COMMENTARY: Be of Good Cheer
Some folks are really scared right now. Deadly, fast-spreading viruses like COVID-19 have that effect. Fear is understandable.
I’ve felt that fear.
When I was 12-years old, my daddy suffered a massive double subarachnoid brain aneurysm hemorrhage while far away at National Guard summer training. He was given three days to live. I was told I’d never see him again.
I was terrified.
On my knees in my grandma’s bedroom, I begged God to save him.
And He did.
Doctors said Dad was the first person in medical history to survive his exact trauma — a miracle, they said. But they warned Dad’s life would be lived in a vegetative state. When he awoke from his coma, they cheered but told us he’d never live a normal life.
Daddy returned home really skinny and remained weak for months, but you know what? He quickly resumed his activities. He jumped back into his high energy job, coached my siblings and me in sports, cracked us up with his silly antics, worked on our broken down cars, and continued his ministry to the elderly too.
That experience at a young age bolstered my faith and taught me the power of passionate, fervent prayer when lifted up to a loving God. I’m not saying He heals every illness — Daddy’s own Mama died when he was only 3-months old.
Life on this earth is full of suffering, but when God does heal, there’s no denying His tender and gracious touch.
That’s Daddy and me in the photograph. At 82-years old, Daddy still exercises, he’s a bundle of energy, he’s still making us laugh, and still visits those old folks. Many are younger than him!
I’ve witnessed my whole life as Daddy has put “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39) into action. He learned it from Jesus. I think it stuck with him better than most folks because his mama loved him so much she denied TB treatments to protect Daddy in her womb — she gave her life for his. The poverty and motherless childhood he suffered gave him extra empathy too. I’ve witnessed him going out of his way to love and serve the least of these — the frailest of the elderly, children with extreme intellectual disabilities, desperate folks looking for employment and the grief-stricken. He knows how it feels to be weak, to be labeled as different, to be lonely for his mama, and scared.
He’s always happy too; even though he’s suffered many hurts and painful losses. If you asked him why he’s full of joy, he’d tell you, “I put my trust and faith in Jesus.” I’ve heard him say that at least a million times. He recently told me that every time he walks up or down a flight of stairs, with every step, he says, “Praise the Lord.”
Dad’s faith is contagious. Thirty-six years after his hemorrhage, the medical corpsman who cared for Daddy sought him out. God restored his faith through Daddy’s suffering. Daddy responded, “What an honor. That’s my Jesus!”
Daddy sees things from a heavenly perspective — his mama’s legacy. She didn’t have a choice about leaving her precious baby and children or leaving her grieving husband to raise seven kids alone in abject poverty in rural Arkansas. But she did make the choice to give Daddy life and to leave her family covered in prayer and faith in a good God.
Daddy’s life was harder than anyone’s I know, but it’s taught him to put struggles into perspective. When Coronavirus panic led to a toilet paper shortage, Daddy joked, “Heck, when I was a kid we used the Sears Catalog in the outhouse.” Laughing, he added, “I admit, the slick pages don’t work!”
Then, true-to-form he put Coronavirus into a faith perspective too, saying, “Why would I be afraid of some virus when the Lord has delivered me from so much more?”
I want to be more like Daddy. I don’t want to allow the fears of this world to consume me.
I want to keep my eyes on the One who said, “In the world, you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33b.
Life on Planet Earth guarantees uncertain circumstances, scary illnesses, broken hearts, and unfair trials, but there’s a good and loving God Who desires to deliver us through them all.
Rebecca Friedrichs is the founder of For Kids & Country, author of Standing Up to Goliath, and a 28-year public school teacher who led the fight against the divisive tactics, politics and corruption of teachers’ unions as lead plaintiff in Friedrichs v CTA. Her U.S. Supreme Court case paved the way for a precedent-setting ruling which freed all public sector employees from forced unionism.
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