When my young husband was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, the oncologist told us that the tumor had grown to the size of a softball and only surgery could remove it, along with his entire hip and part of his femur. And from there we could only wait and watch for the cancer to metastasize to his lungs.
That night, I dreamed that we were walking down a familiar backcountry road together and suddenly the season changed from Spring to Winter. In seconds, the sun was gone and a cold wind was whipping us.
When I woke up, in the pit of my stomach I felt that the road was going to be long and traveled only under stormy skies, and it would end in total darkness. This was our new reality. Even though I profess to be a Christian, I had lost hope and could only feel the deepest despair.
In my mind, my faith in Jesus Christ was something separate. And I felt it would be foolish to ask Him for help when the medical evidence was so, devastatingly, clear. I didn’t want to ask Him for a miracle because I didn’t want to be disappointed.
As a Christian, I wouldn’t say that I lost my faith, more that I set it aside for better times. Which I now realize is like holding off using your oxygen mask until the plane stops crashing. But despite my refusal to turn my heart over to Him, He found ways to enter my life and my heart. And the angels he sent were other women.
I am not a perfect disciple, but in His name they came and served me. I don’t always have charity in my heart towards my husband, my kids, or my situation in life, but because of their love for Him they came and lifted me.
They don’t know my history and yet they spoke of my future and they spoke glory and happiness and rest. They showed me through their eyes the ways that I was being supernaturally protected and held up by the One who holds all of us in His hand. They came and cried with me and allowed me to cry when it felt forbidden and dangerous to open those floodgates because surely they would never stop.
They sat with me until I could smile again. Actual strangers contacted me through acquaintances from church and set up meetings where they asked how they could serve my family during our time of crisis. They told me that, as mothers and as women, they wanted to show up for me. Me, whom they had never met.
Me, the stranger on the road to Jericho who had fallen on hard times. They made room in their hearts, in their prayers, and in their busy daily schedules for my family. They fed us, literally and spiritually.
And each act of service, each loving kindness rendered, cracked my closed heart open a little wider until it was so full of Jesus’ love that it was spilling out my eyes and a prayer of gratitude was spilling from my lips.
My husband and I have asked each other so many times, ‘Why did this happen? What is the lesson?’
I testify that my faith in my Savior has been renewed and strengthened because of the work of his disciples during this season of my life.
I believe that angels hide inside everyday people and you never see their wings until you feel them wrapped around you.