“Why am I still here?”

Last night Jim’s mom was thinking back through all the people in her life who had passed on — parents, husband, sister, cousins — and wondering why the Lord left her here. I tried to reassure her that if God had her here, He had a purpose for her. She grinned and said, “To be an example in suffering?” Then she reassured me that though she had had some tough spots in her life, she wasn’t really suffering, especially as compared to some others.

The conversation reminded me of an article years ago in Frontline magazine called “A Psalm for Old Age” by Esther Talbert. We knew the Talberts: we attended church with them for several years before we moved out of state. Esther’s mother-in-law, Jean, had been one of the sweetest, merriest hearts I had ever known. Then she got Alzheimer’s, and it was so sad to see her standing away from everyone looking confused and uncertain. She was one whose situation caused me to wonder why the Lord let some of His children go through such things instead of taking them on Home. Part of Esther’s article addresses that:

Verse 18 of Psalm 71 says, “Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not, until I have showed Thy strength unto this generation, and Thy power to every one that is to come.” As a nursing instructor cherished by her students (of whom I was one), Mom imparted to her young charges far more than nursing skills. To many she was a surrogate mother and spiritual counselor who showed the strength and sweetness, the love and faithfulness of the Lord. Now God is using her to show His strength and power—perfected through weakness—to my husband and me.

There is a reason God leaves the elderly and infirm among us, and it is often not for their benefit but for ours. If we are not too busy and self-absorbed, we may learn the qualities of Christ that we lack and that He desires to mold in us, the transformation of character He intends to accomplish in us, by confronting us with their presence and needs. By the time something like Alzheimer’s strikes, God is about done with His earthly work in someone like Mom. “Why, then, does He leave someone to linger like that?” we wonder. His earthly work in Mom is done, but much of His earthly work in us and others, through Mom, is just beginning. He strengthens us daily to love and care for her. In the gentle rebuke of His mercy, He is molding and changing us—revealing our selfishness, unfolding His fifth commandment in new ways. Only as I myself am moldable will God’s power, in my turn, shine through me to “this generation and . . . to every one that is to come.”

Romans 8:17-18 says, “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Some day that glory will outshine everything else, even the trials of this life that loomed so large at the time.

13 thoughts on ““Why am I still here?”

  1. Hi Barbara,

    Sorry for the delay in responding to your comment on my patriotic print… been busy at my end.

    I trust that you’ve had a joyous Fourth.

    Thanks for the updates on your mother-in-law. I love the verses you have chosen.

    Have a blessed rest of your weekend.

  2. Nancy has had her insulin shot,
    and had lunch. I have a few minutes to write a note.
    The rest of the gang are up at a friend of my daughter Carrie. They went swimming! Too much sun for Nancy! Lupus patients are not suppose to be in much sun! Besides it is Hot and humid! Glad you had a great Fourth!
    It sounds like you are doing a good job with your Mother in law! Wonderful post! Love, Grams

  3. Wow! What a post! Thank YOU! For the reminder that I’M the one supposed to be learning something from this … cuz surely sometimes I forget that! But I also thank you for the reminder that the glory comes LATER! Much later! I was MIA for the post about your MIL getting settled in at her new place. How did that little note work out for her? Was that comforting to her?

  4. Hi everything works for good for those who fear the Lord. It reminds me of my mum siz. It was painfull to see her die of cancer but one thing i will never forget was the Hope and Faith she had in God. She was a symbol of unity and through her hard times many came to God. Learn for their is something God is teaching us from the situation.

    May his grace be with u

  5. Coming in late, but this was a great reminder. For a time, I worked as a personal care assistant in a retirement community. That meant I would be in one on one situations with clients in their own homes, most often overnights.

    They all blessed me in different ways, but one of my favorites was a beautiful little lady with Alzheimer’s. I learned so much from and was so blessed by her and her family. I still pray for them often.

    Lifting your mother-in-law and your whole family up that you might find some joyous memories during this time.

    In Peace,

    Julie

  6. I loved this! Just what I needed as I’m dealing with my mother getting ready to go through both eye surgery (her lens implant from cataract surgery came loose from Bell’s palsy and has to come out) and hip replacement. But it helps to see it as a blessing; the first time around she was there for me!

  7. don’t know if anybody cares but mom came through the surgery great he not only took out her lens but also all the stuff that was supposed to be holding it in that’s been causing her trouble for at least the past 6 months!

  8. That’s great news, Donna! I am so glad. My mil has some kind of eye trouble in one eye — turned from brown to blue and clouded over — which two doctors now have said there is not anything that can be done. That makes it rough when her favorite pastime is reading.

    I know what you mean about it being a blessing to care for those who have cared for us — or in my case, one who cared for my husband.

  9. Pingback: Alarmed and appalled « Stray Thoughts

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