Lucille is one of those folks people like to know because she is friendly and possesses a tender heart. She smiles instantly, and although she is a beautiful woman on the outside, what makes her such a treasure is she is especially beautiful on the inside! People experience the sweet fragrance of Christ when they meet her.
This classy lady was a fourth grade teacher in the small town where I moved between my junior and senior years of high school. I remembered her many kindnesses then, but 30-years passed before we became dear friends. Today she often asks why I want to be friends with her, ‘After all,’ she remarks, ‘I’m 26-years older than you!’ If only she could see what I see in her.
As a teacher, she had a stabilizing effect on many of the children and faculty in the K-12 school where she taught her entire career; not to mention the fourth graders reveled in the fact she was not much taller than they were at the age of ten!
On the outside, Lucille’s beautiful blue-green eyes and gorgeous hair compliment her ready smile. She is calm and collected, but that doesn’t mean her life was always peaceful. She and her first husband divorced after many years of marriage and it took quite some time to get over. As she struggled through the process, a friend offered some helpful advice. She suggested giving thanks for her circumstances and pointed to the Bible verses referencing it.
Lucille thought that was the oddest thing she had ever heard until her friend explained in doing so, we take our mind off the troublesome situation and place it back on God. When our mind is on Him we remember how big and powerful He is, that He is Creator and Lord and therefore He has solutions and answers. He is our Majestic King and worthy of all praise, and we remember this world is not all there is to life.
After some consideration, Lucille conceded. If our lives would ultimately glorify God despite our difficulty and lack of comprehension, then why not thank Him before we knew the immediate outcome?
Even though she found it hard to do in the beginning, as the days passed she realized the burden of her divorce was lifting. Noticing the change, she dedicated more time to giving thanks and soon realized it worked in every situation. Little did she know this good habit would later be a type of salvation. Upcoming events would make the divorce seem small.
Several years after the divorce Lucille remarried. While on a short vacation, she and her new husband had driven several hours from home, settled into their hotel, and then gone out for the day to dine and shop. Upon returning to the hotel, her husband took an urgent phone call. Lucille’s 19-year old son, Michael, had been brutally murdered.
Life is not always understandable and there are times when there are no good explanations for its misery, except that God gave humans a will to choose, and in that free will, some humans make wrong and bad choices and harm others as a result.
The tragic news devastated Lucille. She denied the possibility it could be true. She raged at her husband who delivered the news. She buried her head in grief. She screamed in pain. But in that horrible place of overwhelming grief, the Lord whispered deeply into Lucille’s heart to give thanks. It seemed He was saying, ‘Remember Who I Am. Mike is with Me. He is okay. You’ll see him again. He is not hurting. Place your eyes on Me. Look at Me, child. Lock your eyes onto Mine. I’m here with you.’
Had she not previously experienced the tremendous power in this spiritual principle, she might have thought a demon from hell was offering advice, but she knew the voice of her God. So after a few moments she eked out the first weak ‘thank You.’ Thank You that he is safe with You. Thank You that this life is not all there is. Thank You that after Jesus resurrected, He went to prepare a place for us, for my son, who is now there with You.
Lucille told me that after several minutes of simply obeying, the enormous pain of her loss began to lift. It didn’t change the tragedy and the horrendous details surrounding it, but she felt a modicum of peace, a peace that passed her understanding; a peace that didn’t make sense under the circumstances, but one that was tangible.
On the long ride home, Lucille said there were moments of calm and then moments of uncontrollable emotion as she wondered what happened and why. And when again she grieved immeasurably, she could hear God’s Still Small Voice whisper once more, ‘I’m right here with you. Give thanks, and put your eyes back on Me. Remember Who I Am, daughter. I Am with you and I will never leave you. I have not forsaken you. Look at Me, child. Let me hold you; let me carry you.’
Over the coming year as Lucille learned the gruesome details of her son’s murder, and sat through the trial and sentencing of those who killed him, she repeatedly found the only relief she could muster came when she put her eyes back on God and gave Him thanks for what was, and is true, about both Him and her son. Michael was not hurting. She had had the privilege of being his mother. He had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and therefore she was confident he was in heaven. For these things she could give thanks.
Remarkably, Lucille said she never became angry with God. She knew Michael’s death was the result of wicked men’s choices. She also found a great fellowship with God, because His Son had also died a horrible death. Undeserved. Blamed for things He did not do. A good Man. A gentle Man, like Michael. A loving Man, like her son. God understood her pain.
Today when someone meets Lucille they see that same sweet woman I knew before Michael’s death, but now the fragrance of Christ is even stronger. In her eyes and heart reside a deep peace and understanding; on her face an evident love for an old friend or complete stranger. Jesus Christ shines more brightly through her than ever before. You see, the fiery darts of the wicked one could not put out the flame that burns within her. For it is an eternal flame … put there by an eternal God.
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And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 NLT
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me–everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 NLT
Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this (giving thanks) is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:17-18 NIV
“Lori was careful in writing my story to say what I felt but sometimes couldn’t find the words to describe. I carry a copy of it in my Bible.” — Lucille