I don’t know what prompted me to do it, but last night I clicked on my email file titled “Nate.”
The day after we received Nate’s fatal cancer diagnosis, I started saving messages in this folder. One of the first entries is the long letter I sent my closest friends letting them know our dreadful news.
Following that are hundreds of emails containing endless offers to help, promises of prayer, expressions of love, encouraging hymn lyrics, and powerful Scriptures.
Last night I read one after the other for several hours until I was weak with gratitude.
I’m not sure what prompted me to delve into those emails. Maybe it’s that I was missing Nate a great deal yesterday, and possibly it’s because the non-stop activity of the last several weeks finally quieted. As I plunked down in my La-Z-Boy after a tiring day, I was preparing for a prayer time when my thoughts turned to Nate.
Back then, as we took our first steps into the world of pancreatic cancer, we were uninformed and unproven. As the pain escalated—both emotionally and physically—the emails described countless offers of charity. Charity is often difficult to accept, but gradually we understood that charity is simply another word for love.
Even as I read the emails last night, love radiated from the screen. I was overcome with the thoughtfulness of others.
Reading was difficult, but I couldn’t stop, despite the tears. Overwhelmingly, the singular message to our family so many months ago—and to me last night—was of unfailing love. Love from friends and relatives, and love from God.
When a friend would write, “I have no words,” or “Words are inadequate,” they would often follow that with God’s words instead, a supremely comforting alternative. Isaiah 41:10 was repeatedly mentioned:
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Many friends reminded us we were all part of the same family, the family of God. How good it was to be steadily and repeatedly told of the bond we shared in Christ, because that assured us our friends were willing to share in carrying our burdens.
When I finally stopped reading, I felt like I’d been given a short course in “What To Do In a Crisis.” Along with lots of love, friends dispensed wisdom, encouragement, strength, and hope in a hopeless set of circumstances.
None of us knows exactly what to do when tragedy strikes, but these people all did something, and I am so grateful.
Who can you encourage today?