Psalm 103:17 ESV
“But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children…”
I hope you had a meaningful time with family over this Christmas and New Year’s season. While many are rushing about, shopping for gifts, preparing food for larger family groups, others are alone and lonely.
My family of origin celebrated Christmas together Saturday. We’re a smaller group than usual. The children and grandchildren of one family all live out of state. Three of four of my youngest brother’s children have moved out of state and were unable to be with us. Several others missed due to illness or personal circumstances. But oh, how good it was to be together.
We shared memories of my father and my late husband and laughed with the joy of remembering both funny and meaningful experiences. The day when Dad, a few days before his death from leukemia, asked me if I saw the man in the corner of the room. I did not.
“Do you?” I asked.
“Yes.” He nodded.
I wanted so badly to ask what the man looked like, but felt like I was on holy ground and didn’t want to mess with that. So I didn’t ask, but have often wondered whether it was Jesus or an angel he saw in his room that day.
And the time Jerry, my late husband, was hallucinating in the ICU (common for folks in ICU because there’s no difference between day and night and they tend to get a bit loopy). “Carol, there are criminals here and we have to do something about it.”
I knew I couldn’t deal with him logically. That’s just not where he was. So I said “OK, I’m going to step out into the hall and call Bob (my younger brother, then a police officer in San Jose).”
I explained the situation to Bob, who was 3000 miles away, and said, “Help me here.”
His reply was instant. “You go back in there and tell him I’m on it.”
And I did.
And Jerry said “OK.”
And that was the end of it!
And oh, we laughed at the antics of the next generation, the teasing of nephew Kyle, the answers to questions about how our nieces and nephews met and what first attracted them to each other…
My brother Arnold’s story about being in a nursing home when an elderly woman in a wheelchair motioned him over.
“I have something to show you. Take me to my room.”
After asking where her room was, Arnold wheeled her into it. She asked him to close the door. Not knowing what to expect, he did.
“I’m so sorry I haven’t been nice to you recently. I’ve kept things from you … just take me to bed.”
He ran out of the room to the nurse’s station, asking them to care for the woman.
And my oldest brother, Melvyn’s, tender story about a developmentally disabled boy who needed a medical procedure but was terrified. Refusing to go into the room where the procedure was to take place, he sat on the floor in the hallway. He already had a port in his arm, so Mel sat down on the floor beside him and talked to him, meanwhile inserting anesthetic into the port. When the boy fell asleep, Mel picked him up, carried him into the room and successfully completed the procedure.
Families experience both joy and sorrow. We’ve lost family members over the years–my nephew Greg, Dad, Jerry. We’ve lost others to geographic changes which are part of the natural course of life. While we miss these greatly, we also are happy, wanting what is best for each family.
We’ve also dealt with a few difficult, painful issues that have required support and/or forgiveness and reconciliation. But because at the bottom line we love and respect each other, we’ve worked through these issues to deeper understanding of and with each other.
“Bear with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgive each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” – Colossians 3:13
And while we’ve had our disagreements, we’ve also come together in significant ways to support, encourage, and love each other.
I am deeply blessed by being part of this particular family.
But what if you aren’t part of a loving, caring family? God has promises for you as well. Psalm 68:5-6 say He is
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
For more insight about God’s promises to those who are lonely, see https://billygraham.org/story/are-you-lonely-this-christmas/ .
I pray God’s richest blessings, His faithfulness and encouragement, His hope to you in this new year.