Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer – Romans 12:12
One of the blessings of our recent trip to Honduras was getting to see a lady named Maria who embodies this verse. This is the third time I’ve cared for her, which is unusual for short-term missions. She has severe diabetes and has had one leg amputated. On our first trip she had a serious infection in her remaining foot and I believe it is a miracle from God that her foot was healed. It was a joy to see her with a healed foot on my last visit. On our current visit she shared with me that she had had a heart attack a few months ago. She said she is alive because she never gives up and lives everyday to the Lord. She told me about a friend of hers who recently died. He had a lot of illness like her, but he got tired of being sick and going to doctors, so he quit going. He had given up. He’s dead now.
It reminded me how important hope and joy are in the recovery of patients. Proverbs 15:13 says “a happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” Maria’s positive attitude and faith in the Lord sustains her despite her difficult circumstances. The last time I visited, I wrote about Maria’s joy. Her joy sustained her in difficult circumstances. As the Psalmist says:
“Why are you downcast O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 43:5
She continues to praise the Lord and that joy sustains her spirit and also her body. Someday her body will give out and she’ll go to see her Lord. Then her joy will be complete. But in the meantime, she lives for Him and inspires those like me who meet her and are better for having met her.