Focal Passages: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 12:7-10
Her name was Ellen. I met her about five years go. She was a petite lady with a generous smile. When I first met her, I did not realize she had a progressive illness. In fact, you could not determine this from her words and actions. However, as time and our relationship as pastor and church member developed, I learned about her struggle. Over time, this progressive illness took a greater and greater toll. Even as her health deteriorated, her attitude never failed. She would often say to me, “You’ll never hear me complain. As long as I am able I am going to keep going.” And that she did. I remember the day in her hospice room where she said, “I’m fine; don’t worry about me, as I know where I am going.” The next day she went to be with her Lord.
What do we need to consider when God allows sickness to come upon one of His children? Sometimes He allows healing. Sometimes He allows sickness to continue until death.
Nevertheless, everything is for His glory. He promises in His Word that He will provide the grace a person needs during trials. Paul in these verses pleads with God, and God revealed to him that He would provide the needed grace to live and exalt Christ in the midst of this trial. I believe God allows a Christian to have a disease just as an unbeliever has, so the world can see the difference.
Ellen, through her grace received from God, was able to teach those of us around her some very valuable lessons. She taught us that we should never give up in the midst of hard trials. She taught us that joy is possible even in the pain. She showed us that confidence in God during tribulations brings hope. She shared her confidence with everyone she could. She displayed that one can live with hope in the midst of trying circumstances. God used her to teach a church that grace is available and possible for those who trust in Him. I hope that if you are going through this difficulty that the life of Ellen will help you also.