Hey guys! This is a short story I wrote, based on Luke 7:11-17. I wanted to share it with you guys, so I hope you enjoy!
At first Abbie thought it was the wind whispering to the trees, then she recognized her dead husband’s voice. She should be accustomed to hearing it; it had haunted her for a week now since he’d hung himself from that cypress tree beside their house.
How had she left him at home alone? She’d just gone to the well: “I’ll be back in a few minutes, love. Lie still and rest.” Simon lay on his pallet beside the fire, his eyes sunken. He’d had no strength to rise the past few days, but the physician said he wasn’t ill. Abbie didn’t know what was wrong with him, and her hands shook with worry as she nursed him. She had to go to the well to replenish the water supply for him to bathe.
“I’m just going to the well. I’m coming back in a few minutes,” she repeated. He nodded. She stood at the door unmoving, with the jar balanced in her arms. She was afraid to leave him. Their seventeen-year-old son was working in the fields with the other young men and wouldn’t be back until late. “Will you be all right alone?”
Simon nodded again, curled up on his side, and closed his eyes. Abbie set the jar down on the straw floor so she could kneel beside her husband and kiss his sallow cheek. His breathing was even. Relieved that he was asleep, she took up the jar and hurried.
Several of her friends were gathered at the well. They eyed her with anxiety as she came near. They knew about Simon’s mysterious ailment, and often came to bring her bread and herbs with which to nurse him.
Elizabeth set down her own jar and took Abbie’s from her. “How is Simon today?” she asked, glancing at the other women, who waited breathlessly for Abbie’s reply.
Abbie shrugged. She didn’t like everyone knowing about her problems. She didn’t like that everyone knew she was a failure to Yahweh’s sacred law that a wife must make her husband happy. Sometimes she wondered if even her close friends had good intentions in coming over so often to help her. Perhaps they were just like all the others, who pitied her to her face and laughed behind their hands.
“I think Simon is much better today,” she lied, taking the jar Elizabeth filled and handed to her. “He’ll want to eat – I must get home and prepare his supper.” Would they believe that? Her friends knew as well as she did that for the past week Simon had refused any kind of food.
“Are you sure?” Elizabeth’s forehead creased.
“Goodbye.” Abbie nearly tripped over a stone in the walk as she adjusted the jar on her head.
“Wait, Abbie.” Elizabeth ran to catch up with her. “Are you sure Simon is better? He’s been showing no signs of improvement. Don’t you want one of us to come with you?”
“He suddenly began to recover last night.” Abbie bit the inside of her cheek to keep back the betraying sobs. “Goodbye, Elizabeth.”
“I’ll come with you.”
“No!” Did she sound as though she were begging? She forced her voice to sound calm. “I’d rather be alone.”
Ignoring their stares, she rushed off. She felt she’d been gone far too long, though in reality it had been only a few minutes. She needed to get back to Simon….
But when she got home a horrendous sight greeted her. Something was hanging from the cypress tree whose leaves brushed against the wall. The jar smashed on the street. A scream tore itself from her throat. Simon’s neck was wrapped in a rope. His eyes were wide and fearful, nearly bugging from his head. His face was an awful charcoal-black.
Realizing what he had done, Abbie knocked into the trunk of the tree and burst into a spasm of violent sickness. That was before her world dimmed. When she revived, her husband’s body was already lying in the tomb. The hired mourners screamed and slashed themselves outside. Samuel, her young son, knelt beside her in sackcloth and ashes, his flesh lacerated. He held her, rocked her, and sang to her in a broken voice – the same lullabies she sang to Simon while he lay motionless on his pallet. Abbie buried her face in her son’s sackcloth, convulsing against him until she had no strength left for tears.
She stood by Simon’s tomb alone each night. Samuel stood a small distance away, his head bowed. He honored her frantic wish to be alone with Simon and his voice. The trees bent over her, weeping with her in her grief as she touched the cold tombstone.
“We will see him again,” Samuel had whispered to her so many times, stroking his mother’s hair. “The Lord will raise him up to meet us… to glorify Yahweh with the angels….”
Samuel tried desperately to comfort her. Each night he held her and rocked her until she slept. Her friends tried to commiserate with her, but Abbie wanted no one except Samuel. He was all she had left, and he was the only one who loved her.
A few days later he went out to the fields – the sheep must be rounded up, or all their livelihood would be gone. He didn’t want to leave her, but Abbie insisted that he did. Even though her friends and several of their husbands were there with her, he hated to go.
“Please take care of my mother,” he pleaded with Elizabeth. “I’m going to run out there and herd the flock as quickly as I can, Mother, and then I’ll be right back.”
“Go,” Abbie said gently, trying to put him at ease.
Samuel knelt and clasped her to his breast for a long moment before he ran out the door.
When he returned, he was gray and drawn and shivering violently. In his rush to get home as quickly as he could, he had lost his footing and fallen into the frigid river. His teeth chattered until they knocked together. His face turned blue, then purple. He looked on the brink of freezing to death.
Abbie cried out and ran to him, flinging her arms around his neck. His clothes were soaking. Streams of water dripped from his body into depths on the floor.
“What happened to you?” Abbie screamed.
Samuel tried to choke out the words, but suddenly he turned deathly pale and fell in a faint on the floor. Abbie screamed again. She watched, nearly blind with horror, as three of the men rushed to Samuel and picked him up from the floor. They eased his sagging body onto a pallet.
“He’ll be all right.” Elizabeth and Hannah put their hands on Abbie’s shoulders and tried to calm her. “He’s just having a shock from the cold.”
Abbie fought their tender hold and fell beside her son. “What can I do?” she pleaded with the men through sobs.
“Build the fire, Hannah.” Levi motioned to his wife. “We must get him warm. Abigail, get him into dry clothes and blankets right away.”
Frantic, Abbie followed his directions. She got her son into dry clothes and wrapped him tightly in blankets. Still, his eyes did not open.
She lay beside him and took him in her arms as she had when he was a little boy. In tears she pleaded with Yahweh to heal him, but his precious body never warmed. In the morning he was stiff and cold.
A few hours later the men had taken him from the arms of his heartbroken mother. They would carry him out on a funeral bier to his tomb; he was to be buried beside his father.
Abbie’s friends hysterically tried to comfort her, but she disengaged herself from their arms, preferring to walk alone. She walked beside the funeral bier and took her son’s dead hand. Samuel had cared for her… and she hadn’t cared for him. She had failed him the same way she failed Simon. Now she had no one… and it was her own fault. She gathered her shawl about her and wept violently.
The procession reached the gate of Nain, beyond which Samuel was to be placed beside his father. Twelve men entered the gate past the funeral procession. They glanced pityingly at the widowed, weeping mother; but looking uncomfortable, they hurried on. Abbie turned away, not noticing the other man with them… who had not hurried on at sight of her tears but was approaching. In the next moment she felt his strong hand on her shoulder.
Gently, he asked, “Why are you weeping, my daughter?”
Through tear-blinded eyes, Abbie found herself looking into the tenderest face she had ever seen. This man was young and lovely; strongly built, with dark eyes. From those eyes he gazed at her with love, as though he had known her all her life. But she had never seen him before – she would have remembered if she had.
“They are carrying my son away,” she sobbed. “My son… my only son. My husband is dead, and now my son is dead, too!”
The man cupped her chin and wiped her tears away with his thumb. “Weep not,” he said tenderly. “Your son is not dead, only asleep.”
“No, sir.” She pulled away. This stranger knew nothing – why was she even speaking to him? Not even her friends understood her… what made her think that a stranger in travel-stained clothes would? “My son is dead. I must go on and bury him beside his father.”
The man shook his head again. “Your son is not dead, but asleep.” He took her hand and drew her closer to the bier. Then he touched Samuel’s colorless cheeks and said in a loud voice: “Young man, I say to you, rise!”
Samuel blinked. He stirred. His eyes opened fully, and they were even more beautiful than before. They beheld his mother and the tall stranger in amazement. “Mother….”
The stranger helped Samuel get off the bier and stand up. “Go to your mother,” he said.
“My son!” Abbie could hardly speak through the overwhelming awe that filled her. She crushed Samuel against her breast. “My son… my son… my son….”
She turned to the stranger. Her heart was lifted and light and soaring with joy. Realizing that he must be a prophet sent from God, she threw herself at his dusty feet and kissed them. “My Lord and my God!” she cried out, suddenly terrified. Who was she to touch him… whoever he was?
The crowd stirred, gazing at one another with open mouths. “A great prophet has risen among us!” someone cried, and several turned to run, frightened of him who had just raised a dead man to life.
Overcome with faintness and shame and unworthiness, Abbie fell on her face in the dust. But she felt the prophet’s hand on her head, then he drew her to her feet.
“Don’t be afraid of me,” he said, smiling at her.
“Who are you, Lord?” she gasped, feeling as though she were drowning in a swirling river. She was still frightened to look into his face… frightened that the glory of it would strike her dead.
“My name is Jesus,” the stranger said kindly. He tipped her face towards him so she would look at him. She trembled, but he took her into his arms and stroked her to calm her. “And you are Abbie, aren’t you? And this is Samuel,” motioning to her son.
“How do you know us?” she whispered.
He smiled again. He had a lovely smile. “I always have,” he said. He clasped her in one arm and Samuel in the other.
Abbie found herself smiling back. He was not terrifying… he was the most real and beautiful man she had ever seen. “Will you know us always?” she asked.
“When you pray to your heavenly Father, his Son hears,” Jesus said. “I am the Son, and whoever prays to the Father prays to the Son.”
Abbie threw her arms around Jesus before he departed. And she walked home rejoicing, with her arms around her son.
That night when she and Samuel knelt together, they thanked Jesus for the end to their grief and the beginning of a new and wonderful life.
“I know I have seen the Messiah,” Abbie prayed from the safety of her son’s arms. “And I know He always knows me.”