The woman was so happy sitting next to Lisa. Her name was Maria. She could not stop talking about how she was glad her husband had been promoted to a new position.
Maria was so delighted and could not control her excitement while Lisa was thinking about the fear that had engulfed her within prior to coming to church that Sunday morning. Women in the church have always considered Lisa very attractive. She was either bragging about her beauty in order to make other wives in the church jealous, or she was telling other women to stay off her husband because she had it together. Every Sunday, she would arrive a few minutes prior to service when most people were already sitting down. This allowed other wives and women of the church to turn their heads as she walked delicately on her high-heel shoes down the aisle.
She always dressed in beautiful bright colors. She would leave a trail of expensive cologne down the church aisle. Lisa knew other women were watching as she walked through the congregation. Her two children usually followed after to her pew position. She was intentionally appealing to other women.
Some of them had an envy-love relationship with her.
She did not care; she just wanted to be an outstanding wife in the church. In the past couple of weeks, Lisa had changed her style of outfit from dressing to envy or annoy other women, to dressing to be ordinary. The challenges she faced had started to humble her. She had stopped wearing her expensive jewelries and clothes while avoiding the drama of walking to her pew position. Lisa had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She had gone through the surgery and radiotherapy.
The last time she visited her doctor, there was a scare the second breast might be going through some changes. On the same day, the doctor told her he was not sure whether the first breast was completely cured because of possible metastasis. This particular Sunday was the day prior to seeing her doctor for a complete workup. In her mind, she was wondering whether she would have to undergo removal of the second breast, or whether it would be disfigured by surgery to be followed by some reconstruction. Fear started to torment her.
Her visit to the pastor was designed to calm her fears. Her husband Anthony Anderson attended the same church with her. He was one of the church Deacons.
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Lisa was not listening to her husband. She thought she had enough of his inspirational messages through the Bible while lying next to him every night. In a few minutes, he was fast asleep. Lisa could not sleep, wondering how she would beat this cancer. The fear within her grew day by day.
Lisa was waiting for her turn to see Pastor Gary when a man touched her shoulder from the back. She was the second next to be called to see the pastor. She could not wait. She knew it was the voice of her husband. What would she do when her husband suggested they go home while other churchwomen were looking on? She did not want to make a spectacle of herself. She did not want to make any scene while other churchwomen were looking on.
She got up, straightened her dress, and followed her husband as the high heel shoes made a knocking tap-tap noise, faintly down the hall as husband and wife walked out the door. She was a little angry with her husband. Anthony had prevented her from seeing the pastor.
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They discussed at home that she wanted to talk to Pastor Gary so he could give her some words of comfort and also pray with her. Nevertheless, she obediently followed her husband, who had gotten tired of waiting in the parking lot for his wife for forty-five minutes after the service. You can go see Pastor Gary! Does it ever come across to you that you make too much of a big deal out of your looks? Why me? Seeing his wife weeping, Anthony pulled off the road to a shopping center parking lot about two miles from their home.
He bowed his head and started to pray with Lisa. He prayed to God to strengthen her faith and not to trust in man, but to trust in God. After the brief prayer, Anthony took his wife shopping. Lisa was in no mood to shop. They both walked, holding hands, all over the shopping center.
Back in the car, Lisa thanked her husband for being so sensitive to her emotional pain. Both Lisa and Anthony arrived at their home in the affluent area of town.
Instead of getting out of the car, both of them stayed in the BMW having a husband and wife talk. Anthony told Lisa that he wanted her cured, but what happened if God had another plan? He explained to her, he had seen so many people in the church with their hopes so high. They hoped for God to heal them or their loved ones of one disease or another. He made his wife understand that by holding on to the possibility of cure, she and her kids might be disappointed.
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Hoping for a cure is good, but she continued to set herself up for continuous FEAR. What happened if God did not cure her? Would she still believe in God on her deathbed? What happened if the disease took away her beauty; would she still believe in God? Perhaps God was using the disease to transform his wife. Was she learning the lessons God wanted her to learn and share such lessons with other women in such a situation?
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Lisa continued laughing while Anthony was looking at her. He started smiling too as he was watching his wife laughing so hard. They have not made love in over two months. After her breast cancer surgery, Lisa thought she lost her sex appeal because the breasts were very important to her. Those beautiful breasts were part of the physical elegance of her beauty.
Consequently, she had been avoiding intimacy with her husband. Anthony was 50 years old, and Lisa was 40 at the time the cancer was diagnosed. He was wondering if he had already lost his masculinity. Some diseases tend to rob men of their masculinity these days. He had been nervous about this without telling anybody. He had learned from some men that once the man loses his masculinity to a disease, some wives start to torture their husbands, constantly demanding sex. Everybody has something to worry about," Anthony responded.
Both Anthony and Lisa looked at each other and busted into laughter at the same time. Somebody has to take care of the children! That conversation between Anthony and Lisa, in their driveway after church was more therapeutic for both of them. They both realized that fear was a demonic spirit they both faced like any other couple from time to time. They decided not to allow fear to petrify and prevent them from enjoying life regardless of whatever situation they found themselves. Life places daily challenges before everybody, including sickness and failure of personal challenges within the family.
Making a better person out of each person is part of the purpose of the storms in the life of a Christian. Every day is not going to be like Christmas. We have the choice to suffer due to our negative emotional reactions to the events around us. Many times we tend to worry more about things that will never happen, called the unknown fears. People have suffered in silence for many years over the possibility of some bad events that never happen. What happens if bad things happen to us?
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The question is, can we learn to trust in the Lord, or do we learn to trust in ourselves and place ourselves in painful emotional bondage for years? What is the purpose of dying before death comes? Shakespeare in Julius Caesar said, " Cowards have died many times before their deaths.
The best thing that can happen to a Christian is the worst thing that can happen. If he survives, he stays around praising God as a testimony for others. Although we face many life challenges, just like the eagle rises above the storms, we too can learn to rise above the storms of life and find peace, even in the midst of our afflictions.
Should we Christians be afraid of death and stop living because we think the angel of death is one day going to be knocking at the door? Will he be grabbing us against our will, while we are screaming and kicking, or begging for more time?