There was no indication her daughter had any inclination or desire to change.
For months, her daughter’s disrespectful, condescending spirit of entitlement had worn her mother, my friend, down. In Southern African culture, elders are honored and revered. Children are expected to pay attention to their parents’ growing needs and care for them as they age. This was not happening. My friend’s concern over the expanding relational divide with her daughter caused her to reach out to me. She needed me to pray for her daughter and their relationship.
Many years ago, my friend contracted HIV from her husband. Although she is consistent about taking her anti-retroviral medication (ARV) today, she is aware that the disease ravaged her immune system before these drugs were made available to her. She has good days and tough days. She confesses that there are times when she needs the support and care of her adult daughter.
To provide a bit of history, South Africa’s HIV/AIDS treatment was not comprehensively introduced until 2004. However, due to government policy, HIV/AIDS stigma, and lack of treatment options, only 23 % of those with HIV who needed ARV treatment received them. It is estimated that 330,000 people died premature deaths due to HIV/AIDS in South Africa in 2005 alone. In addition, nearly 35,000 HIV-infected babies were born who could have been protected from the HIV virus and sadly had limited life span. South Africa became the nation known for the highest HIV/AIDs rates in the world.
Fast forward to today and I am gratified to say that South Africa’s re-prioritized HIV/AIDS policies have assisted in improving people’s access to ARV drugs and HIV/AIDs treatment. My friend is one of these beneficiaries – even though she had to wait to receive them. Her life has improved and been lengthened because of her health, diet, education, and medication supports.
However, health, diet, education, and medication fail to address the sorrow and pain of a broken heart. My friend acknowledged that she needed a relational breakthrough with help from her Savior to address such soul concerns. She missed her daughter.
In February, she approached me after one of my Early Childhood Development (ECD) workshops and asked for prayer. My friend desired reconciliation with her daughter. However, she confessed little hope that a restored relationship was possible. She believed that Jesus Christ could help her, but her confidence waned due to her daughter’s hurtful words and disrespectful behavior. Nonetheless, she humbly asked me to pray into her family situation.
Friends, this is the secret of hope-filled faith in Christ. My friend’s courageous hope in Christ served as a measure of her resilient faith. Even in the far reaches of her heart where it ached with betrayal and loss, my friend’s heart continued to beat with hope. For in her despair, she refused to let go of her confidence in Christ. She believed that Jesus Christ could come to her aid and He would.
It says in Scripture:
But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are in God’s house, if we hold onto the courage and the hope of which we boast.
New International Version, Hebrews 3: 6
My friend’s bold, constant, and optimistic faith was under-girded by the belief that she was a member of God’s house. She is a living stone and a spiritual testimony to what a living faith looks like on earth – even when discouraged. As a member of God’s house, she understood the importance of reaching out to the body of Christ for help and support. United together by the bond of grace, the cord of hope, the power of an abiding love, and the truth of the Gospel message, she could persevere. Yet, in order to keep moving forward despite her illness, despite her problems, and despite her discouragement, she needed to experience the care of Christ and His people.
That’s true of all of us, isn’t it?
In times of discouragement and despair, we need to know that we are not alone. Like my friend, we need to remember that as Believers, we are living stones in the house of God. We are interconnected by His love, His grace, His hope and His life!
Therefore, back in February, I committed to pray for my friend and her daughter. I wrote their names in my prayer journal. I prayed consistently into this matter for the past seven months. There are times when we must devote ourselves to praying for a situation for months on end, if not years. I promised my friend I would pray faithfully until a change of heart occurred in her daughter.
My friend asked to speak with me before my ECD training was to begin yesterday. As we walked outside, she shared that her daughter’s attitude and behavior had markedly improved. She relayed that one day her daughter came to her home and asked for forgiveness for the way she had behaved these many months. Since that day, her daughter made conscious effort to demonstrate her love and care towards her mother – without demands, without disrespect, and without a divisive spirit. Her spirit is one of generosity and affection now.
My friend hugged me and thanked me.
She said, “I know Jesus helped me. I know you were praying. I know that this change in my daughter came through prayer and His help.”
Friends, every house has a builder. Yet, the builder of all things is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My friend called upon the Master builder to speak into her relationship with her daughter and see them through this difficult season in their relationship.
And He did!
He alone transformed her daughter’s heart, attitude and behavior.
As I shared, my friend knows the secret of a faith-filled life in Jesus Christ.
The secret to the hope-filled life in Christ is to walk closely, courageously, and consistently in faith every single day.
I see this in my friend as she proclaims Christ’s goodness and care. My friend does this – day in and day out – even as she contends with the effects of HIV and other life challenges. She lives a dignified, triumphant life of hope and faith because she depends upon and trusts in her Lord and Savior for every life circumstance.
This is the testimony of a persevering faith!
What a privilege it is for me to serve in southern Africa and experience this transforming, grace-giving, courageous faith!
I wouldn’t miss it!
Friends, perhaps you, too, are experiencing the challenge of a divisive relationship, a significant illness, or other matter of discouragement. It is my prayer that the story of my friend brings you hope. I pray that you will trust that Jesus Christ can see you through this matter as well – providing the courage, the hope, and the care you need to persevere and overcome in time – no matter your situation.
May you hold fast to the free and fearless confidence you have in Christ today and every day!
And Friends, if you need someone to pray with you and for you, just ask! Ask me, ask a friend – just ask someone! You are not alone in your need – we are here for you!
How do I know that?
Because I have a joyous, confident hope in Jesus Christ. If He came to the aid of my friend, He can do the same for you!!!
Hope Heart image retrieved from Living Well with Epilepsy
“Mbeki AIDS policies lead to 330,000 deaths.” The Guardian. www.guardian.com. 27 Nov 2008. retrieved 1 Oct 2017.