My college roommate, Lynne, celebrated her birthday last week. I couldn’t come up with a gift to send her that didn’t seem trivial, silly, or pointless so I finally decided on just a card with a heartfelt sentiment written in it. It took a bit of going back and forth to find a card that was appropriate. I finally settled on one that didn’t scream Happy Birthday but it was all fancy and glittery. It had a portion of a scripture verse dye cut on the front. The verse was Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
One of the earliest memories I have of Lynne as my roommate is that she was disciplined about her skin care and her Bible reading. She would often combine the two, lathering up her face with a pore-reducing cream and then sit cross-legged on her bed to read her Bible while the cream dried into a tight mask and worked its magic on her skin. She took the time to tend to those things and the result was a beautiful Lynne, inside and out.
Lynne had thick blonde hair back then and I was always amazed at her prowess with a blow dryer. She could have her hair dried and styled in just a couple of minutes and look good all day. Today, her hair is cropped close to her head. She has been off and on chemotherapy now since November 2012.
Cancer is not beautiful. It is ugly and painful and hurts not only the one inflicted, but almost everyone around them as well. Lynne has managed, although not necessarily easily, to find some beauty in the experience. She told me the other day that it has been twenty-six months since her diagnosis, but the blessing is that she’s only been on chemo for twelve of those months. What a beautiful way to see it. No wonder I couldn’t find a suitable Hallmark sentiment.
I can’t tell you how many times in the past twenty-six months she’s said something like that which left me inspired and overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of her life. Lynne may not sit cross-legged on her bed any more, but she does still read her Bible and that is where she has found much of her beauty regiment these days. She found it in Jesus’ words written in Mark 5:36.
“Don’t be afraid, just believe.” Jesus was saying that to people around him because a 12-year old girl was dying. Actually, the blood in her veins had ceased to flow. She was already dead.
While Jesus was on his way to tend to the child and her family, a woman’s fingertips grazed the hem of his clothes. This woman had been suffering from a hemorrhage that had been flowing since the year that little girl was born. She reached out to Jesus and the gushing of blood stopped.
Jesus went on to the child’s house, took her by the hand and sent blood coursing through her veins again. She got up and ate something.
The people Jesus spoke those words to were troubled about a child dying. The bleeding woman was discouraged about living. Like cancer, nothing about either of those circumstances was beautiful.
I can only imagine what that little girl told her girlfriends afterwards, or what the woman said to her family. They probably said little about their illnesses and more about touching Jesus. He is the one who brought the beauty and made the story worth retelling.
This was originally posted February 8, 2015 on The Press and Standard's website: