In the 17 years that this column has existed, I have never written a special one to address a current situation that was either tumultuous or triumphant.
Today is the exception.
The world as we have known it has been rocked, and fear creeps like kudzu and threatens to overtake. For that reason, I want to share a story that has undergirded and carried our family for many years.
Mama and Daddy listened solemnly to what the doctor was saying. Tears ran down my Mama’s cheeks as Daddy’s eyes watered and he dropped his head.
“I’ll be back after lunch to check on her,” he was saying, “but I doubt she will live until then. Death is close. Maybe three hours.”
The two-year-old girl was blistering red from the fever that had raged dangerously for two days. Now, her breath was shallow while her heartbeat and pulse were faint. In those days, doctors still made house calls so he had been there twice a day for the past few days. Finally, he had to admit that all hope had disappeared.
He picked up his medical bag, shook hands with Daddy, and left. Then Mama and Daddy did what they always did when fear threatened to overwhelm and overcome them. They dropped to their knees and fervently prayed.
Mama would tell the story for the rest of her days, of how she heard the Lord speak to her while she knelt.
“He told me to pick up the baby, wrap her in a blanket, and take her out to the porch.” She stood and said to Daddy, “Keep prayin’. The Lord told me to take her outside.”
As Mama passed through the living room of their little apartment in the big colonial house, family and neighbors sat quietly, waiting for the pronouncement of death. Mama’s sister, Ozelle, stood and asked, “Where are you goin’?”
“I’m takin’ her to the porch.”
Aunt Ozelle had lost a baby to a terrible fever, a loss that she never forgot. “You can’t do that. It’s cold outside and it’ll kill her.”
Mama didn’t waiver — she never did when it came to her faith and the many Biblical scriptures that had been ingrained in her. To this day, I am often comforted by remembering trying times when I was fretting. Mama would smile with confidence, hold her forefinger up and say, “Fear not. God has it all right in the palm of His hand. It will be all right.”
She was never wrong when she said that.
That day, she kept walking to the door as she said, “I’m doin’ as the Lord told me.”
In a rocking chair on the big porch, she sat down in the chilly morning air. Tightly, she held the baby, praying as she rocked.
“It wasn’t long,” she’d recall, “until I noticed the blanket was damp. Then I realized it was completely wet.”
She pulled the blanket back from the baby’s face. My sister, Louise, looked up with a smile, then laughed and snuggled her face toward Mama.
The fever had broken. Faith and prayer had stared down fear and won out over predicted death.
Aunt Ozelle later told me, “We had seen with our own eyes the hand of God Almighty move and do what the doctor said could not be done. It was a morning that none of us would ever forget. We would carry it with us down through the journey of life and remember always what faith and prayer can do.”
When the doctor returned, he found the child in her high chair, laughing and eating enthusiastically.
Stunned, he watched for a moment then asked, “What happened?”
“The good Lord heard and answered our prayers,” Mama replied.
Our faith and strength are tested by tribulation. But let me quote from an expert I knew and loved: Fear not. God has it all right in the palm of His hand.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of several books, including “Mark My Words: A Memoir of Mama.” Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com. Her column publishes weekly.