BILL AND SERENE
I met eighty-two-year-old Bill a few years ago. He was in a group of old men who were kind enough to let a young smart-aleck like me join them for Bible study, prayer, and breakfast each week. Shortly after we met, Bill's wife, Serene, was told she had cancer and it wouldn't be cured. We prayed, sure that God can cure all things, and this cancer was one of those. She got steadily worse. Weeks slipped into months, and Bill hired a nurse to provide the medical care Serene needed. She learned to respect their prayer and study and worship times, as she tended skillfully to Serene's needs. After a year, Serene couldn't get out much at all. Bill would come one week in tears, praying for the cancer to go and the pain to stop. The next week he would come with a stern look, resolutely asking God to go ahead and take his sixty-year bride home, and thus end her pain. He'd miss breakfast, staying there on his knees, arguing with God over what would be best for Serene - and asking why He didn't get on with it. After about two years of good days and bad ones, steadily getting worse and worse, the nurse who was a non-churched Roman Catholic, started joining them for prayer and reading Psalms. She'd ask what things meant, and she watched them go through all the pain and agony in the world without anything but their faith to carry them through. One Saturday, Bill came in smiling a tired smile. He told us that the nurse had prayed a believer's prayer on Thursday with him at Serene's bedside. She had met Christ in their life-style witness. On Monday morning, Serene went home, having fought the good fight she was finally relieved of her duties in this world. At Wednesday evening worship at a neighboring church to Bill's house, the nurse's entire family - sister, husband, and three kids - answered an altar call to devote their lives to a relationship with Jesus Christ. Bill has since joined Serene, but their not giving up on life, waiting for God's timing, was just the thing needed to produce spiritual fruit that will continue to grow and refresh and encourage.
Was it hard? I don't know if I could bear it. I am not that strong, this I know. I am only glad I don't have to be. He is faithful to give everything we need.