My doctors vary in opinion about me leaving the country with low blood counts. One seems genuinely excited and offers to give names of foreign colleagues in case I get in trouble. Another tends to worry a bit more, but is encouraging nonetheless. Sometimes I remember to bring them souvenirs.
Because my bone marrow is so compromised, I must receive platelets every week and red blood cells every two weeks. Consequently, we always schedule infusions as close to the end of a trip as possible. After getting home from Ecuador in June, fellow travelers dropped me off at the clinic on their way home from the airport. I thank God for friends… and for blood and platelet donors.
Not all cancer patients are followers of Jesus, but you might be surprised to see how much faith and kindness fills waiting rooms. I sometimes think our country could learn lessons about how to get along if more time were spent among the sick and dying. Black, White, Asian, Hispanic… race matters little as we all have brokenness in common.
The morning after we returned from Israel, I entered the room where patients wait to have blood drawn and sat between an older African American gentleman and a younger Caucasian patient. In the course of our conversation, we learned that the older man regularly drives his brother, a veteran of Vietnam, to the hospital from the north Georgia mountains for treatment. His brother is one of thousands who contracted cancer or other deadly diseases from exposure to Agent Orange.
As the three of us visited, I marveled at the way strangers can naturally praise God in the course of common conversation. Each of us encouraged the others. When the younger patient was called over to the nurse’s station, the older gentleman pointed at him walking away and quietly said to me: “That’s a good man… the kind of man you want by your side.”
This is the witness God loves to see in our confused, angry world. Jesus, who also lived in a confused, angry world, let the character of His Father outshine the darkness of the enemy. He was (and is) full of grace and truth. Jesus is Truth… so He is always righteous and just. But the sons and daughters of Adam can never measure up to God’s holiness, so He offers grace… and, thankfully, His resource is boundless.
Our young married friends Slava and Alina visited our home on a recent Sunday, telling of efforts to bring the lost sheep of Belarus into the Kingdom of God. Someone asked: “How do you share Jesus?” Slava answered: “In Christ, we have all been given blessings from the Holy Spirit. When true love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are observed by our people, they want to know the Source… then we share the Gospel.”
May we understand and remember the blessings we’ve been given… and may the glory of Jesus be plainly seen in this world of people our Father loves.
“From the fullness of grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:16-17
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
“We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” I Corinthians 2:12