Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
I struggled with every fiber of my being to hold back the tears that wanted to be released. This was not the time or the place to lose it like that, with my students and coworkers surrounding me. We were having chapel time in the small Christian school at which I worked, and the poignant worship threatened to undo the control that I had been able to maintain for several weeks. But the physical pain that the chemotherapy was inflicting in my body, and the emotional pain that the fear of dying was inflicting in my mind were too much to hold back anymore.
The bell rang, indicating that I had 30 minutes until my next class, so I fled to the relative safety of the women’s bathroom. A few minutes of deep breathing and a lot of praying, and I felt strong enough to return to the public without making a complete fool of myself....but as I turned the corner, Mary, the mother of one my students was there - looking at me with the knowing eyes of a nurse and the sympathetic eyes of a friend. I crumbled. And she held me.
Then she began to tell me an Uncle Remus’ folktale about Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox, and how Brer Fox had managed to trap Brer Rabbit with a baby made out of tar. When Brer Rabbit came across the Tar Baby and got tangled up in the mess of sticky tar, the sneaky Brer Fox came in and snatched the unsuspecting rabbit.
As the fox pondered how he should best prepare the rabbit for dinner, Brer Rabbit began to plead, “Drown me! Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please, only, please, Mr. Fox, please do not throw me into that briar patch!”
Well, the fox determined to do just that, and flung the rabbit as far as he could into the briar patch. As he waited for cries of anguish, instead he heard a voice behind him. He looked up to see Brer Rabbit skipping away, having been freed of the tar by the thorns of the briar patch, and he heard, “I was born and bred in the briar patch, Brer Fox, born and bred in the briar patch.”
As Mary hugged me she told me that my enemy, the devil, thought he could throw me into the briar patch and destroy me. “But he doesn’t know that you were born in the briar patch, Amy!” she said.
Mary explained that God had equipped and prepared me with everything that I needed to survive - even to thrive - in the briar patch. It was true, she assured me, that the devil had thrown me to the thorns and briars, but the Lord truly worked all things for my good. What my enemy intended to use to trap and destroy me, God would use to deliver me!
Life in the briar patch might be difficult, but that might be just what we need.
“Brer Rabbit.” American Folklore. S.E. Shlosser, December 13, 2014. Web. July, 2016.