I have just come from visiting my aging mother-in-law who lives in our home and is continually confined to bed because of her arthritis. She has been in this condition now for 2 1/2 years. Every day, care-givers come to provide for her personal care. She is also a constant responsibility for my wife, Carolyn. Her mother is 97 years old.
In our visit, she asked about my day and then wondered if we could sing together. For the most part she forgets many details about life and people she has known. But she remembers hymns and Scripture verses which have been so much a part of her life for so long. (She opened her heart to the Lord when she was in her late teens, went to Bible School in Saskatoon, and then went on to Moose Jaw to work for Child Evangelism Fellowship. There she also met and married my wife’s father, Link Anderson, who passed away over 14 years ago, and who Laura no longer remembers.) So I asked her what her favourite hymn was. She began singing, Jesus bids us shine, with a clear pure light, Like a little candle burning in the night. From His home in heaven, Jesus bids us shine. You in your small corner and I in mine. So we sang that several times and then went on to Jesus Loves Me and I Will Sing of My Redeemer.
So many times Carolyn and I have wondered why it is that the Lord keeps her here in this state of existence while she has already lived so long. We love her dearly because she has been a wonderful mother to us and grand-mother to all of our children, but now that she is in this condition and requires all of this kind of care and responsibility, we wonder why the Lord doesn’t take her home to heaven. We would be so glad for her and our own burdens would be lessened considerably giving us the opportunity to travel and share more time with our own children and grand-children. So our emotions are really quite mixed at times.
But mother tonight was also musing about her condition and why it doesn’t change even though she prays it would. Finally she has come to the conclusion that this is the will of the Lord and she has accepted it. She often says,”He knows it all, He knows it all!”
She is right. He knows it all! So I kiss her good-night, tell her I love her, and leave a little more inspired by the thought that God knows.
For us, this is definitely an experience in suffering that we don’t accept too easily at times. But there are those other times when we look at her and smile about God’s grace in and through her even in this experience — both toward us and to others who come and share or care for her. She has been blessed with some wonderful care givers and a couple of “angels” who come and see her regularly. And so we continue on in the midst of our questions and trust God that He is doing something bigger and better than we can ever see. It is a journey of faith that extends to this aspect of our lives in a big way in these days.