“And how’s one of my favorite saints doing today?” Pastor John bellowed, his body nearly filling the doorframe.
The frail body in the bed before him was a stark contrast. A weak voice spoke. “Not at my best today, I’m afraid.”
John pulled a chair up to the bedside. “And why is that, my dear?”
Minnie’s pale face turned toward him. “I just don’t think God cares anymore. This life has been so hard.”
John took her hand, startled at how cold and fragile it felt. “He told us it would be. You know that.”
Minnie stared off into the past.
“I lost my baby.”
John blinked slowly. “Yes, Minnie, and through that, you were able to counsel countless women who came through the church doors, women who had been through the same thing. You gave them strength and hope.”
“My husband left me.”
John’s heart ached for the elderly woman. “God used that to make you stronger, again, giving you compassion for the widows learning to live on their own.”
“Now my body is giving out. I can’t fight anymore.”
John pulled out his pocket-sized Bible. Tapping it in his hands, he told her “James says, ‘Count it all joy when you fall into trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.’ God’s given you these trials for a reason. He considers you worthy to suffer for His name’s sake. If everything had gone well in your life, you wouldn’t be the amazing strong woman you are now.”
Minnie huffed. “Do I look strong to you?”
John pointed to her heart. “In here you are, and that’s all that matters.”
Minnie looked into John’s bear-like face. “There’s more, the worst of it all.”
John, concerned, leaned toward her as she whispered “This hospital food stinks.”
John threw back his head, his belly shaking with laughter. “Oh Miss Minnie, I knew you were still in there somewhere. That’s the feisty old gal I know. Glad to see you’ve still got your spunk.”
Minnie smiled for a moment, then winced. Sombering, John fixed his eyes on hers. “Are you in much pain?”
The slight nod of her head was like a punch to his gut. Oh, how he hated to see this dear child of God suffering.
A nurse entered the room, took one look at Minnie, and called John away from the bedside.
“It won’t be much longer now, Pastor. Is there any family we can call?”
John slowly shook his head. “No blood relatives, I’m afraid.”
“Then perhaps you’d better stay a while longer,” she whispered.
“I’ll do that.”
John settled back into his chair and watched Minnie’s eyes close. Pushing aside all the thoughts of sermons to write and people to call, he sat quietly. He was grateful God had given him the chance to be here. Judging by the flowers overflowing the room, Minnie had had several guests since he had last visited, but he alone had the privilege of ushering her into eternity.
As the minutes stretched into hours, John’s back stiffened. Still, he maintained his bedside vigil, holding on to her frail hand. Minnie hadn’t moved in about an hour, but the steady rise and fall of her chest assured him she was still with him.
Suddenly, a momentary flicker of her eyelids startled him. She turned her head towards him, but was staring beyond him.
“Pastor,” she whispered, “I see a light.”
John watched in rapt attention as the peace flowed over her face. Minnie was going home.
Leaning over and kissing her forehead, he whispered “Well done, God’s good and faithful servant.”
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