"How can you act like this?" thought the jury concerning a precious lady named Mary.
I met Mary while working at the Widows Ministry Center in Sevierville.
As she told me her story I knew her response to the jury could only be because the Lord was helping her!
Mary and her husband had owned a little grocery store outside of Nashville.
One day a young man in need of money robbed and killed her husband.
Mary chose to forgive this young man and began to pray for his salvation.
Mary had a heart for souls and many times I heard her invite others to know her precious Jesus!
She did the same with this young man too!
After he went to prison, Mary visited him.
She told him she had forgiven him, and Jesus would forgive him too.
In that cell, this young man who couldn't believe that the woman he made a widow would forgive and love him, accepted Christ's love! At her husband's memorial many came to know the Lord as well because of Mary's testimony!
Death did not have victory in this case and Jesus took the sting out by Mary sharing life with others!
("O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" 1 Cor 15:55)
Mary learned to praise God in all things. She did not praise God for the murder of her husband, for God was not the author of it. But Mary during the tragedy was able to praise God for being Greater and able to sustain her. She praised Him for being the author of life and asked for life to come into the heart of this young man! (Remember, 'Whatever you have victory over, you have authority over!') There were times I would drive Mary to the nursing home to play her tambourine and sing for the residents. They would be wheeled out from their rooms to hear this spunky lady share her songs and testimony. I watched different ones in their 90's on the brink of death give their hearts to the Lord! The statistics on those that are elderly coming to the Lord are very rare. But God could trust Mary with these hard cases!
The Hebrew translation of Ephesians 5:20, reads "giving thanks always concerning all things in the name of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, to God, even the Father."
At Anna's Gate we have taken the challenge to train our lips to praise. We are "fasting" negative words and all grumbling! Join us in this month of praise and watch God bring life into your situations!
"Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming; but instead voice your thankfulness [to God]". The word "thanks" or "thankfulness" used here is from the root word meaning "gratitude; actively, grateful". It is being actively grateful that defeats the robber! Jesus said regarding the Devil, " The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)."
Not only did the "Robber" come (through this young man) to steal from Mary what belonged to her including her husband but also her joy! She chose to forgive and to praise and that's how life can come in the midst of tragedy!