation is overwhelming to a freshman and this shy girl was delighted when her new roommate turned out to be studying the exact same thing as herself! They were kindred spirits from the start- bosom friends from day one.
Four year of rooming together and lots of shared memories left these two even better friends. They had both studied to be missionaries and both were sure of their callings. They left college with good grades, big dreams and health and youth on their sides.
Some years passed and one of them ended up returning to the land of her forefathers to teach English and minister there. The other went to get her MA and to go through the strenuous preparation of being a full time missionary.
The one married a man of the people of her fathers.
The other was on the brink of beginning her first term as a missionary in East.
Then the unthinkable darkness, a nightmare of despair came and struck this young single woman. She was taken down with disease. She was removed from her dream. She was taken to home and long hours waiting on doctors. She was bitten by pain.
What will be? What can become when we are so faced with a crumbling of our dreams? Do we whither up in bitterness? Becoming dry shells of broken dreams?
Not so with my friend! She lived on. She lived in hope. She lived in joy! She lived in Jesus!
Her life is not the life she would have chosen. Her life is not the life she dreamed. Her life is not the life she had planned on. But her life is hers, a precious gift from the Giver of all good gifts!
This young women struck with illness and chronic disease in her youth is my dearest friend. My heart aches with her at every tear of pain she cries. My heart prays for her, with prayers that I cannot put into words. I know not how best to pray for her. I know not what to do to ease her pain. But yet I see her and admire her for who she is and has become.
Sometimes I ask myself, would I take her place? When I cry out to God and ask him, “Why, why would you do this to her? Why don’t you heal her?! Why don’t you do something?!I know you can! ” I feel as if a question is asked of me, “Would you take her place?” And in the shame and selfishness of my heart I know I cannot answer, Yes”. I who fear pain- who screamed as my babies came into this world. I tremble at the idea of facing every day with pain.
I stop. I stand in humble awe. For I know that God who saw fit to give my friend her talents, and dreams, also has a reason for letting her go through this fiery hell of pain. She is being refined-like pure spotless gold. She is being made purer, richer, more beautiful in the eyes of He who made her. She is His daughter, His love and her All!
Be encouraged dear friend! I cannot take your pain, or your place. But know that you are not alone and my prayers spill like tears raining from my eyes on your behalf.
Be a friend to the chronically ill. Be real! Be there!