Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Encouragement (among believers) (11/08/07)
TITLE: A Bouquet of Solace
By Seema Bagai
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Time had become a haze while I existed in this trench. Everything became jumbled together in the enveloping fog. Terrified, I imagined being trapped in this gloom forever.
In the silence, I tried to pray. A solitary word slipped from my lips.
I hugged my knees, too numb to cry.
“Leah, it’s Azalea.”
Her whisper startled me. Azalea climbed down into the trench and sat beside me. Her presence eased the isolation that threatened to engulf me. While words remained muffled within my misery, Azalea held my hands and prayed for peace to permeate the darkness.
Prior to leaving, she retrieved my cell phone, turned it on, and handed it to me. The screen’s soft glow provided a faint light. I scrolled through the names, and decided talking required too much effort.
“Ting. Ting.” The phone chimed the arrival of a text message from Violet.
“Praying for you.”
Exhausted, I leaned back against the wall. My eyes, heavy with the sleep that seemed elusive, stared blankly into the gloom.
“Leah, have you eaten anything?” Daisy’s cheerful voice permeated the silence.
“No. Everything tastes like cardboard,” I mumbled.
“Here, I brought you a chocolate shake. Your favorite.”
I reached up and accepted the cup. The first sweet sip slid down my parched throat. I tried a few more sips and felt the icy liquid settle in my knotted stomach.
“I’d forgotten how good these taste. Thanks, Daisy.”
“I’m praying for you,” she called out as she left.
Before I could finish the shake, I spotted a light overhead. I craned my neck to see Iris smiling down at me. In her musical voice, she read from the Psalms. At first, the words reverberated around me. Slowly, phrases of comfort seeped into my mind. She prayed and handed me the flashlight and Bible.
“I’ll visit again later. Read the passage I marked. Remember, God’s word never fails.”
I picked up the phone and hit seven on speed dial. Lily listened while I attempted to articulate my distress. Somehow, through my senseless rambling, she understood my anguish over being smothered by darkness. Her rational words shredded the muddled lies inside my mind.
Soon after our conversation ended, Jasmine stopped by with her MP3 player.
“I downloaded some of your favorite songs. Just listen to the lyrics and stop listening to the words in your head. God is closer than you realize.”
Sighing, I slipped on the headphone. Music saturated my mind and soothed my aching heart. I switched on the flashlight and opened the Bible to the place Iris had marked.
“The LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.” (Isaiah 60:20, NIV).
Aiming the flashlight toward the wall, I spotted a ladder. Gazing upward, I glimpsed sheer streams of light shimmering in the receding fog. Strengthened by prayers and encouragement, I pulled myself up off the dirt, grasped the sides of the ladder, and climbed out of the trench.
On legs stiffened from being compressed, I took a few tentative steps forward. Sunlight embraced me and dried the dampness clinging to my clothes. The fresh fragrance of flowers and the melody of chirping birds filled the air. Squinting in the light, I stumbled over to the fountain and rested on the edge. I reached out, filled my hands with the cold, flowing water, and drank.
“Leah, how are you doing?”
I looked up. Rose strode toward me. “I’ve been worried about you and I’ve been praying for you every day.” She sat down and wrapped her arms around me. The despair I felt while in the trench began to wash away in a cascade of tears. As I sobbed, Rose prayed.
“Holy Spirit, Leah is hurting. Have mercy on her. Fill her with your presence and comfort. Protect her from falling back into the pit she was in. Father, show her that You are always beside her. Carry her through this difficult time. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Wiping my eyes, I took a deep breath and relaxed. Bowing my head, I prayed.
Lord, thank you for sending me this bouquet of solace to brighten the darkness.
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