shifted uncomfortably for the umpteenth time as Melody's youth
pastor, Nathaniel Reeth, poured his heart out to all the teens
in the room. The first half of the sermon was about the necessity
of staying close to God, which didn't make much sense to Carol.
The last half was what struck her: the necessity of having
God in your life. When Pastor Reeth started talking about life
after death, she listened intently. By the time the invitation
was called, Carol knew what she had to do. As her first tear started
to fall, she scooted out of the pew and made her way towards the
back door. Carol stepped into the hallway and leaned against the
"Carol?" Melody called as she slipped
out of the auditorium. "Carol, what's wrong?"
"Me." Carol replied. "I can't believe
that Mom and Dad have been right all along. It was me who was
wrong." By now the tears had increased rapidly.
"Carol, it's okay. You believe everything
the preacher said, don't you?"
Carol nodded. "I do now."
"And do you want to receive Jesus
into your heart?"
She nodded again.
"That's great! Now all you have
to do is tell Him. You just have to repeat after me. Ready? Dear
sat in the waiting room of Mercy Hospital, her face buried in
her hands. It seemed that while every other pregnant woman got
to enjoy feeling her child kick and squirm in her belly; Joanne's
mother just had pains.
Life just isn't fair.
"What?" A male voice over her made
her jump. She hadn't realized she had said it aloud.
"Nothing." Joanne muttered, keeping
her head down.
The man took the seat next to her
and leaned forward in an attempt to see her face. "You sure?"
She nodded, still looking down.
The man gave up and walked over to the front desk. "I'm here to
see Mrs. Laurie Fowler, please." He said to the receptionist.
Joanne's head finally came up. "How
do you know my mom?" she asked the stranger.
"I'm her pastor." He turned toward
her. "Pastor Cleaveford. You must be Joanne. Your mother talks
so much about you. I wish I could've met you under more pleasant
Joanne got up and started pacing.
"If the God you talk about is real, then why is my mom
going through so much pain?" she asked through clenched teeth.
"It's often difficult for us to
understand God's ways, because His ways are as far from ours as
the heaven is from the earth. But we do know that He works out
even bad circumstances
for the good of them that love Him."
Joanne looked away. She wasn't buying
his preacher talk.
"Another thing we can be sure of
is that God knows your mom can handle this. God doesn't give us
anything he knows we can't handle."
"And how do you know that?"
Joanne whipped around to face him.
"Because he published a book and
gave it to me, and it says so in that book." the pastor stated
"Let me see this book." Joanne said.
This stranger definitely had her attention now.
Pastor Cleaveford pulled a small
book out of his back pocket that had New Testament scrolled
across the front. "The whole Bible is much bigger; this is just
half of it," he stated as he flipped through it. "Here it is.
1 Corinthians 10:13, 'There hath no temptation taken you but such
as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer
you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation
also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.'"
The pastor closed the book and held
it protectively in his hands. "The end of that verse is saying
that if we have a problem or a temptation in our life then God
can help us bear it, but He can't help us unless we ask Him to."
" In your mother's case, I'm
sure she's asking God to help her get through this; now all she
can do is trust Him to take care of her. And in reference to your
question about God putting your mother through pain, sometimes
God places a trial into our lives so He can get our attention
and help us realize our need for Him."
Joanne crossed her arms over her
chest and raised her eyebrows. "My mom already talks about 'her
relationship' with God, reads about Him, even sings about
Him all the time. Why would God need to get her attention?"
"Actually, I believe that God is
trying to get your attention through this, Joanne."
Joanne was speechless.
Could this God who supposedly
loved everyone be putting her mother through terrible pain just
so He could get her attention? Was it that important to Him?
She was just about to ask the man all the questions rolling around
inside her head when a doctor entered the waiting room and called
her name. As she turned around to face him, she heard the kind
pastor end their conversation by saying softly: "Just think about
these things when you get the time, Joanne."
Oh, you have no idea how much
I'll think about them. Joanne thought. For now, though, she
would just have to push all those thoughts aside. She would have
plenty of time to think later. Joanne bit her lip and slowly walked
toward the doctor.