I saw my friend Jay across the courtyard at church one Sunday morning a few months ago. As I walked over to chat with him, I realized his usually friendly face was crunched up in pain.
“Jay, is something wrong?”
“Root canal gone bad,” he grimaced.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” I didn’t know what else to say, but I thought of the words of James 5: Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make them well.
“Jay, would you mind if we grab a couple of these guys and pray for you.” Jay was hurting too much to care one way or the other; so I walked over to where Randy and Pepe were standing at the door of the auditorium waiting to greet people.
“Would you guys be willing to come over and pray for Jay? He’s got a really bad toothache.”
They were there with alacrity! We made a small knot around Jay, and Pepe began to pray out loud. He prayed boldly, thoroughly and simply. The rest of us “agreed” in silent prayer. Amen!
It felt good to know we could bring anything to the Lord anytime.
We promised Jay that we’d continue to keep him in prayer for the next few days. Nothing hurts like a toothache!
I wandered around the courtyard, visiting with friends and chatting with people until it was almost time for church to start. Then as I was walking up to the door Pepe said he’d like to speak with me privately for a moment.
The previous Wednesday he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
I was dumfounded. “You jumped in and prayed so fervently for Jay, and you have cancer?!” It made my head spin. “I will pray for you, for sure.”
I hardly knew what to say.
We talked for a few minutes about how we know it’s no harder for God to heal cancer than it is for him to heal a toothache. He’s GOD.
I know that’s true, but still, it amazed me that Pepe was able to set aside his own newly-discovered, and potentially devastating situation, to pray for our brother.
The summer passed, and after a very complicated visit to an oral surgeon Jay’s root canal problem is getting better.
And we have watched Pepe “walk in victory” through his cancer surgery and follow-up treatments. It hasn’t been easy for him, but he has a good prognosis. Every week he laughs and jokes about some of the setbacks he experiences.
He always has a smile on his face, and words of encouragement for everyone. Standing at the door of the auditorium, he greets people with a warm handshake or a backslap or hug. He seems to know everyone, and to be genuinely interested in their lives. And recently he has become involved with a program to help and support Palestinian Christians. He’ll talk your ear off about that!
A few days ago John told me about a conversation they had. Pepe told John, “The cool thing about serving others is that you get your eyes off yourself!”
Well said, Pepe. It’s also a “cool way” to let the reality of God be seen in your life!