SAVING GRACE, SAVING WORDS:
By HELEN T. GRAY - The Kansas City Star
Holy books contain encouragement and inspiration for difficult times
Date: 04/14/00 22:15
JoAnna Carpenter's husband had undergone brain surgery that afternoon
and was having a bad night of seizures. She paced back and forth, the
dim lights in the hospital waiting room reflected her fading hope.
"I was thinking what a terrible night this had been," the Overland
Park woman said.
Then as she glanced out the window, she saw the first blush of
sunlight over a grove of trees. A verse from Psalm 30:5 came to mind --
... weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
"I thought: `The night is passed. This is a new day, and things will
be better.' "
For thousands of years, words, phrases, expressions and Scriptures
have sustained us.
When we face death.
When we are afflicted.
When life takes unexpected, ugly turns.
Through despair, shattered dreams, fear, anguish, doubt.
When we grasp for hope.
A word comes. An old saying is recalled. Our eyes fall upon a verse.
And somehow it is just what we need, for just that time.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own
understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy
paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
Diane Cheek's grandmother wrote this verse in the Bible she gave her
two years before her grandmother died. The Christmas present hadn't
meant a lot to the 26-year-old at the time. Five years later, lying in a
hospital bed critically ill, Cheek could sense her grandmother saying
"I had a peace, and I knew I would be all right," said Cheek, an
Overland Park speech therapist. "But not just in big things, (but) in
those everyday times we need to trust in God."
Since then she has given Bibles to her three sons, and she has
written the same Scripture passage in their Bibles.
The 23rd Psalm is the familiar passage that Joan McCleery of
Gardner in Johnson County associates with God's protection. In 1956 in
Blackwell, Okla., she, her pastor husband and their little boy were on
their way home in a brand-new Buick when a tornado lifted the car,
slammed it down and lifted it up again.
"My husband was saying he had no control over the car, and we thought
we were going to be killed," McCleery said. "That's when he started
quoting the 23rd Psalm, and when he got to verse four (Yea, though I
walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for
thou art with me ...), a tree fell on the car and held it."
The family lost everything. Their home also had been destroyed. "But
praise God; he protected us," McCleery said.
Words that bring understanding to perplexing situations
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,
saith the Lord. Isaiah 55:8
Widowed at the age of 27 and left to raise three small children,
Linda Adams of Lenexa asked God "Why?" Why, she wanted to know, had her
life turned this way.
The verse from Isaiah helped her to understand that God's plans for
her life may be different from hers and that she should trust God's
"I felt an immediate peace and assurance that my life is in God's
hands," said Adams, who eventually remarried and today is a grandmother.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that
love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
After having a miscarriage, Cindy Roth sunk into deep despair. She
couldn't understand why this had happened to her when a friend, with an
unwanted pregnancy, was doing fine.
"I read Romans 8:28 night after night in my room, and it helped me to
get through a time I didn't understand," said Roth, an Overland Park
homemaker. "It says that if you love God, everything that he wants to
happen to you will work out."
Words that bring comfort
By God! Should one who is in affliction or grief read this Tablet
with absolute sincerity, God will dispel his sadness, solve his
difficulties and remove his afflictions. Baha'i prayer, The Tablet
Stricken with a mysterious illness, Jai Kenyatta-Anderson of Kansas
City was in constant pain for months. No doctors, no medicine, no
treatment brought relief.
"After four days of not being able to sleep because of the pain,
being fed intravenously, having a temperature and a weight that matched
and being scheduled for exploratory surgery, I realized that there was a
real chance that I was going to die," she said.
Her mother brought her daughter's Baha'i Prayer Book, and she began
to read a prayer that Baha'is believe Baha'u'llah, their
prophet-founder, invested with special power. The next to the last
sentence, quoted above, became most meaningful to Kenyatta-Anderson.
"I read the entire prayer aloud over and over again until I finally
fell asleep for the first time in four days," she said. "When I awoke,
my fever had broken and I didn't hurt anymore."
Words that bring hope
Breath of heaven, hold me together. Be forever with me. From an
Amy Grant CD.
Before Christmas, a sonogram revealed that Rita Tyler's baby might
die. About that time, the Lee's Summit medical technologist heard an Amy
Grant song about Mary, Mother of Jesus, and what she went through during
"I listened to that song for the next month, and it helped me through
the end of my pregnancy," she said. "My son is 2 months old, a miracle,
and I continue to play that song as a thanksgiving for the gift of my
When God closes one door, he opens another.
At 61, Ernie Kartsonis, a retired Kansas City businessman, was
diagnosed with cancer. Doctors told him he had a year to 18 months to
live. Just hearing the word "cancer" frightened him. Sitting in church
one Sunday, he read the above words in his church bulletin.
"Those words helped me to know that surely something good is going to
That was nine years ago, and he's still alive, working with the
Cancer Hotline to bring hope to others.
O' Allah! I seek of you the means of (deserving) your mercy, the
means of (ascertaining) your forgiveness, the protection from all
mistakes, the benefit from all virtue and the freedom from all sins. O'
Allah! Leave no mistake of mine without your forgiveness, nor any stress
without your relief, nor any need of which you approve without being
fulfilled by you, O' Most Merciful of the Merciful. From an Islamic
A. Rauf Mir, a Leawood doctor, could hardly believe the situation in
which he found himself in the early 1980s. He had become victim of a
scam that could have resulted in complete financial and professional
ruin, he said.
To make matters worse, a niece from Kashmir, suffering with leukemia,
came to stay with his family while she sought medical help, to no avail.
She finally returned home, where she died.
"This was a terrible time," Mir said, adding that his faith and
prayers got him through.
"The Holy Qur'an repeatedly advises people to obtain help and
strength from prayers in all their troubles," he said.
The prayer quoted above helped to give him the hope and strength he
Words that bring happiness
If you wish to free yourself from the sufferings of birth and death
you have endured since time without beginning and attain supreme
enlightenment in this lifetime, you must awaken to the mystic truth
which has always been within your life. This truth is
Myoho-renge-kyo. Chanting Myoho-renge-kyo will therefore
enable you to grasp the mystic truth within you. From a letter of
Nichiren, a 13th-century Buddhist monk considered a Buddha by his
Royceann Mather, an Overland Park homemaker, sometimes gets
depressed, and the words from Nichiren get her back on the track to
"When I get in a slump and I'm feeling down, I just remember that I
have everything within me to be happy," she said. "This passage brings
me back to understanding that everything I need for my own happiness
already resides within me and to search outside myself is futile."
To reach Helen T. Gray, religion editor at The Star, call (816)
234-4446 or send e-mail to email@example.com
©Copyright 2000, Kansas City Star