My wife and I have spent the last couple weeks spelling each other in the hospital with my Mother who lives in Pennsylvania and suffered a stroke while visiting us in Texas. The event has caused us to order our lives in 12 hour segments – 12 hours with Mom in the hospital, then switching places between us to get essential things done and rest. Lately I have read in various articles that disruptions to our schedule can be helpful, keeping us from what can become habits in our lives toward comfort and towards the growth that God intends for us in this life.
Reflecting on the past couple weeks has resulted in some insights into how we like sheep go astray towards our comfort that can actually be devastating to us. One of the realizations as we have embraced these changes is the recognition that Mom needs us at this time, even though she is sometimes not cognizant of that need. That means that our wants and desires have to be largely placed on hold for the time being and put her needs before ours. Most would agree that this could be the cause of anxiety and frustration, but the peace we have experienced over the last couple weeks as we place this situation in Gods hands goes beyond understanding. We have adopted a day by day mentality and trust in God's provision, celebrating the little victories of Mom wanting to eat or take her medications, and letting the failings of the previous day go with each new day. At this time, she is totally dependent on the medical team and us to feed her and help with essential bodily functions.
Strokes are mysterious, affecting people differently. For my Mom, the stroke has accentuated her strong spirit and will, something which has typically been an asset to her through the difficulties she has experienced in life. When that strong will is focused on something that is leading one astray, however, like a sheep that is looking for greener pastures away from the shepherds care, it can actually be harmful and even lethal if a predator is nearby. I’ve seen during this time that what Mom thinks will be better, is actually hindering her health. According to the medical tests of her physical self, she is quite healthy for her age, with the exception of a common infection that the medical staff is attempting to treat with a medication that will kill the infection, The effect of the stroke is most evident with the state of her mind in which she cannot understand the need for medication for her condition, or the need to eat and drink. In time this misunderstanding becomes a vicious circle that tends to degrade her general health.
I’ve realized as I observe this, that what I sometimes think is better for me, especially when it involves my comfort may be leading me astray. That’s been helpful to understand the pathos of the writer of the Psalm that states “All we like sheep have gone astray…”. The passage implies that there is a way that is right for us, a pathway through life that brings joy, happiness and contentment to mention a few of the benefits. It has been interesting to note that as we stay with Mom, observing and going through the emotions that are created through our experiences with her, we find those three qualities emerging in various ways. Joy, when we see her become lucid, even for a short time. Happiness, to know that Mom is being taken care of well here, and not neglected. Contentment, that even though we do not know what tomorrow will bring, God will guide and be present in those decisions in a way that will continue the journey of knowing Christ, taking part of His sufferings, and having the peace that our Creator loves us and walks with us through life. When time is no more, He will wipe every tear from our eyes, even the ones we have shed here on earth for those we love and care for.