God has surrounded us with some friends who are wonderful examples of perseverance in life and in their love and faith in Jesus Christ. Our one friend is one of these people. Yesterday, she shared her morning experience with us. She lives on her son’s small holding in a separate house. Actually, there are three houses for the different parts of the family, staff quarters plus workshops and a sales shop. Our friend’s house is set the furthest away. She has been in a wheelchair for many years. Like many others, it’s quite remarkable how she at 87 years old moves that wheelchair around. She is able to get into kitchen cupboards for crockery and cutlery, including the fridge. She is able to cook using the stove, load the dishwasher and many other household tasks.
The way the house is designed has a door from the lounge straight into the garage. The garage door is motorized, but an extra internal lock is used for safety as she lives alone with her two little dogs. On Friday morning, before opening the garage to let the dogs out, our friend was getting dressed and fell onto the floor. Physically, she is too weak to get herself onto the bed or even into the wheelchair from the floor. She can’t even sit up. She could not use her cellphone to call her son or grandson because her cellphone was on charge in the kitchen.
Well, she prayed asking the Lord to help … but just lying there on the bedroom floor would mean a very long wait, so she dragged herself from the bedroom to the kitchen … to her cellphone. The distance is roughly 15 meters. She explained to me that she really battled and struggled pulling with her weak hands and pushing herself with her feet, moving on her bottom. This operation took her an hour. Just picture that … 15 meters in one hour! That’s willpower, patience and determination. Once she reached her cellphone, she called her son, but when he arrived all the doors were locked … including the garage door that normally would be open by that time of the morning. He needed to go to his house, collect the spare keys and then come and help his mom. She was exhausted yet praised the Lord her son and grandson could get her into the wheelchair, get her settled and ensure she would be okay.
Most of us will not understand the fear of a handicap person, helpless when falling and unable to help herself. Able-bodied people often don’t understand the plight of wheelchair bound people (or any other disability) because we are not handicapped. We might complain about our “lot” in life or the ‘unfair’ treatment we have received from “mother nature” (actually, from God). Too often, we don’t consider those dependent upon others for their basic requirements in life. Our friend, however, is very determined to care for herself as far as possible. In her physical weakness she tries to fulfill all her requirements by herself. This motivates her to continue. It helps her mind stay active and gives her the satisfaction that even though bound to a wheelchair, she is not totally helpless.
Having known her for about 35 years; having seen her in a professional capacity running the managers department of a bank; having seen her so active as a wife, mother, grandmother, employee, church member and friend … it’s no surprise that at 87 she is still determined to do whatever she can to maintain herself without disturbing other people. The foundation of her determination, perseverance and patience is Jesus Christ. She knows her total dependence is upon her God. She is regular in her daily devotions and prayers. Although it’s lockdown, she does church online. She does not neglect her soul. Jesus is her Lord and the most important relationship she has. The reason I share her story with you today is because many people want to drop Jesus out of their life as soon as the smallest issue hits their life.
Look at this passage in the Book of Acts:
Ac 14:19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe. 21 They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. 23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
Paul was stoned, dragged outside the city and left for dead. Most Gospel workers will back off, desert or cease their duties … yet Paul “got up and went back into the city.” The following day he continued his ministry duties, preaching the Gospel in other cities, but returned to where the incident took place and started “… strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God …” The disciples might have feared the repercussions of their Christianity after Paul’s near death experience. Paul, the man of faith needed to show these followers of Jesus that they needed perseverance, determination and patience to follow Jesus because the pathway to glory is lined with many hardships. They needed to be strengthened in their understanding of Jesus’ Lordship. They needed to see through the eye of faith that irrespective how difficult the challenges are, remaining true to the faith means remaining true to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our friend’s story might not be the same as Paul being stoned, but both stories present the picture of perseverance, determination and patience. However hard or challenging the Christian pathway is, that needs to be you and me.
Dear God, thank you for the examples of persevering and determined faith. Help me to be a true disciple. Irrespective of how difficult the Christian pathway is, help me to persevere patiently all the way to glory. Amen.