My youngest daughter has befriended a woman in a nursing home, visiting her on a weekly basis for the past few months. Last week I had the privilege of meeting her.
Unlike the other residents, this woman – a single mom of a 19-year-old son – is in her early 40s. Her body is gnarled and crippled not with age, but with rheumatoid arthritis. A large screen TV hangs on the wall opposite her bed, providing a diversion for the hours she spends bedridden. Excruciating pain makes it nearly impossible for her to move, so nurses get her up only once a week. Family rarely visit. And yet she smiles.
How is this possible, in light of the circumstances surrounding her? “I had to make a choice about how I’d respond to life,” says L. “I could be bitter and angry. Or I can accept my lot and be pleasant.” She makes it sound so simple.
This woman’s attitude amazes me. It also challenges me to consider my response in painful situations much less than the one she faces on a daily basis and for which there is no earthly escape.
As I’ve pondered the topic of pain and its purpose in our lives, I’ve thought about how easy it is to be impatient and discontent when life takes a detour filled with disappointment. But then Psalm 46:10-11 comes to mind: “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.”
These Scriptures remind me that God is in control even when life appears out-of-control. Our job is to be still and trust Him. He is Commander-in-Chief of the heavenly armies and He not only rushes to our rescue when we cry to Him for help, but He resides with those of us who are His children. He never abandons us. He is our fortress, our refuge in troubled times, and our security no matter what.
As far as I know, L. is not a believer. If she can respond to pain in a positive way, then I can do no less especially with Psalm 46:10,11 in my arsenal. My prayer for you and me is that we’ll apply these truths to our lives. That we’ll learn what it means to truly be still and let God be God even when we don’t understand the purpose for our pain. That we’ll honor God in our attitudes. And that, as we do these things, others will recognize that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is our help and constant companion.