Psalm 84:5-6 – What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. (NLT)
Due to caring for elderly parents and dealing with family health issues, some days have felt especially dark and heavy, and I haven't been writing lately. But recently, today's verses challenged me to look for joy in the Valley of Weeping.
A few weeks ago, my 95-year-old father embarked on what will probably be the last phase of his life's journey. He fell in his home and had to be admitted to hospital. After his recovery from the effects of the fall, it was decided that he wasn't strong enough to return home. In early February, we moved him to a nursing home.
Throughout his life, my dad has faithfully trusted God to provide for his family. When he broke his leg and had to move to a different town in order to find work, he trusted God to meet his needs. He trusted God to take care of his children during their illnesses and to take care of the bills when jobs were scarce and the cupboard was bare. Every morning from the day I was born until his recent illness, my dad has prayed for me and my three brothers by name.
Now when I visit him, he lovingly speaks the names of my brothers and other family members and finishes each visit with the whispered words, "Remember, I love you." Some days he tells me that he is thinking of some of his loved ones who have died, and on other days when he isn't too weak or tired, I have heard him sing a few words from his favourite hymns. One day recently, he sang a few lines from the hymn, What a friend we have in Jesus, by Joseph Scriven.
- Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged:
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Though his mind is clouded when it comes to naming the days of the week, it is crystal clear when he speaks of the comfort that he has found in having a personal relationship with God and knowing that his final destination is in heaven.
Yes, at times, we may shed a quiet tear as we witness the changes in the minds and bodies of those we love. But we don't need to stay sad. Instead, the psalmist invites us to draw comfort on those dark days as we picture God receiving our loved one in heaven, and saying, "Well done, good and trustworthy servant! Since you've been trustworthy with a small amount, I'll put you in charge of a large amount. Come and share your master's joy!" (Matthew 25:23 ISV)
Prayer: Dear God, today when we see the changes in our health or that of our loved ones, we may shed some tears. But help us to draw comfort from our faith in You, knowing that You know the path and You will be our companion and guide through this Valley of Weeping. Amen.