Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Onward Christian Soldiers"1 (Lyrics)
She was 91, able to live on her own and manage her own life. She had a few health issues, but her major concern was intolerable back pain. She sought various remedies, finally settling on surgery to insert a spinal cord stimulator. In July, 2021, she awoke from the surgery saying, "I can't feel my legs." Since then, she has been confined to a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down, dependent on others for her care. She lives in a private care home with nine other residents; most are too incapacitated to interact with her. It would be a miracle of God if she were healed.
I visit weekly, as do a few others. One son lives locally and visits often. One caregiver is a believer, so they are able to pray and talk about God together. Several pastors visit; she has an iPad and watches sermons and listens to Christian music. But that leaves many empty hours to think about her life — and it's difficult to consistently maintain a positive outlook.
The other day, even though she was feeling lonely and sad, she said, "I just want to do what God wants me to do. I know He put me here for a reason. The people here need to know about Him." Her faith is strong, and this has been her repeated statement since the paralysis.
Psalm 56:8 – You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. (NLT)
God knows my friend's sorrows. He knows our sorrows, too, and grieves with us. But in our sorrows and grief, we have a choice: we can wallow in them, diving into depression, or we can turn to Him in trust. We can choose, as my friend does, to believe that we are here for a reason.
1 Peter 5:7 – Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (NLT)
Notice those words: choose and give. They require action. What can we do? First, study God's Word. It records stories of many heroes of the faith who made it through trying times with God's guidance and help. We can choose to follow their example. Second, confess our struggles; it helps us to understand that we may be part of God's bigger plan and choose to wait with patience for His answers. Third, share our struggles with our fellow believers. Carrying each other's burdens is an essential part of following Christ. Last, look for ways that we can give comfort to others. It helps us to look beyond ourselves.
Following these steps will help us to make our way through many types of difficult times. They are also steps that we should follow when our lives are going well, as they will strengthen our abilities to deal with anything that life brings us.
Prayer: Father, we pray for those who are trapped in desperate situations. Enable them to maintain their faith and witness. Guide each of us as we work through our own difficult situations. Help us to look to You and to praise You in all things. Amen.