A Portrait of God’s Grace

Pamela Canty

The phone rang. Had I known this call would change my life, I would have run a little faster to answer it. On the line was a girl I had never met. Her name was Darchelle. Since our parents knew each other and we were around the same age, she thought that we should be friends.

As we became closer, I realized how special she was and how much I needed a friend like her. We swapped stories about being preachers’ kids. We found a sense of sisterhood in being the only girls among a brood of brothers. We laughed and even prayed together. Darchelle showed me God’s grace.


The Pain of Disease

Darchelle suffered from a painful and life-threatening disease called sickle cell anemia. It deprived her body of oxygen-rich blood and caused episodes of extremely painful circulation in her chest, joints, arms, and legs. Sometimes the crises were unbearable; and she would end up in the hospital for days, weeks, and even months.

Sickle cell caused emotional pain as well. Darchelle’s self-image suffered as she lost her hair and her eyes turned yellow from jaundice. At times, she needed a cane to stand and to walk. People didn’t understand, and their stares and careless remarks hurt her deeply. Darchelle endured the ache of disappointment. The unpredictable nature of her disease disrupted her daily plans and canceled her dreams for the future. Day after day, year after year, she missed out as life passed her by.


Inner Strength

devozine Darchelle2-FTRDarchelle learned to cope with her discomfort and frustration. She had bad days, but she never complained about the way life had turned out for her. She lived one day at a time, cherishing each moment she had been given. Nurses poked IV needles into her veins; but God was at work too, pumping supernatural doses of strength, peace, and joy into her spirit. Second Corinthians 12:9a (NIV) says it best: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Instead of moping around, Darchelle became the perfect hostess. From her sick bed, she served drinks, music, good conversation, laughter, and encouraging words. Evident in her life were the words of Isaiah 12:2a (NIV):

Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song.


The Ministry of Suffering

Although Darchelle has gone home to be with the Lord, her life has left in my heart a portrait of God’s grace. Even though she was in agony, as God’s ambassador, she smiled and was kind to others. She celebrated life, even when she had no apparent reason to rejoice. Darchelle used her disease as a stage on which to spotlight God’s power and all-sufficient grace. I’m forever grateful that God loaned her to this world, even for just a little while.



Think about this lesson Darchelle taught me: sickness, hardship, and discomfort may be blessings in disguise. In them, we see our limitations and come to lean more fully on God’s grace. Let Isaiah 40:27–31 and 2 Corinthians 12:9–10 speak to your heart today.

Pamela Canty lives in Philadelphia with her husband (who just happens to be one of Darchelle's brothers) and two beautiful children.

—from devozine (May/June 2009). Copyright © 2009 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved.

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