When I was born, I only had one living grandparent – my dad’s mother. We were able to visit her a few times a year – mostly holidays – and some additional trips to see her. Unfortunately she passed away when I was eight, so as you can imagine, I don’t remember a whole lot about her. When Selby and I started dating, he of course introduced me to his family. He had grandparents on both sides of his family and step-grandparents still living. They all took me in like another granddaughter which has been so very precious to me. I don’t know if Selby realizes that his grandparents have been in my life longer (16 yrs) than my own. They hold a very special place in my heart. A few years back, Mamaw Selby passed away, and I miss her every time I think of Selby’s dad’s side of the family.
This year we lost Mamaw McGee. She was such a sweet lady with a kind spirit. She fought cancer for many years, and along with battling other health issues, she finally succumbed and went to meet her Savior. I never heard her complain, and I never saw her in distress. I think only those who were very close to her knew when she was in pain because they could see it on her face. Toward the end, questions on everyone’s minds were “Why does she have to suffer so?” or “Why does God not take her Home now?”.
I cannot attempt to sufficiently answer the question of suffering. I do know that this body that we live in has been corrupted by sin – 1 Corinthians 15:42-43″…Sown in corruption…Sown in dishonor…sown in weakness”, but at the resurrection from the dead that we will be able to benefit from if we are in Christ we will be “…raised in incorruption…raised in glory…raised in power” I do know that Mamaw is not suffering now…and that she will one day receive a body that is free of that cancer that plagued her for so many years.
I do believe that we all have a purpose here on earth, and I believe sometimes that purpose can be fulfilled through other people while we are here. Mamaw McGee was a wonderful Christian wife, mother, church member, etc… I put it that way not to downplay what she was in each of these roles, but because of the thing that may stick with me for the rest of my life, what may stick with many others, is what transpired toward the end of her life. Due to an aneurysm and her cancer she was in need of around the clock care and was placed in Catherine’s Place, an assisted living facility in Fayetteville. This facility is very nice with nurses that seem to care a great deal about the patients living there. Mamaw wasn’t able to communicate really well and had trouble with the day-to-day things of life. Burton would go by every day to be with his wife, to check on her and spend time with her. Kathy (Selby’s mom), Greg, and Brenda (Selby’s uncle and aunt) would go by to check on her, feed her meals to her, and spend time with her. They were often her advocates when it came to getting the right medicines since she couldn’t communicate for herself. What I saw was a testament to who she was. Why in the world would her husband and children take such good care, such loving care, of her unless she had been a good wife and mother? The fact that she was at Catherine’s Place was an avenue for this family to share the witness and love of Christ as well. If Mamaw had not been there, then the nurses at the facility would not have seen the love that Burton, Kathy, Greg and Brenda had for her. They would not have seen the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of this special lady pile in to see her even when it was hard to see her. It was hard to see her suffer, but I had to believe that somehow God was not through with her yet. I saw in Kathy what I already knew – she is a loving woman, capable of putting aside her own needs for those she loves. I saw in Greg what I think I knew, but now I know for sure. He is a godly man who when confronted with the hard things in life steps up and takes care of his family, but with such a tender touch. In all of this grounded in me a responsibility for my own parents as they age, and my prayer is that God will give me as much grace as He has given this family.
1 Corithians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
There are many people in my life that I have watched through the years battle sickness or challenges that have been astoundingly unshaken in the midst of their trials. My Dad had colon cancer – had 18 inches of his colon removed and chemotherapy afterward – and except for the recovery time after his surgery, he never skipped a beat. At church we have Judy Gray, Debbie White, Larry Morrell, Ginger Garren, and many others that have had some sort of sickness or challenge, but have refused to say “Woe is me!”, but instead say, “God is with me!” They understand that God sometimes doesn’t lead us around the valley, He holds our hand through it. These trials not only make our hearts stronger, they make our witness stronger also. We can be steadfast because our God is – He is unchanging. We can be immovable because our faith is built on a solid foundation. Because of these things, we can fill every day with the work of the Lord, so much that it overflows into every aspect of our lives, and it will not be in vain. I see who Judy, Larry, Kathy, Greg, and my Dad are, and who Mamaw was. The way they live is a witness to who their Savior is – their labor is not in vain at all – because if I see it, the world sees it also and will wonder how they can be so strong in the face of such adversity. And that is just another opportunity to tell them the who…
I can only pray that if or when I am faced with the trials that these people have faced, I will be able to say to my God that I will walk through anything He leads me through with praise and thanksgiving because I know that He is holding my hand.