“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. Mark 10: 51
Some of the hardest decisions we have to make in this life come when we are older. You would think it would get easier and less complicated, but instead it seems to get much more difficult. Many of you have been in this same place with your parents and grandparents as you work together to try to decide what would be best for them. So many emotions come into play. Sadness over the changes, confusion over what to do, doubt, guilt, frustration, and even grief. It can create overwhelming anxiety and stress for all involved as we deal with the reality of the situation.
My niece is facing such decisions with her mom, my dear sister, Ruth. She has had a difficult time the last few months and has been hospitalized and diagnosed with some challenging health problems, including Alzhimer’s. She has been in an assisted living home, but hasn’t received the care she needs, and she and her daughter are now trying to make the difficult decision of whether to move her to a more skilled care facility or to take her home with round the clock assistance.
Last week I spent some time with Ruth, and we talked about the decision before her. She talked openly about her life and how difficult it had been to give up her husband when she was in her early 30’s from lung cancer and to raise their 5 year old daughter alone. She talked about how blessed she has been to have good health up until the last year and how active, independent, and busy she has been. But now these problems – of accepting that her life is changing and that she will no longer be able to be the helpful, loving mother and grandmother she longs to be – seem difficult, as well. And even though she trusts God, she admitted that she is struggling to follow His will and to accept what is to come. I listened with a broken heart and searched for the right words to comfort and encourage her, but none seemed adequate.
I told her how sorry I was, how much we all love her, and how much life she has before her – maybe not in the way she had hoped, but life with all its goodness. I told her I thought I understood a little of what she was feeling. I remembered how hard it was to accept Bob’s diagnosis in his early 50’s that he had congestive heart failure and how much we worried, but what good years there had been since. She said she also understood how difficult it had been for me to find out 4 years ago that I too have major heart problems. I reminded her that it also took us some time to adjust and accept, but now we are just grateful for each day we have together, enjoying each one, and trusting in Him. And I know she will do the same.
Her eyes filled with tears and with the sweet concern she always has, she said, “Oh, Charlotte, I’m so sorry! What can I do for you?” And through tears, I replied, “I’m good! What can I do for YOU? How can I help you?” And we knew. We smiled, took each other’s hands, closed our eyes, and we prayed. First me, then her. Sometimes a prayer is all any of us need, as we look to Him for strength, guidance, assurance, and peace.
How grateful we can be that our Lord wants us to come to Him with our needs, and is asking us the same question. For we see in the book of Mark that the blind man, Bartimaeus, called out to Jesus for mercy from the side of the road as Jesus and His disciples traveled to Jericho, “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked, and the man replied, “Rabbi, I want to see.” And Jesus said,“Go, your faith has healed you.” And it did.
May we trust in Him with faith as we travel these uncertain and painful roads of life. May we let Him come to us and allow Him to give us what we need most. How grateful we can be that He will always respond with His love and care.
And may we share His love with others as we ask those around us what we too can do for them. There are so many who are hurting and need reminding of the strength and assurance they can find in His presence. No question can show more love and concern than the one Jesus asked, “What can I do for you?”
Dear Lord, we are so grateful that you are always with us, and that you long to provide whatever we might need. Thank you for your love, grace, and strength to accept those painful things in life that can fill us with such fear and anxiety. May we trust in your loving presence to carry us through. Amen