“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)
I recently joined a women’s bible study, gathering women from different churches and backgrounds in Houston. Initially when I joined I thought I was in some kind of geriatric ministry. Many of the women are empty nesters and older. Each week ladies faithfully hobble down the hallway yelling for someone to “h-o-o-o-l-d” the elevator so they can squeeze into an elevator jam-packed with women who cannot walk the stairs. They struggle with many ailments but one of them is surely not claustrophobia.
Since I am in another bible study with my church, I initially joined because I heard this bible study had a wonderful children’s ministry. I foolishly told myself I would drop the kids off and then use the time in bible study to fall asleep with my eyes open. It’s a good thing Asians have small eyes.
Then, the faith and stories of these ladies woke up my spirit. Marge is in her 80’s and recently lost her son to cancer. In the midst of her grief and loss she faithfully comes to bible study, serves in her church and touches many women. Though quiet, she is fierce and strong in her wisdom and faith. There is Patti who is nothing short of contagious joy. Though it is painful for her to get out of bed and walk some days, she comes with a smile on her face and participates with the wittiest answers that make us burst into laughter.
Then there is Jewel. She shared she developed a skin condition causing discoloration in her face. I cannot help but stare at her incredible beauty. Lastly there is our teacher, Diane. Every week she faithfully teaches a room full of women in the midst of getting treatment for cancer. These are just a few of the women I’ve met.
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. These words come to mind when I look at these ladies. I wish I could be half as beautiful. These ladies persevered through past and present trials and their faith has been proven genuine through the fire (I Pet. 1:7). God’s love pours into them through their perseverance (Rom. 5:3-5) and shines brightly through their broken bodies used as vessels for God (2 Cor. 4:7). Their crowns in heaven will be adorned with the richest jewels.
I am part of a group of younger women in the same bible study who are or will experience shattered dreams, losses and health issues. I pray we will become beautiful.