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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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A new way to live

This Lent I've been pondering something a friend said to me a few days ago.

About three years ago he lost his wife after a long and difficult battle with Alzheimer's — a battle that drained him not only financially but also physically and emotionally.

When he was caring for her, he said the first year or so friends and neighbors visited, phoned, sent cards and tried to help in any way they could. They were  good about checking in to see how things were going and offering assistance. But as the months and years wore on, their visits began tapering off when they needed to attend to other concerns.

Then came the day when she died. Again friends and neighbors rallied around him. Again they invited him to have lunch with them, and offered to run errands and do whatever else he needed.

But all too soon the time came when there were no more phone calls and no more visits. "That's when I began to feel all alone, like I was fighting the battle all by myself," he said. "I had such a feeling of loneliness, such a feeling of abandonment — and I didn't have the energy to reach out."

"Now here comes the important part. Finally I began to realize that my friends and neighbors could only do so much for me. ... I was expecting them to do things that I should have been looking to the Lord for. My faith had long been the center of my life, but I wasn't looking to the Lord to help me through this. Now I knew that that's exactly what I needed to do.

"So I got out my hymnal and found my (and my mother's) favorite hymn, 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus.' [I] began singing it — especially the line that says: 'We should never be discouraged — take it to the Lord in prayer.'

"Then I paged through my Bible to a favorite passage, Psalm 121: 'I lift up my eyes to the hills — from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. ... The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.' At last I found the peace and support and comfort that I needed.

"How could I have overlooked this for so long? I don't know, but I know that now I have all that I need." 


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September issue

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