Five years ago, my wife, Margaret, was diagnosed with lung cancer. Like everyone who hears this news, we were traumatized, but we trusted God for a miracle. After the doctor operated, he said they were able to get all the cancer and there was no need for follow-up treatment. We thanked God, rejoiced in her healing and got back to our "normal" life.
That life would be short-lived, however. A year-and-a-half later, the doctors told us that the cancer had spread to her bones. This time they were not going to be able to operate. Her treatment of chemotherapy and radiation was going to be intensive.
Up to this point in our lives, we had not been a part of a small group. But not too long after the second diagnosis, our friends invited us to be a part of their group. What we didn't know was that we were about to embark on an incredible journey that was to be filled with encouragement, patience, support and love.
Through the course of Margaret's treatment, not only did our group pray diligently for us, but their actions exemplified their faith. They went beyond the superficial and well into the sacrificial. Their acts of extreme love were nothing short of awesome. They helped in so many ways:
• On occasions when money was tight, they would bless us with money.
• When rides were required for Margaret's appointments or for our kids, they drove.
• They cooked us meals.
• In the middle of a hot summer, when we only had fans, someone gave us an air-conditioner.
• When they noticed I was overwhelmed, they would relieve me of my duties in shifts.
• In the later stage of Margaret's illness, when she was too weak to travel, they would hold group in our bedroom just so she could be a part of it.
And all these deeds were done on their own accord. Neither Margaret nor I had to ask for anything. They anticipated what our needs were going to be. Through all this, their prayers stayed constant.
I cannot imagine how we would've gone through this time without God and our small group on our side. I now know full well what the Bible means by having "friends closer than brothers." I am eternally grateful for them.
As I write this, I'm reminded of the great reunion we're going to have in heaven. I can only imagine how Margaret will be able to thank each one in our group for their unselfish acts … What a glorious day that will be!