By Sara Sicks
When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, my husband was the director of mercy ministry at our church. Because of Chris’ position, one might think that his wife understood and practiced mercy ministry herself.
Looking back, I think I understood mercy mostly as an idea. Yes, I had provided meals to others in their tough times. I spoke with and prayed for people going through difficult circumstances. And it’s true, doing those things can communicate Christ’s love and compassion.
But I had a lot more to learn about the power and depth of mercy the Body of Christ is capable of. It was Stage III cancer (while raising three young children) that helped me learn about true mercy. To learn for myself how to love suffering people, I first had to receive deep and profound love in the midst of my own suffering. (See 2 Cor 1:3-7)
I have a friend who actively demonstrates such love to me. She has walked closely beside me through every step of my breast cancer battle for 5-½ years. I am choosing to focus on this friend and not individuals in my family (like my mother) because one would expect your family to go the extra mile for you. Praise God for his provision through such family members. Less common is a friend (I’ll call her Corinne) who moves deliberately and directly into painful and dark places with you.
Walking toward pain can be costly. It requires time and energy. You must be ready for the person in pain to flounder, be dramatic, and cry buckets of tears. When you serve hurting people well, you become deeply invested, often grieving and suffering yourself.
My friend Corinne has consistently listened to me talk about cancer, my fears, my faith, my emotions, my anger—ad nauseam. No matter how I feel, I know that I am loved and accepted for who I am at that moment. She doesn’t move the conversation back to herself or try to wrap things up when she is eager to change the subject. She is fully present. When I am with her, I feel like I am the most important person in the world. I do not feel like I am wasting her time.
Corinne has given me the great gift of her time. She has accompanied me to many a medical appointment—whether it be for chemo, a scary biopsy, or yet another scan. She has actually made many awful medical appointments FUN! Time goes quickly when I am with her, and we never seem able to fully finish a conversation!
Corinne is a faithful prayer warrior and lets me know how she is praying. She has prayed for me throughout daytime hours as well as through the night as the Lord leads her. This follower of Jesus has tangibly loved me, and her acts of love point me to our Savior.
Jesus gave me Corinne as an example of how to be more like Him. I now want to resemble Jesus, as Corinne does when she loves others. Of course, Corinne’s love for others is only the result of her own rescue and transformation by Jesus.
I praise the Lord that He left the most incredible palace ever to descend to Earth to rescue me. Because of Jesus, I am His and He is mine. And I also praise Him that He uses and equips Corrine to love me deeply. His love through Corinne has transformed me. I now want to be more like Jesus and love others the way that Corinne has loved me.
How about you? Leave a comment, and tell us who Jesus has used to love you in deep, tangible ways.