Mara spat the words back at me like they were barbed arrows dripping with poison. “Abundant life? What a joke!”
I still have a rock in my stomach and a lump in my throat. How can I convince her?
I tried. I reminded her that God loves her. She laughed – her first laugh in weeks. I got really close – she could no doubt smell my breath – and clutched her arm tightly. “You know about facts and feelings. The fact is that Jesus died for you. How you feel doesn’t change that fact.”
She shook me off. Her response made my heart plummet and race, all at once. “Fact: it would be better if I died and gave the world a break.”
Everything I say seems like a cliché. As empty as the womb of an old spinster who has spent a lifetime longing for children. Her parting words echo still in my ears still as I lie on my bed trying to sleep.
“Open your eyes. Look around. There are no roses to smell. It is a black world spiraling towards destruction. Face facts. God doesn’t give a hoot.”
The red lights glow in the dark. 3:01. Having exhausted myself with worry, counted sheep forwards and backwards and done the usual relaxation exercises, I finally do the sensible thing. Pray.
Lord, how can I convince her? You love her. You want her to have life in all its fullness.
There’s nothing you can say, dear girl. All you can do is keep living for me. Count your blessings, daughter. You’re healthy. You’ve been given a lot. There is a great deal expected of you too. Don’t worry – the responsibility is not all on your shoulders – just keep walking with me.
But Lord, I’m not here to talk about me. It’s Mara. What is going on? How can I help?
Just BE. Be who you are in me. Get your focus off her and onto me. Haven’t I said that I give life in abundance?
Focus, dear child. On me. Live YOUR life – the full life I’ve given you. Trust me. Pray for her – but focus on me. Do you think I’m incapable of holding her secure? I have placed my Spirit in her heart as much as I have in yours. I have chosen her as clearly as I have you. Did I ever promise to keep my people from hardship?
Did I ever promise my people perfect health and happiness?
Not in this life. But……
Did I ever promise to never leave you or forsake my people?
Yes. So why……?
I have not forsaken Mara. Life is tough now. Hope is flimsy – she is hanging on by a cobweb. But that isn’t your problem. It is mine. She can’t see beyond her current blackness, but I’m holding on to her. Of course I love her. You were right about the facts and feelings thing. But you were wrong to lecture her. Pray for her, child, but focus on me.
Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Look not within, but to me. Feel the warmth of my embrace. Visualize the brilliant light. Sense the rock-solid security. Mara is there too. She can’t feel it right now. It isn’t her fault – it is the sickness. But don’t you start meddling. Just be a good friend to her as she journeys along this difficult road. Focus on me.
Yes Lord. But why her?
Trust me. Satan has done his best to destroy my creation. That’s why Mara is suffering. I’ll bring her through it. You’ll have your share of hardship some day. You’ll need Mara’s friendship when that day comes, just as she needs your friendship now. That’s yet another facet of the abundant life I give – the body of believers. Now, stop fussing, focus and get on with the full life I’ve given you.
Daylight floods the room. I must have slept through the alarm. Just as well it is the weekend. Curled up in my pajamas in the overstuffed armchair, a cup of tea in my hand and Bible on my lap, I thank God for our church family. I ask for help to focus. Then I pick up the phone.
“Mara? Hey, do you have time for coffee? No, I’m not going to Bible-bash you again. No, there is no agenda. I just want to spend time with a good friend, okay? Great. See you at our favourite cafe at eleven.”
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