Tuesday, May 7, 2024
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Listen while you read: "What A Friend We Have In Jesus"1 (Lyrics)

Psalm 90:10 – The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. (KJV)

The Lord willing, in July of this year, the days of my years will be fourscore years and ten. Early one morning recently, that made me think of the many things that have changed in my life, personally as well as in society. I have lost all my ex-colleagues, some of whom I was in touch with up to a year or so ago. I have also lost some really good local friends. I talked with one of them on almost a weekly basis about his hockey career, personal things, our faith, and church life. Most of the people I knew at church have either passed away or moved, either into a nursing home or to be with or near one of their children. During the past year or so, Greta, my wife of 68 years, has been struggling with dementia.

I recall the struggles that we had when we first got married, but also the good times. I remember how we mourned the death of our first child and the joy that we had with three more healthy children, eight grandchildren, and eighteen great-grandchildren. There are so many places that we have lived and trips that we have made with our children or by ourselves, up until just a few years ago.

Now, for both of us, many days are somewhat of a struggle. Quite often we have trouble discussing important things in our daily lives: children and grandchildren, family members, current events, as well as the things that we need to do every day. Even the church has become less important to us, with new people and new ideas. Changes!

During my years doing pastoral care at the local long-term care facility, I had many discussions with some of the residents who were struggling, and I always cited three helpful Bible passages, which we then quite often discussed.

Psalm 46:1 – God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (NKJV)

Psalm 121:2 – My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (NKJV)

Matthew 11:28 – Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (NKJV)

Indeed, we do carry our burdens in prayer to God in Jesus' name, and we do receive strength from the Lord.

If you are going through a similar situation, some of the words of one my favourite hymns may speak to your heart: What a Friend we have in Jesus, by Joseph Scriven (1820-1886).

    Are we weak and heavy laden,
    Cumbered by a load of care?
    Precious Saviour, still our refuge:
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we pray that You will give us comfort, strength, peace of mind, and patience during the difficult times in our lives. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

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About the author:

Joel Jongkind <>
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you so much.

    Thank you for your words.

    Thank you, Mr. Jongkind.

    Changes yes, but Jesus is still our Friend.

    Thank you for your message. You write so well.

    Thank you for your heartfelt, inspirational message, Joel. God bless!

    Thank you. Living in a similar situation, I appreciate your words of understanding.

    How precious! Thanks, Joel.

    I’m praying for you and your dear wife, Joel.
    Blessings for all the wonderful work you do.

    Remember it well with my parents and I too am approaching a delicate age where I will have to decide some issues. Thanks again.

    Joel – Praise God for your faithfulness in continuing to share the daily challenges in your journey. May you be strengthened to meet each with grace and love.

    Joel, Thank you for sharing your experiences in this stage of your life – especially the detachment from past connections. May the Lord truly be your all in all in the coming days.

    Dear Joel,
    So sorry to hear about Greta. I pray that with meds and prayer she will not progress too quickly and you can still have some quality time together.

    Joel, we are of the same vintage, I celebrated my 90th birthday recently.
    Lost my wife several years ago, but God blessed me with another beautiful lady.
    So grateful for good health and happiness!
    Thank you for your devotionals.

    Thank you, Joel, for your heartfelt words. Some of our friends have died recently as well. It’s a sobering reminder to make the best of the time we have left to serve the Lord. May the Lord strengthen you and your wife in your daily struggles.

    Amen and amen, Joel. At eighty plus years old, fond memories of so many who’ve gone before provide many moments of consolation. Yet Scripture reminds us God continues to bless us with His love no matter what happens during our lives. May God continually bless those who love Him and whom He also loves with His Amazing Love! Blessings.

    Joel, your words resonate with me as I am now inching towards 84.
    A passage that encourages me at this point in my life, which is full of rapid change is
    Lamentations 3:22-24.
    God never changes.

    Dear Joel, you must have heard me grumbling as I got out of bed! At 76 my body rebelled with my familiar aches and pains. But the Holy Spirit reminded me of the privilege of growing old that many do not receive. I, as your beautiful writing reminded me, have been blessed by our Sovereign God with abundance of life. Thanks for sharing.

    Good morning, Joel!
    Thank you for your very real and thoughtful devotional today. It showed me the changing seasons of our lives so clearly as we wait upon the Lord. I would also like to thank you for the vivid insight into the other changes which are inevitable. Grace and Peace to you and your dear wife!

    One day at a time. It goes by. I celebrate with you your years, the opportunities God has given you, the blessings the challenges. I’m not as far as you in life, but this week has a milestone: I was ordained to Ministry of Word and Sacrament 50 years ago. Blessed be His Name, Who has blessed us on our way and allowed us to serve Him! Peace be with you, my brother!

    You’ve described life for many of us. My daughter gave me a gift called “Storyworth “. Each week I receive a question involving memories of growing up. At the end of the year, I will receive a book of my stories.
    What has been interesting is how one question sparks a whole raft of memories. And faith has been there throughout! Thanks for writing. I enjoy your efforts.

    Dear Joel,
    So good to see you are still writing. When I started to listen to the devotional, I knew it was you without seeing your name.
    I wanted you to know I was very happy today that you shared with us.
    Thank you.
    Keep being inspired. We love your words.

    Many thanks and appreciation for your devotional today, Joel. Yes, there are many changes to be dealt with as we age in this present world but faith in our loving Lord certainly gives us strength to go forward each day.
    Wonderful that you still prepare such special contributions to the devotional program at your present age and may the Lord bless you with much strength and energy in the times ahead.

    Your message was so poignant. I too share similar circumstances, but God is faithful. I have lost many of my classmates, close friends, and all my siblings and my late husband suffered some dementia, but he always knew me! Am sending prayers for good health and that God will keep watching over you and your wife. At 84 I have been asked to lead a Bible Study at a Retirement home.
    Keep up your devotions! We need to share your faith stories!

    Good morning, Joel,
    Lately a few devotional writers have mentioned their age, and I am always surprised. I enjoyed the Bible verses you chose to share at the nursing home. They apply to all ages and are very comforting.
    Your prayer is good for us all at any age as change comes with challenges at many times in our lives. Eighteen great-grandchildren I am sure are full of wonderful new happenings.
    Thank you for always being willing to share parts of your journey. Blessings.

    Good morning,
    It has been my pleasure for several years to be uplifted and nurtured by your contributions to Presbyterian Daily. Thank you!
    A very special friend suggested putting the information in our Church Bulletin. Since first subscribing I have read it daily, usually early in the morning. You, Lynn Phipps, and a couple of other contributors have become “friends,” from a distance.
    We will pray for you and your wife in our prayer time this morning.
    Once again, thank you!

    Dear Joel,
    Thank you for your devotional and testimony today. I love those verses, as they are some of my favorites too. I also reread Psalm 34 today and remembered how verse four was used to help Norman Vincent Peale get a focus to overcome some of his fear during the Great Depression in New York, many years ago. I really appreciate your special insights and wisdom in your devotionals. Blessings
    CONGRATULATIONS on your 90th birthday. I celebrated mine two years ago and my wife celebrated hers last year. You are so blessed to have each other—for my 90th I claimed Psalm 90 for the year and verse 12 has come back to encourage me many times.

    Thank you for your encouraging words today, Joel.
    Aging is indeed difficult as l am discovering every day. Praise God for His grace, wisdom, peace, and strength that is ever with us to show us and help us on our way. As so many l know have passed on in these last few years, the reality of how quickly we, like grass, whither and fade away becomes a very stark reality. Yet, what a hope and faith we hold that encourages us to know that this life is not the end but only the beginning when we hold tight to the One who loves us so.
    May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you and Greta, this day and forever.

    Hi Joel. Thank you for sharing what life is like for you as you approach your 90th birthday. I really appreciate your honesty. I hope you are able to find some joy and contentment in simple things and in small ways everyday. My mother is 95 and I see how her world has become much smaller now that she is no longer able to drive or travel. And she shakes her head at a lot of changes in the world today. But she has kept her sense of humour and is able to adapt, which seems to make all the difference. And we are thankful that her mind and all of her senses are still intact. God bless you, Joel, in the coming decade. And please keep writing your wonderful faith-building devotionals. You bless all of your readers.

    Hello Joel,
    Thank you so much for today’s devotional reading. I drank in every word and will read it again several times. I lost much sleep last night dwelling on current difficulties our daughter is going through. She and her two boys just moved back with us.
    It has been a very painful time for us all, but she is starting over with our help. So many things to do, but in what order?. And through it all she has given up on God. That hurts the most, but I know that God has not given up on her. So your words from scripture are like a healing balm to me. Thank you.
    I pray for you and Greta daily. God bless you both.

    What a beautiful but relevant message, Joel. Good morning.
    It is certainly a blessing to have reached our senior years, but they do, indeed, come at a price. I can claim ownership of eighty plus years, but they have presented me with health issues that plague my body daily, however, I thank God for each new day knowing that it is a privilege that many do not enjoy.
    Your dear Greta must have days so difficult in that her memory refuses to work for her, plus it is a huge strain on you as you watch her struggle, but God has allowed us this time and it’s ours to enjoy in the best way that we can.
    It is always good to read your messages, Joel, and I pray that we have a day that we all enjoy. The sunshine is such a treat, as is, opening the windows to let the fresh air in.
    Blessings to you and Greta.

    Dear Joel
    I want to tell you how much I appreciate your Devotionals when you post them. I can always tell within the first few lines that it is one from you. There is something about the way you write that makes it recognizable to me. Every time there is a long pause between devotionals from you, I wonder how you are doing.
    I know it must be difficult trying to help your wife as dementia descends on her. But I hope she always will know how much you love her even if she is confused. I pray that she will always feel the love you have for her.
    My Dad died several years ago with dementia. Although he couldn’t tell us who we were he always knew we were someone who loved him. And I imagine he would have also thought we were someone he loved.
    All the best for your upcoming 90th birthday!

    Dear Rev. Joel:
    Thank you for this message. I have often found wisdom in your posts, but this one truly helped me.
    I am in my mid 70s and I will have served many years as a part-time chaplain in a long-term care facility. I, too, have seen many changes and residents come and go over the years. The biggest change for all of us will be in June as I will be retiring. Unfortunately, I will not be replaced by a spiritual care provider.
    Before covid we had a roster of ministers and lay people who led worship on Sundays, and I took a turn in that roster. I led all worship from wing to wing during covid and have been trying to re-establish that roster post-covid. I have some people willing to come back, so when I retire, I will not be leaving my residents high and dry.
    I am leading worship on my last Sunday, and I have been struggling with what to tell my residents. I have always reminded them that God loves them, that God will not abandon them, that God will give them strength for today. But something was missing since the facility is abandoning a commitment to spiritual care. Your words have given me what I was missing, and to be honest, comfort as I transition to something new myself. God has a plan.
    Thank you for your words. I keep you and your wife in my prayers, knowing that God will strengthen you in the journey that you face.

    Thank you, Joel, for sharing your life with us. I, too, turned 80 recently, and it’s still a shock to see that number in print.

    I have always enjoyed your thoughts and insights through the years upon reading your devotions. I especially related to your comments re these delicate times as we age and meet challenges we never expected to share. You cover my feelings exactly re the changes that present themselves in so many facets of our life and we seem to have lost the energy to cope with them as we once did!! I appreciate your scripture references and like you, cling to our Lord for sustenance. Many thanks for helping us to know that we are not alone as we travel the road. Have a great day.

    Dear Mr. Jongkind;
    I just wanted to let you know that this devotional you wrote has deeply touched me. You have been a help to me in the past through your devotionals. I just wanted to let you know how impactful your devotions have been to me, and I am sure to many others as well.
    I know it sounds funny because we have never met, but you remind me of my uncle. He is about your age and is very dear to me. He also loves the Lord as you do and is an inspiration to many.
    When I read your devotionals, I read them with a Dutch accent that I imagine you have! You have helped so many others through your service with the long-term care community and in many other ways, I’m sure. Now, it seems you could use help and encouragement.
    May our Lord bless you and Greta. May He continue to give you strength. I shall keep you both in my prayers.
    Thank you for all of your kingdom work.
    God Bless you (and happy birthday in July!)

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