Good thing I've read the book of James.
Otherwise I could not have endured Thanksgiving Day at a nursing home.
I was prepared for the general lack of hominess-----we've been enduring that for the past almost eight months.
I wasn't prepared for Richard.
He's Stu's new room-mate.
He arrived the night before, with a pile of smelly luggage.
Richard smells bad, looks bad, and acts horrible.
He seems to be in pain a lot, and groans loudly for long stretches of time.
"God, help me die!!! Kill me, someone kill me"
When the pain subsides, he demands food or whatever else he needs without grace or consideration for the staff.
I find myself, for the umpteenth time, impressed by the self-control and patience displayed by the staff. This is their Thanksgiving Day, too, and they are serving some distinctly unthankful people! Neediness and pain are big trials for us all, and not everyone is considering it all joy:-)
We had already decided (wisely!) as a family to forego eating together at the nursing home. Instead, Rachel and Jerome and the kids came to visit before the mid-day meal there. Fortunately, I had thought to bring "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", and the kids didn't seem to notice Richard and his groaning.
We all got to watch as Stu used the transfer pole to get into his wheelchair, a definite sign of progress. Then Stu and I said goodbye to the kids in the big dining room, (not without a few tears) and they headed home to cook Thanksgiving dinner for later while I stayed with Stu for the afternoon. (I joined them later-----a sweet evening together that ended with hymn singing. Are you surprised that our last selection was "It is Well With My Soul"? Always a treat to hear Jerome's fine voice and Rachel's sweet alto singing timeless words. And the kids pitch in even when they don't know the words)
There were a few thoughts that helped me get through this "not-the-way-I-would-write-the-script" day.
I realized that there must be many, many people on this earth who were having a less-than-joyful day. People in abusive situations; prisoners; people without family; homeless, forgotten people. My prayers for them were heartfelt! I was experiencing a little of their disenfranchisement today. I prayed that they could experience the comfort of having the Lord Jesus at their side.
I also thought about a hundred years from now. How would I like to remember going through this difficulty? Walking through it with faith, holding my head up cheerfully and encouraging those around me, as Jesus encourages me. That sounded right.
Let me confess that this morning when I woke up, my heart was full of lament.
"God, why are you putting Stu and me through this trial? What about Christmas??!!! Ugggghhhh"
Is my heart that much different than Richard's?
Not in it's raw state, it's not.
Smelly luggage and all!
God patiently deals with me every single day.
And he has given me some words to live by, and the light to absorb them.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverence. Perseverence must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4
Apparently God's perspective is longer-ranging than mine:-) He's aiming at eternity! I can be truly grateful that he has taken me in hand, and shows no sign of letting go. Now THAT'S Thanksgiving!
Christmas season, here we come!