"You don't know their glory 'till you know their story."
Little glimpses of God's faithfulness sometimes catch me by surprise. This last Thursday, while attending a conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, I stood waiting for an elevator. I feared I would be late for my next session, and the elevator was taking forever.
Waiting with me was one of the "invisible people" at a conference. A smiling African-American gentleman had a cart of drinking glasses that was destined for an upper floor as well. We had exchanged "hellos" as we waited.
"Are you all teachers?" he asked. I told him we were. "Where are you from?" I replied that I was from Northwest Arkansas. "You know, a couple years ago, I saw one of my high school teachers at a conference here. I called her name. She didn't expect to see me, was kind of surprised to see that I had made a success of myself." He chuckled.
It was then that I noticed he had a compression sleeve on one of his arms and glove made of the same material on his right hand. He nodded as he saw that I had realized he had a story to tell.
"You don't know someone's glory 'till you know their story." He spoke with joy, shaking his head. "I got burned real bad. Fryin' catfish and carrying the hot grease outside, I tripped. Burned my head, my arm and hand so bad. My hand was burned down to the knuckle."
"You know," he continued, "you can't get away from the pain of a burn. They don't make a pill that strong. But I'm here. And every morning I wake up and thank God that I'm alive, that I can go to work, and come home to my family."
He'd have to wear the compression bandages for two years, but it didn't matter. He was so thankful to have a second chance.
We both noticed at the same time that we hadn't pushed the "up" button for the elevator. He and I shared laugh as the door opened almost the instant we pushed the button.
As the elevator opened again and I had to exit, we exchanged "God bless yous."
For a few moments, we had been given an opportunity to rejoice in God's faithfulness. We are strangers who will likely never meet again, but we are bound by a shared thankfulness for the goodness of God.