Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Of the many friends God has placed in my life, few have given me as much joy and laughter as Charlene Ward. She and her husband, Billy, have become not only friends, but co-workers in Christ as well. We have shared many church services together, shopped together, shared meals together, and, have laughed and cried on each other's shoulder. She is a dear soul, an inspiration, and a true lover of Christ.
I met Charlene in 2007. I had just moved to North Carolina and was missing my family so dreadfully. She sort of "mothered" me (even though she is four years younger than I), cheering me up, and making me feel that I was part of her family. I will always be grateful to her for her attentiveness and her loving concern for someone that, at that time, she hardly knew. But then, that's how Charlene is---she loves you from the moment she meets you. She has become one of the dearest friends I have ever known.
Almost three years ago, Charlene was diagnosed with colon cancer. As devastating as that diagnosis was, she has never once lost her faith. In the midst of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, she would visit our church, always with words of encouragement and faith. She referred to the scriptures often, always looking for the promises of God regarding healing and deliverance. Not one time have I ever heard her voice doubt or unbelief about God's healing power. I have never heard her become despondent or low in spirit but, rather, she reflects in every conversation her faith and trust in the God she serves. Her husband, Billy, calls her "Charla Darla". He would sometimes say to me during this time, "Pray for my Charla Darla". I prayed, oh, how I prayed.
Recently, Charlene was told that she had developed tumors in her brain. Radiation began almost immediately and she has suffered the side effects of loss of appetite, weakness, fatigue, and severe pain. She came to our Christmas banquet this year---she and her husband and I shared the table with our pastor and his wife, Mike and Susan. We all enjoyed each other's company and, even though she was weak and unable to mingle like she usually does, her smile was intact, her words were uplifting, and her faith in God unwavering. I looked at her and thought to myself, "I love my friend so very much. I cannot imagine life without her.". She is such an inspiration to me and I know she is to many others as well.
So, I continue to pray for my friend. I pray for her strength, her spirit, and her endurance, as well as for her healing. I am asking God for the miracle I know He is able to perform. As I pray for my friend, I am also praying for my own faith. It is difficult to see those we love suffer and not understand the "why". Several years ago, when family members were enduring horrendous suffering, I sought God regarding the purpose of such testing in the lives of the faithful. The answer came to me in this way: there are times when God gets a greater glory out of the faith birthed during adversity than any other time. In the midst of suffering and trial, faith becomes refined, polished, and reflective of God Himself. It is also during this time that we draw closer to God out of sheer necessity---we must be as close to the God of all comfort as possible when we are at our lowest in life. If this is the case, then my friend is surely as close to our Father-God as one can get in this earthly existence.
Please join me in keeping Charlene in prayer. She is a bright spot in the lives of all those who love her and she is a glorious reflection of faith in the midst of adversity. I know God is able to do whatever I can believe Him for---and I do believe Him for healing for my friend. Would you believe with me? Believe with me for "Charla Darla". Pray with me for my friend.