I first met Martha as she was sitting on a bench in the park where I was taking my baby for a walk. My husband and I had been married for two years, and we had just had our first child. Martha was staring vacantly into space and didn’t acknowledge me when I sat down to tend to my lively eight-month-old boy who already didn’t want to stay put in his stroller.
When she saw him, Martha’s expression came alive, and she smiled at me and the baby. I struck up a conversation with her, and found out that she was a retired nurse and midwife. She was slim and petite, and although in her 60’s, she still wore her hair in shoulder-length soft waves. She told me how she had never gotten married but always loved babies and had delivered hundreds of them.
As we continued talking, she explained that she had taken a leave of absence from her work due to long hours and a demanding schedule. Later, I learned that she had actually had a nervous breakdown, and that as she struggled with her recovery and recurring depression, her temporary leave of absence had become permanent.
She explained that she enjoyed coming to the park because being out in nature made her feel at peace. I shared with Martha how Jesus had once said, “Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,”1 and before leaving the park that day, Martha prayed to receive Jesus as her Savior.
From that point on, Martha was a changed creature. She began studying the Bible and was soon spending most of her time helping others, while her bouts with depression grew fewer and further apart.
About a year later, Martha showed up at our door with a plastic baby bathtub packed full of items for a newborn. “This is for you,” she said with a knowing smile. “Congratulations on being pregnant again!”
I was dumbfounded. I hadn’t yet told anyone except my husband that I was pregnant again. But somehow Martha knew. And she had taken the time to gather a lovely surprise present for me and the new little one on the way.
When the time came, my husband and I were overjoyed at the addition of a healthy baby boy to our family. After the delivery, however, some complications set in and I developed an infection and fever. Fortunately, it didn’t affect my newborn, so he could stay in my bedroom with me, while my husband cared for our older son. I wasn’t alone, though: When Martha heard about my condition, she immediately packed a bag and moved into my sickroom with me.
For the next two weeks, she was at my side day and night, caring for me constantly. After I’d finish nursing, she’d take the baby from my side, change his diaper, and put him to sleep in his bed. Martha prepared nourishing meals that helped build up my strength, and gradually the fever and infection began to subside. Through it all, Martha was a pillar of comfort and encouragement, talking with me, reading to me, and praying for me.
Martha continued to be a frequent visitor to our home, until one day she came with some serious news. She had been diagnosed with cancer and needed to enter the hospital right away. In spite of all that the medical profession could do, Martha passed away calmly and peacefully not long after.
One of Martha’s favorite Bible verses was: “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”2 Martha had found her Savior, and from that moment on, the light of His love had shone ever brighter in her life and had inspired her to become more like Him.