Many people don’t know, but one of my closest friends went into the hospital within 24 hours of my brother being admitted.
We have been friends since I was in the 1st grade; she was a year older. As a child, I always looked up to her as my older, smarter, and more sophisticated friend. We had numerous sleepovers, shared countless secrets, and giggled about our childhood crushes.
Journeying into adulthood, we shared milestones, celebrated victories, and supported each other through struggles. When life seemed overwhelming – and we broke down in tears on the phone – the other was quick to jump in, intercede in prayer, and provide words and scriptures of encouragement.
I remember she first attempted to contact me in late March – I had missed the call because of a meeting at work, but I texted her and told her I’d call her back later. Her response indicated that she had been really sick and asked me to keep her in my prayers.
I responded via text with a prayer and declaration of healing and went back to work. When we finally connected later that evening, I suggested our traditional family remedy of using onions on her feet to fight off fever and assured her that she was going to be ok.
I don’t think I grasped the seriousness of her illness then, until she later tested positive for COVID-19. She was still experiencing pain, having difficulty breathing, and admitted that she was scared.
My fearless friend – scared? I was caught off guard by her comment, but encouraged her that she was going to be just fine. I remained confident that in a day or two she’d be feeling better.
A few days later I received word that my brother was rushed to the hospital and had been experiencing the same symptoms as my friend. Then the very next day her husband told me that she also was also in the hospital and struggling to breathe.
Throughout her sedation as she fought the virus, I struggled with not being able to share everything I was going through during my brother’s illness. We had always supported each other through tough times like this. And this had probably been one of the toughest things I’d ever dealt with.
She and my brother were in different hospitals but were having similar experiences. I expected them both to be on their ventilators for about 5 or so days, as that seemed to be the normal trend, and the expectation set by the medical personnel treating them.
Her husband shared updates with me, and I kept him updated on my brother. We praised God for positive reports and prayed harder over the negative ones.
Five days turned into a week, and with each passing day I expected one of them to wake up, followed by the other. I waited for them to be removed from their ventilators, and then share smiling pictures showing their recovery like I had seen in a number of social media posts from other recoveries.
But with each day came reports of different challenges. It was truly a roller coaster alternating between positive and concerning updates.
I’m sharing this week’s scripture as a 2-part strategy: I had no choice but to wait on the Lord’s plan and courageously trust in His timing. Psalms 27 is full of faith-filled words for difficult times, ending with the promise in verse 14 promised that as I waited on God, He would strengthen my heart.
I had memorized the entire chapter of Psalms 27 as a child, and always interpreted that closing verse to mean that I would have the outcome I desired when I trusted and waited on the Lord. However, I’d soon come to realize that even though one of my prayers was not answered in the way I expected, God had indeed strengthened my heart to handle the days and weeks ahead.
I had a lot of time to reflect on my friendship while I waited for her to wake up. She is one of my biggest supporters, always encouraging me. She is also one of the most giving and generous people I know. She is not one to just say what I want to hear, but gives me the truth, whether I like it or not.
There were so many great things about her and our friendship, and I just wanted her to get better so we could resume with our lives.
So, I waited on God and trusted Him with my friend and my brother. During that time, He responded by strengthening my faith in Him, and His Word. When my brother passed away (it is still unbelievable for me to write that), I went through a myriad of emotions, but God’s strength never left me. I shared that story here if you missed it.
I struggled with telling her husband about my brother. We had been walking this journey of faith together, and mine ended with my brother’s complete healing in heaven. I didn’t want that to cause our faith to waiver concerning her outcome. She was still here, and I didn’t want to lose her too.
I thought, “God, you wouldn’t do that to me, would you? You wouldn’t take my brother AND my friend?” I considered an outcome that I never thought possible only a week earlier.
I walked through processing and grieving the physical loss of my brother while rejoicing in his heavenly gain. After a few days, I received a call from her husband. I hadn’t been up to taking phone calls, but quickly answered, hoping it was not bad news.
“Tonya?” She spoke in a slow, labored, and raspy voice that I could hardly recognize. “I’m so sorry to hear about Tyrone”.
I caught my breath. There is no way to describe what I felt. It was such a bittersweet moment, finally hearing her voice after over 2 weeks of uncertainty, while having our first conversation about a painful subject.
I could tell by the unfamiliar cadence of her words, that our short conversation required great exertion on her behalf. I thanked her for calling and offering her condolences, and expressed my extreme joy in hearing her voice, and let her know I was looking forward to talking to her again soon.
My friend is now home, and on her journey to recovery. I’m ssoo thankful to God for sparing her life, and I continue to pray for her complete healing.
I am forever changed. I had always expected to have my brother and friend around for a very long time. I never considered life without them.
Many times, we fail to appreciate those closest to us. We put off calling them back or send their call to voicemail due to our preoccupation, assuming we can talk at a later, more convenient time. We end conversations with “we have to get together,” or “we need to schedule a dinner date” but never follow through on those empty words.
As we continue through this epidemic, I wish for the opportunity to do those things that I had so easily taken for granted all these years. I will celebrate birthdays, milestones, and the simple joys in life.
I will do a better job of staying in touch and valuing my relationships while I have them. I have no idea what lies ahead, but my heart remains strengthened as I courageously wait on the Lord to heal her completely and bring us through this season of life.
In light of the coronavirus epidemic we are all facing, life has slowed down and changed dramatically for many of us. Today’s scripture is a great reminder to not unnecessarily rush, but to courageously wait on God’s timing, so that He can strengthen us.
Are there specific situations you are experiencing that require a conscious effort for you to demonstrate courage while waiting on God? What are some ways you can do that? How do you need Him to strengthen your heart while you wait on Him?
Feel free to respond in the comments section… and share this story with someone in your life that could use the encouragement.
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