“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:6
My friend is dying. On Monday she was told she has probably three weeks to live. She was diagnosed with cancer last July and has been undergoing aggressive and even experimental treatment since then. Four weeks ago, she was preparing to come home. She rung the bell and was ready to return home. Last week she started to get headaches and they conducted tests. That is when she was told her cancer was back, and it was worse. She is a follower of Christ and knows what awaits her, but eternity is our reward for following Christ, not an exit strategy she wishes to pursue at this time because life hurts.
I share this story not to elicit condolences for her or me; I do cherish your prayers for her. I want to tell you about a journey our church family has been going through as we prayed for her. Many righteous followers of Christ have dropped to their knees and pleaded on her behalf. The elders anointed her with oil and the church sang praises to God. We acknowledged God’s control over all of His creation and surrendered to His will but not in a way to suggest we gave up interceding for her. We prayed daily and have asked other communities to join with us. Admittingly our overall prayers have been selfish because we have asked God to leave her with us so we can enjoy her company and blessings. However, we prayed for more than the healing of the body. We prayed for peace and comfort to engulf her so she could face this journey and be a light to her family. She has shone brightly throughout, reminding people to put their trust and hope in God no matter the circumstances.
So, what good have our prayers been? If she goes to glory in a few weeks some people will be asking themselves “why bother praying”? Her healing was at the forefront of our prayers, but we also prayed that she does not experience any of the known side effects of cancer and chemotherapy. She has felt no pain and if you ask her, she will tell you, “I don’t feel like I’m sick at all”. We prayed for God’s peace over her so she could help her family and friends deal with the cancer. God’s granted her this allowing her to keep her focus on Him, her spouse and family and even allowed her to comfort those able to visit. He gave her His peace to face this struggle and she has been a role model showing us how we can face life and all its ugliness with Christ at our side. We prayed that as people watched their friend deal with cancer, they would reflect on their own immortality and seek God. The ways God has been working in her life and that of others has been incredible. We are thankful that He has reminded us that He was listening to our prayers.
My friend has been scared. She has cried and she has laughed. But mostly she has been strong and wise. All who have visited or talk with her have left feeling uplifted. Even when people have asked her why she looks to God, she has given the wonderful Job reply, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10b).
Her doctors say she has three weeks, but we have not stopped praying for her. It is not because we are stubborn, but we know that at this time only God truly knows whether she will live or die. Paul’s letter to the Philippians reminds us to bring all our concerns to God so we can experience His peace. When you pray today, will you remember Dorothy in your prayers? Will you also ask the Holy Spirit to open Ambrose’s (Dorothy’s husband) heart and eyes so that he may see and feel the peace, hope and joy that come with trusting and loving God.