This is part two of a series about Tom and Faye. Tom is 68 years old, and was admitted to hospice with ALS, “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” Tom’s gentle, humble and thankful spirit makes one wonder what he has that we don’t. Oswald Chambers wrote in “My Utmost for His Highest,” “We can’t give to another that which we have found, but we can make them homesick for what we have.” Tom makes me homesick for what he has. I’ve observed that some people with terminal illness — like trees, more majestically — display their uniqueness and splendor right before their leaves begin to fall.
Tom declared, “staying humble” helps him cope. He explained, “I thought I was 10-foot tall and bullet proof, that I could move mountains. But God showed me that I’m only about a half-inch tall and can only flick rocks.” Despite the total upheaval of their lives, Faye proclaimed, “We are more thankful now than ever. We are happier here than anywhere.” Through humility, seeing who they are and who God is, they have discovered the joy of a thankful heart. But I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. As you can imagine, Tom and Faye have their share of challenges.
Several weeks ago, they were troubled over a personal conflict with a family member. Tom attempted to console Faye, “You are seeing through a glass dimly, but by and by, you will see more clearly.” He turned toward me and said, “God’s been showing me that He can make something good come out of everything.” He then quoted Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” He added, “But it has to work, like making pickles or sauerkraut. It’s a process and you can’t rush it. It takes time. Some things may not even work out until after you’re gone. Look at the apostle Paul. He’s saved more people since his death, through his epistles (letters), than he did when he was alive.”
Tom’s statements inspired me to explore the meaning and manifestation of patience, as a virtue, and I came to realize that I’ve had some mistaken ideas. I turned to one of my trusted authors. Charles Finney points out in his book, “The Principles of Love,” that the Greek word for patience is “huponome,” which he described as, “Unswerving constancy of intention; perseverance under trials; bearing up under afflictions, privations, crosses, persecutions or discouragements; steadfastness of purpose in spite of obstacles.”
I also turned to the Bible, James 1:2-4, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work in you, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” I came to realize that patience isn’t something you have or don’t have. It’s something that should have you. Patience isn’t something you need more of. It’s something you ‘let’.”
But it’s hard to stay the course when you don’t see immediate results, isn’t it? As a matter of fact, I believe that in some situations, without a spiritual and eternal perspective it’s down right impossible. The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote, “But without faith it is impossible … you have to believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” He also wrote of the saints that have gone before us, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things, declare plainly that they seek a homeland.”
When I shared with Tom that I’d come to realize that for some promises and rewards, we have to be willing to wait a life time. Tom just sighed, raised his eyebrows and shook his head in agreement.
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9) “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:24)
Loren Hardin is a social worker with Southern Ohio Medical Center-Hospice, and can be reached at 740-356-2525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can order Loren’s new book, “Straight Paths,” online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.