Thou heardest my voice; hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry.
Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee; thou sadist, Fear not.
As we walk daily in our faith and face issues in our lives, we must always remember that the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, protect, strengthen and call you as His child. Because of the true grace of God and by standing firm in it, we are able to face tomorrow.
"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:3-4 (NIV)My family has always had dogs. My mother told me stories of how her little Rat Terrier, named Tinker, would lay across her stomach while she was pregnant with me. So, I guess it is natural for me to love them as much as I do. The only times that I didn't have one near me were during college while I lived in the dorm, and when I was living on my own as a young single adult. The college years were so full that I didn't really miss having a pet but when I was living alone I yearned for that companionship.
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:16-18 (NIV)
Carl was 88 years old and living all alone in a small apartment. After a long marriage, his wife had passed away several years before, and, because the rest of Carl's family had also passed, and because he had no children, his life was mostly spent alone in his home with the television providing the only voices and faces that he encountered each day. There were plenty of neighbors sharing the building, but they were mostly younger folks who were busy with their own lives.
One day, the local ambulance service received a call that said an 88 year old man, at this address, was having chest pains. Upon arrival, they checked Carl thoroughly, including running an ECG that would detect any heart abnormalities. Finding no problems with any of his vital signs, they advised him to call his regular doctor the next day if the pain continued. As they left, one EMT was overheard wondering if his pain was caused from a broken heart.
I had a very dear friend named Billye. She was a ray of sunshine and loved everyone. She kind of adopted me as one of her own children and we became very close. She was the one who encouraged me to seek ordination and was very excited when I chose to become certified for Hospice chaplaincy. We had no way of knowing that she would be the first person that would request my services.
After being diagnosed with a rapidly progressive brain tumor, it became necessary for her daughters to place her in a nursing home. Wednesdays became my day to visit with her and she always grabbed my hand when I walked through her door. One day, she asked me what she should expect as she neared death and I told her that some people reported seeing loved ones, angels, or even Jesus before they passed. When she responded that she hadn't seen anyone, I told her it wasn't time yet.
During my next to last visit with Billye, she simply asked me to sing "Jesus Loves Me" with her, so we sang it together. As I sat beside her bed, holding her sweet hand, she closed her eyes. I truly don't know if she was conscious or not, but she began saying, "Hi! Oh, hi!" as though she was greeting someone she hadn't seen in awhile. I was amazed and felt so honored to have been there for that moment. My husband and I went to see her the following Saturday and my dear friend passed away on Monday.
The elderly are among those in the greatest need of compassion. Often they are unable to get out of their homes without assistance. So many are in nursing homes because of health issues that cannot be dealt with at home, or in assisted living facilities because they simply are unable to live independently any longer. Physical issues, along with memory diseases, steal familiar lives from these dear souls. And many never receive visitors. No one knocks on their door with cookies, asks if there is anything they need, or if they would just like someone to sit with them for awhile and give them some company.
Brothers and sisters, when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, scripture tells us we are transformed, that we become new creatures. John 13:35 tells us, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." Once the love of Christ enters our hearts, we need to be using it to bless others. There are so many with needs. Some we can meet, others we can't. But visiting with the lonely is free and blesses them beyond measure. Just to open their doors to the smiling face of a friend can change their entire outlook on life.
I would like to encourage each of us to take the opportunity to hold an aged hand, visit someone that is lonely, or even just to send a card to a dear one in need of a smile. All it takes is a little bit of thought and a small amount of time. May God lead us all.
My heart exulteth in Jehovah;My horn is exalted in Jehovah;My mouth is enlarged over mine enemies;Because I rejoice in thy salvation.There is none holy as Jehovah;For there is none besides thee,Neither is there any rock like our God.Talk no more so exceeding proudly;Let not arrogancy come out of your mouth;For Jehovah is a God of knowledge,And by him actions are weighed.The bows of the mighty men are broken;And they that stumbled are girded with strength.They that were full have hired out themselves for bread;And they that were hungry have ceased to hunger:Yea, the barren hath borne seven;And she that hath many children languisheth.Jehovah killeth, and maketh alive:He bringeth down to Sheol, and bringeth up.Jehovah maketh poor, and maketh rich:He bringeth low, he also lifteth up.He raiseth up the poor out of the dust,He lifteth up the needy from the dunghill,To make them sit with princes,And inherit the throne of glory:For the pillars of the earth are Jehovah’s,And he hath set the world upon them.He will keep the feet of his holy ones;But the wicked shall be put to silence in darkness;For by strength shall no man prevail.They that strive with Jehovah shall be broken to pieces;Against them will he thunder in heaven:Jehovah will judge the ends of the earth;And he will give strength unto his king,And exalt the horn of his anointed.
I called by reason of mine affliction unto Jehovah,And he answered me;Out of the belly of Sheol cried I,And thou heardest my voice.For thou didst cast me into the depth, in the heart of the seas,And the flood was round about me;All thy waves and thy billows passed over me.And I said, I am cast out from before thine eyes;Yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.The waters compassed me about, even to the soul;The deep was round about me;The weeds were wrapped about my head.I went down to the bottoms of the mountains;The earth with its bars closed upon me for ever:Yet hast thou brought up my life from the pit, O Jehovah my God.When my soul fainted within me, I remembered Jehovah;And my prayer came in unto thee, into thy holy temple.They that regard lying vanitiesForsake their own mercy.But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving;I will pay that which I have vowed.Salvation is of Jehovah.
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:14 (NIV)"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 (NIV)