My grandmother turned 94 this past week. She can still walk without anyone's aid. She does not yet require a walking stick or wheelchair. She can still climb stairs by her own strength and enjoys sewing and crocheting.
Her attitude is one of happiness and joy nearly every day. Rare is the day when she is sad or maybe a bit out of sorts. For her the sun is always shining and she laughs frequently.
My grandmother is a precious little lady and someone who is always eager to give you a compliment or make you laugh. She is living in the twilight years of her life and yet she is not dismayed.
I admire her so much. There are times when I just watch her. Those moments are special to me. Her life is one of peace and contentment. And when I study her I wonder if I will reach the same number of years. And if I do will I be at least as gracious as she is? Would I have even half the strength and health she has?
And then when I have very discouraging and dismal days I feel that perhaps I don't want to reach her number of years at all. For when life is harsh and painful I can't imagine withstanding so many more years full of days so difficult.
Perhaps my grandmother had those thoughts from time-to-time in her many years of life too. I know she has suffered great pain and loss in the past. But even so she carried on. Not by her own strength but by God's care. At least that is what she has told me many, many times. She encourages me when I'm sad and weary. She can sense, even in her old age, what I am feeling.
" Its okay, hun." She says to me. " Trust God. He will help you. He knows your whole life. He will help you. Trust Him." And I would be tempted in those moments to ignore the words except that they come from the lips of someone who has seen and been through so much. What she says has meaning and power to me because they are real. She experienced every word.
C.S. Lewis once wrote: " We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be."
And there it is. I see my grandmother and how God has preserved her life and blessed her with children who have taken responsibility for her because they desire to, not because they feel obligated. She has held her children, grand children, and great grand children in her arms. Loneliness remains far from her because loved ones are always near.
And then I see myself and wonder who will care for me if and when I reach old age? I have no husband, I have no children, in fact in every area of life I have very little in this world. If nothing has improved for me by this point in life is there reason to believe that it ever will?
To this God responds in Psalm 68:6: " I place lonely people in families... "
And in Isaiah 41:10 He says: " Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
And I believe Him because I see every day living proof of His love, of His provision for those who love Him. God treats His children with respect and dignity and surrounds them in beauty and hope. And I realize that no matter what comes, He has already been there and knows the best way to help me through.
I say along with King David in Psalm 38:9: " Oh Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you."
And God reassures me with His promise in John 14:18: " I will not leave you as an orphan. I will come to you."
God is not human and so His capacity to love and care is alien to our ways. Just as His timing for all events in our lives are often not when we think they should be. Even so, His promises are never broken.
Is the future what we hope for? I believe the answer is no. Eternity not withstanding, even in this life our future is far, far better than anything we could hope to dream. God's care is over and beyond all expectations. To know it by experience God asks us to do one thing.... trust Him.
" When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?"