Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Journal of a Living Lady #378

Nancy White Kelly

“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows but Jesus,” goes the old spiritual. Jump ahead a century and half. The words are still relevant regardless of race. Everywhere we turn we see difficulty.

Right now I can name ten friends who are struggling with either cancer or stroke. I have close relatives who have recently lost their livelihood. They wish they had a mule and forty acres. Personally I would pass on the gift of a four-legged mule since I am married to a lovable two-legged one. Land would be a welcomed gift, but with real estate in the dumps, it can’t be counted on as a fluid asset.

There is so much sadness in this world that you’d think no hope exists. I can vouch for the physical, emotional and financial discomfort that accompanies metastatic cancer. I have aggressively battled this disease off and on for twenty-five years. Throw in kidney failure and dialysis and I ought to qualify for the 9-lives trophy. A friend calls me “Mrs. Kitty” for good reason. How many people have been in hospice twice?

Buddy and I have attended church regularly since we were young children. It isn’t a mere habit, but our source of strength to keep functioning in today’s demoralizing environment. Last week was different.

I teach an adult Bible study class on Sunday mornings. This week a young man headed to the Peace Corp filled in for me so I could participate in an unusual program to be presented during the worship service. Few people knew about it ahead of time.
Spurred by something similar seen on the Internet, members of an appropriately named “Praise Committee” decided to do our own version of “Cardboard Testimonies.”
Against the solo choral backdrop of “Amazing Grace,” thirty-one people slowly walked one by one to the center of the church stage holding a ragged piece of old cardboard. While they stood there silently, the congregation focused on the individualized and succinct statement written in bold lettering.

Each sign simply stated what difficulty that person had experienced. After a few seconds, the individual turned the cardboard over which revealed the positive outcome. Those short testimonies were awesome. Many related to a close encounters with mortality due to illness or accidents. Others told of depression, fire, and deaths of children. One has a spouse serving time. Two of the participants were in wheel chairs.

Each cardboard testimony told a short story of desperation; all gave praise to God for His help in coping and over-coming. Most of the participants were familiar church members, but probably only a few congregants knew the difficult circumstances their pew mates had endured. Only God knew all those stories.

The cardboard testimonies were a great reminder that in the midst of all our troubles, hope exists. We don’t hear that good news often enough.

Hope springs from the eternal.

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