3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9
This was the text that my pastor preached his message from on Sunday morning. As I read these words, I couldn’t help but think of Greg’s post and Mary Jo’s faith. One of the hardest things for us to deal with is the question of why good people suffer. At some point, we have to have the faith to trust that God is in control and knows what He is doing. We have to accept that when we put our faith in Him, we give Him our permission to use us as tools to bring glory to His name.
Not everyone is able to do this with grace and dignity. Not everybody is able to feel blessed in the midst of their trials. Not everybody recognizes that this life is but a vapor, here for a moment and then gone. Not everybody can cling to the promise of eternity while suffering the pain of our human mortality.
It has been many years since I have seen Mary Jo. I have recently reconnected with her through Facebook. In the few late night chats that we have had, I see Mary Jo in these verses. Greg’s post describes her faith much better than I ever could. Towards the end of his post, these words really caught my attention:
“God has not abandoned my sister, He has appointed her, knowing full well that her faith will see her through this and her love, hope and commitment to that faith will inspire others.”
This speaks to Greg’s trust in God, as well.
So what can we do?
Every one of us knows or has known somebody with cancer of some type. About 15 years ago, a friend of mine had his five year old daughter diagnosed with leukemia. He told me that there were times when the treatments (chemo) would cause her nose to bleed so badly that they would have to take her to the emergency room for blood and blood platelets. The chemo destroys the platelets that help our blood to clot. At that time, I had never heard of apheresis. It is a process where the platelets are separated from the blood for donation. Most of today’s platelets go to patients that are receiving chemo therapy. The shelf life is only 5 days so there is need of a constant supply. You can contact the American Red Cross or your local blood center for information. I’ve been a donor since that time and am on the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry. It takes me about an hour and fifteen minutes to donate a double unit. It’s a small thing, I know...but it is something that I can do when I feel completely helpless to do anything else.
To say that we should pray for our friends seems like stating the obvious. Go one step further-- make sure that they know that you are praying for them. I know that it has to strengthen them knowing that others are bringing their name before God our Father. Call, write, send a card or an e-mail...just let them know that you are thinking of them and praying for them.
To the readers of Out of My Hat: if you are believers in the power of prayer...remember my friend Mary Jo. Ask God to remember her, too.