"Praise God with acclamation and in His gifts rejoice.
Each day finds its vocation responding to His voice.
Soon years on earth are past; but time we spend expressing,
the love of God brings blessing that will forever last.
Yet even though I suffer the world's unpleasantness,
and though the days grow rougher and bring me great distress,
that day of bliss divine, which knows no end or measure,
and Christ who is my pleasure, forever shall be mine."
A dear saint from our church family just went home to be with Jesus, and I had the great privilege of visiting her in hospice during one of her final weeks. The most recent time we were together she was wearing a wig, planning the upcoming women's retreat, and encouraging the 20 or so women who attended her two weekly Bible studies, despite her ongoing battle with cancer. So now, witnessing her wispy bald head and intermittent nausea just a couple months later was sobering to say the least.
My friend and I prayed before entering her hospice room. Not wanting to further tax her weakening body, we hoped instead to encourage her through her time of distress and bring some comfort. But after about 30 seconds in her room it became clear who was going to encourage whom. For the next two hours, we were on the receiving end of the most glorious picture of earthly hope anchored in heaven I have ever witnessed.
Our teacher for the day was in obvious discomfort. Immobilized in a reclining wheelchair in the center of the room, she had water and a couple buckets for nausea within arm's reach of her quilt-covered body. Yet, she did not shy away from letting us see her struggle. In fact, it was as though she saw something priceless tethered to the other end of her suffering body that turned the very location of her travail into holy ground. And most generously she invited us into that sacred space to witness with her the glory for which she was destined.
She personified St. Paul's words: "This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
As I sat in her clear sight line to eternity, my own vision began recalibrating to see the important over the immediate, and I left more certain in the reality of eternal glory and encouraged in my faith than I have been in years. Because my saintly friend chose to find her vocation responding to God's voice and sharing God's love with us -- even in the middle of her pain -- we got to witness the weight of glory being formed in her and us!
THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, may we ever be entering and inviting others into the eternal love that gives us hope in the midst of even our most distressing earthly struggles! Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by AmyRuth Bartlett. It is based on the hymn, "From God Can Nothing Move Me," which is found on page 713 in the Lutheran Service Book.
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