While teaching an intensive class in Fortaleza last month I was asked by a dear friend to pay a visit to a friend of hers. I was so involved with class preparation that this seemed like an inconvenient interruption. But like the persistent widow my friend kept asking me. So I went. On the way I realized that my friend probably wanted me to have some words of comfort for her friend, Rosa. You see, I found out that Rosa had inoperable, terminal cancer and her days were few. This had finally opened my eyes to the needs of both my friend and Rosa. So late Wednesday afternoon we got on a bus and headed to Rosa’s house. “So Lord, what would you have me say to this precious saint of yours?” Like a flash Psalm 16 came to my mind. As I pored over in Portuguese I felt a peace and certainly about God’s direction.
When I saw Rosa she showed the ravages of the disease in her body but not in her spirit. Peace radiated from her like a welcoming warm soft light. I learned that she was going to have a procedure done in two days, but just routine, to clear out her lungs. She showed no signs of anxiety; only trust and faith. As I read the Psalm aloud I inwardly wondered about the references to death. But God reassured me that this was His word to her.
I was asked to pray, which is always a challenge in Portuguese. The more formal speech, like using thee and thou, always trips me up. But it was amazing. The presence of Jesus was so real that I prayed like I rarely have prayed; slowly, clearly, and beyond my ability.
I left feeling encouraged as only can happen when you are in the presence of someone who loves Jesus passionately. I was reassured that Jesus had Rosa’s life in His hands.
You can imagine my surprise when I heard that Rosa had gone to be with Jesus the next Monday. As I looked over Psalm 16 again I rejoiced that He had not abandoned her to the grave. And now, yes, now, she is experiencing eternal pleasures at His right hand. This is our resurrection hope and reality.