Receiving peace

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Just before my visit to Jerusalem I had a client make an appointment to change her will. Helen had been a long-term client and was quiet, cool and austere. Life had not been kind. An abusive father, a broken marriage and then a reconciliation with her father. Her father promised in return for her care to leave her a substantial legacy.

The promise soured and her father turned on her at the end of his life, severing their relationships and halving what he had promised to give her. Claims on the estate from her siblings added to the hurt and anguish.

The legal issues had been resolved and I optimistically thought our Monday conference was so I could help her finally plan a happy ever after. Those thoughts were crushed when she shared her diagnosis.

I took instructions and we planned to meet the next week. On Friday I received a message. Helen had been hospitalised and was not expected to survive the weekend. Could I attend to have her sign her will?

No, I was jammed. I had to send a staff member, who returned telling what a sad experience it had been. 

It weighed heavily on me and, as I was getting dressed for church the next day, I suddenly thought, why not go and see her? Helen beamed when I walked up to her bed and sat down. It was obvious she was in deep distress but she reached out and took my hand and didn’t let it go. Extraordinary behaviour from such a reserved woman. Looking death in the face makes us focus on what is really important. We talked about her family and her life. 

Helen had not even met some of her grandchildren but had arranged to fly them in so she could say hello and farewell. 

She was frightened that she would neither have the courage nor the strength to get through. 

I felt impressed to pray with her.

“Helen I don’t know what you believe but would you like me to pray with you?” I asked. 

There was some hesitation before she gripped my hand even tighter and replied,

“My belief is small but I would like you to pray with me.”

I felt a surge of panic, do I pray for healing or . . . ?

I began to pray. I asked that Helen be given the strength and courage to see her grandchildren and I was suddenly  impressed to ask that Helen be given peace. 

Helen survived the next week and so I was able to see her again exactly one week later.

She was very frail. As I sat down next to her bed she reached out and took my hand. I asked her if she had seen her grandchildren and she nodded and smiled. I sensed she was struggling to tell me something. I stood up and as I bent down I heard her say, ”I received the peace.”

Helen died soon after I left. 

When I entered Jerusalem on a Friday night a short time later, I was reading John 14.

I had always concentrated on the opening verses, “Let not you hearts be troubled . . .”, but that night verse 27 radiated: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

We are not guaranteed of receiving the gift of healing but we can always claim the promise of the peace of Jesus. 

Stuart Tipple is a lawyer who attends Forresters Beach Church, NSW. He was inspired to write these reflections after reading
The church is not a building” (April 15).

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