Learning to love by the ‘Nevertheless principle’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 22, 2019

“Your husband has a brain tumor.”  When author Marion Bond West heard those dreaded words, she felt overwhelmed by fear.  In fact, fear ruled her life until she heard God speak a comforting, overcoming word, “Nevertheless.”

Later, Mrs. West wrote about her experiences during her husband’s terminal illness in a book titled The Nevertheless Principle.  She’d studied the Bible and found “nevertheless” was used over 90 times.  “Nevertheless” became her motto of courageous faith in the face of fear.

One of the most inspiring chapters of her book, called “A Shawl for Thelma,” tells about her encounter with an elderly woman sitting in the same waiting room where she and her husband went for his outpatient radiation treatment.

Thelma would sit there staring straight ahead, not speaking to anyone.

While in the waiting room one day, West heard God speak to her heart, telling her to go over and talk to the lady in the wheelchair.  She told God why she didn’t want to approach the frail, hopeless-looking woman.

Their silent conversation continued with His Voice replying to every excuse she offered, “I know what is best for you.  Go on, Marion, tell her that I love her.”  In spite of her own fears, West walked over, introduced herself, and asked her name.  The woman didn’t answer.

Then Marion told her, “God loves you,” and asked her name again.  “Thelma,” the woman replied.  “I’m dying, you know.  I’ve never believed in God or asked Him for anything… and I’m too old and stubborn to start now.”

While in bed later that night, West heard God’s Voice again giving her specific instructions about a shawl on the top shelf in her closet.  “Give the handmade shawl.  Give it to Thelma…tell her it’s from Me.”  The next day in the waiting room, West stood behind Thelma’s wheelchair, pulled the shawl from a bag, and placed it around the woman’s shoulders.

“It’s not from me,” she said, “It’s from God.  Now, it may look like a shawl, but it’s not.  It’s the arms of God holding you.  Thelma, He loves you so much.  Let him come into your heart.”  In a few weeks her husband finished his treatments and she never saw Thelma again.

From a friend who worked on the oncology floor, West later learned Thelma had not been a model patient.  But the friend said Thelma was never the same after the day she came back to her room wearing a beautiful shawl someone had given her.

Thelma had begun to smile, attend chapel, and tell people God loved them.  Two months afterwards, she died and was buried in the shawl she always wore wrapped around her.

Someone once said, “The chains of love are stronger than the chains of fear.”  No matter what you are going through, God is with you.  “As the Apostle Paul wrote, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live…by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Jan White is a national award-winning religion columnist. She can be reached at jan@janwhitewriter.com