But Jesus is the hope of all the world

Jeremiah 10:6-7, 10 Lord, there is no one like you! For you are great, and your name is full of power. Who would not fear you O King of nations? That title belongs to you alone! Among all the wise people of the earth and in all the kingdoms of the world, there is no one like you. . . But the Lord is the only true God. He is the living God and the everlasting King!

Matthew 12:18-21 (See Isaiah 12:18-21; 42:1-4) Look at my servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally he will cause justice to be victorious. And his name will be the hope of all the world.

Revelation 15:3-4; 22:2 They were singing the song of the Lamb: . . . Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations. . . All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed. . . On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.

O Rex Gentium, O King of the Nations, we long for your coming. We desperately need your justice and healing. The whole world groans. “O come, Desire of nations, bind in one the hearts of all mankind; bid thou our sad divisions cease, and be thyself our King of Peace. Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”

Photo of a beautiful card painted by Bonnie Liefer

Has any eighth (or ninth) century prayer been so appropriate for us, today, December 2020?

The Jeremiah passage reminds me of one of my favorite books, None Like Him, by Jen Wilken. And Chris Tomlin.

God privileged Karis with a particular role to play in calling the nations to Jesus, both costly and joyful. Perhaps that work is not yet completed.

A Key to the Door Karis ages 26-30, Pittsburgh

I positioned Karis’s wheelchair so she could punch the button to open doors into the transplant clinic waiting room. I watched her smile as around the room bodies straightened and faces brightened. “Mom—”

“I know. Here, give me those bags so you can move more freely.”

“All but the blanket I crocheted for Hashim and Aida’s new baby. It’s wrapped and in the green bag. I’ll go to them first.”

I sighed as I unloaded all our stuff in a free corner. Like all clinic days, we would be here all day. First, waiting Karis’s turn for blood draw. The doctor would see patients hours later, in the order each one’s results came back.

I walked to the drink bar to prepare coffee for Karis, tea for me. She was still chattering in Arabic with Hashim’s family, gushing over the new baby whose father, like Karis, had undergone multivisceral transplant.

I knew only a couple of greetings in Arabic, which I employed awkwardly as I delivered Karis’s coffee and her collection of morning pills. Nodding to several others, I returned to my corner. I wanted some time to myself before I too engaged in catching up with those whose languages I did know.

Sipping my tea, I watched Karis move from one family group to another, chatting, laughing, hugging, weeping, listening. With her five languages, she could engage in heart-talk with anyone.

The Arabic-speaking families matter most to her, I realized. As far as I know, no Muslim family has ever refused her prayer, or her gift of an Arabic Bible. They know she loves them. Who can resist a bright-faced girl in a wheelchair, with the same TPN backpack they carry?

Images like these flashed through my mind when, after Karis’s death, I read in her journals her perplexity over whether God had fulfilled his prophecy to her at age sixteen in Brazil: “You will be a door to the nations. Many will walk through that door to find Christ. You will be given a key to that door.”

At sixteen, Karis had imagined something very different from a wheelchair and a transplant clinic waiting room. Marriage to a dynamic evangelist, sharing with him a spectacular international ministry . . .  In her journals, Karis cried out for understanding, but never found it.

“Karis, can’t you see?” my heart cried as I read her distress. “I wish you could read the letters and emails that poured in after your death, from all over the world. People telling me, in several languages, they first understood God’s love because of your love for them.”

I don’t know whether the “key” was Karis’s languages, her love, or her wheelchair. Or all three. Or something more. I can’t wait to meet in Heaven the people who walked through the Karis door to Christ.

My primary motivation in writing Karis’s story was exactly this: to keep the Karis door open. Because “Anthony” said to me, “Her ministry is just beginning.”

“You are the light of the world,” Jesus said to his followers. Little lights pointing the way to The Light.

Brighten the corner where you are.

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