Years ago Judy and I visited a friend during his last week on earth. His faith in Christ and hope of heaven encouraged all who watched him go home. As his body began to fail him, he referred to it as his “container”. He was in deep pain the day Judy and I were privileged to come to the side of our friend and his bride. We read Scripture, prayed for healing and comfort, and then had to say goodbye. We knew that unless the Lord intervened, we had probably talked with our dear friend for the last time and that the next time we talked to the love of his life, it would be at his memorial service.
Yet, as we were leaving, our friend demonstrated a life-lesson I’ve “lived” myself: He told us that he was going to mow the lawn!
Judy insisted that I intervene. “You can’t let him mow that lawn. Tell him you will do it for him!”
“No,” I told her, “you have no idea how much he needs to mow that lawn. If he collapses dead mowing that lawn, he will be happier than if I did it for him.”
This is one of the primary lessons I learned during my bout with lymphoma. The routine means more to those of us who feel we have been “set aside” and that we are losing our grip on our life. Some of the greatest moments in recovery are those when we suddenly find that we can do something we use to take in stride.
I remember the first day I was able to begin helping Judy around the house after my last battle with this disease. I brought in the trash bins, weeded the front lawn a little, and pulled Judy’s car into the garage from the street!
“YES,” I said to myself, “I’m coming back.”
Do you know someone who is struggling through a life-threatening or life-devastating heartbreak? Ask the Lord to make you sensitive to their need to be useful. Those of us dealing with debilitating diseases or emotional trauma don’t want to be defined by our pain. The encourager should endeavor to encourage the discouraged on their terms. Let them do for themselves and others whenever they want. It may seem small to you, but to them it’s huge…in their journey, there is immeasurable joy in what we consider mundane.
“This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).