Liza first came into our circle several years ago. We met her through our friend Catherine who had an amazingly fruitful ministry among the women on the streets of Saint John. Liza was homeless and Catherine literally took her in. They became more than room mates. They became good friends. Liza went on first to employment with the Y and later as sexton at Stone Church. She would come to our Bible Study on her breaks and she was an energetic volunteer in the days when we put on community meals. She used to bring a box of doughnuts to our Sunday evening services. She would make sure no one took the apple fritter which was designated for me nor the Boston Cream which was for her. She could be gruff but despite herself she revealed a heart of gold. We shared innumerable meals together. She loved to share her cheesecakes with us.
About two years ago she was given a diagnosis that shook us all! She had only a year to live! Through these last two years she suffered much pain all the while continuing her two physically taxing jobs. She became so thin that you could probably circle he calf between thumb and forefinger.
During this time, I often thought about the passage from Romans “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, he has given us.” Liza suffered and she persevered valiantly and by doing so evidenced Christ-like character. She knew a hope that sustained her, because she experienced the love of God. This is a hope that does not disappoint!
I imagine her now swapping cheesecake recipes with our Street Hope friend Larry, who went before her. They both loved cooking and sharing their efforts. Liza has realized her hope! To be absent from the body is to be with the Lord!
We already miss her terribly, but we are rejoicing that the suffering is over and that she no longer has to persevere. God’s final refining of her character is complete, and she is at rest.
We laughed and cried together, and we shared a hope that never disappoints!
Last night we celebrated another example of hope at a friend’s 14th anniversary of sobriety. While we congratulate our friend, it is the hope that this same ‘miracle’ is available to any who turn in submission to God and walk in obedience to his way. It is, again, a hope that does not disappoint!