I had a difficult visit to my mother at the nursing home today. She's had an upper respiratory infection and has become withdrawn, irritable, and unresponsive to my attempts to soothe and encourage. For some reason, watching her receive a breathing treatment upset me greatly; the mask over her face, her uncombed hair, and the lines of suffering on her face were nearly unbearable to see. I was suffused with impatience, anger, resentment, grief; you name it, I felt it. It is not the intensity of these recent, relatively minor trials that caused me such distress today; we have certainly experienced worse. It is the duration of this journey through my mother's Alzheimer's: fifteen years and counting.
I have no grounds for complaint. I am sincere in my assertion that the Lord has provided for us every step of the way. There can be no "but" to the astounding truth that God is with us, God has gone ahead of us, and God is behind us; His dynamic, creative, virtuosity allows Him to sculpt our past, present, and future in ways we can't comprehend. Past hurtful memories are softened and backlit by grace, we are strengthened for present challenges, and even as the future hurtles toward us He sculpts it and prepares us so that every hard thing comes equipped with a path that has been prepared in advance for our weary feet to follow. He sees us through. As Matthew Henry says, "The Lord shall prevent the evil thou fearest, and sanctify, remove, or lighten the evil thou feelest."
I have found it so. We tend to ignore God's provision and complain loudly when our life's paths take us through unpleasant places. But as I left the nursing home today it came to me that although I would not have chosen this long season of service to my mother, I have been strengthened and blessed through it.
The Lord shall prevent the evil thou fearest, and sanctify, remove, or lighten the evil thou feelest. He will preserve the soul, that it be not defiled by sin, and disturbed by affliction; he will preserve it from perishing eternally. He will keep thee in life and death; going out to thy labor in the morning of thy days, and coming home to thy rest when the evening of old age calls thee in. It is a protection for life.