My great-grandmother was a three-time widow, who appeared to be very unhappy towards the end of her life. As I continued my genealogical research, my heart went out to her. How neglected and unloved she must have felt by God. She was blessed to find a new husband three times, only to find herself left alone in the end. Existing day after day, and though fit, caring for an elderly sister, and herself being elderly and alone.
As I thought back on the few times I remember being in her presence, I can see now what part of the reason could have been why she appeared cold and stand-offish. In fact, the last time I saw her, she looked simply dejected and miserable. She was born in the late 19th century, and married my grandfather's father in her 20's. By the time she was 61, he had died, she had married again and her 2nd husband died. A few years after that, and sometime between when I was born and my first memory of her, she had married her 3rd husband, who died before I remember him. Though I'd heard about 1 or 2 of her marriages, I'd only known her as a single woman.
As my heart ached for her, I thought about how it is these types of turns in life that cause many to feel that God does not care, that he does not love them. Some say in their hearts, "Afterall, why would he bless me with husbands who die and leave me? And here I am alone in the end. In the end, I have been left with years of loneliness, drudgery and boredom. No one to help me in my declining years, and I have my single sister to care for. How cruel and unfair life has been to me!"
I don't know my great-grandmother's thoughts during that time. These are my general guesses on how anyone may have felt. From her demeanor when I knew her, it did not appear that she was happy, upbeat and optimistic. Not until I was well into my adult years, in fact, fairly recently, did I come to understand the course of her marriages, and how it must have been for her to endure it.
Sometimes life just beats us down, and we become tired, period. But we should start early claiming all that the Bible says that God feels for us, and all that he wants us to think and have. Why? Because his love and promises are in spite of life's twists and turns. Some have more sorrow and suffering than others. Things never seem to work out for many, and they can't catch their breath before another crisis happens. It doesn't just rain, it pours for so many Christians, and often the torrent of trials don't seem to let up. Does all of this negate God's love for each individual? No! Does it mean that he has forgotten us? No! Does that mean that his Bible is worthless? No!
There are going to continue to be problems, sorrows, disappointments and devastation in this world, until it is over for all of us, living and dead. We may have dreams fulfilled, and we may have happiness at every turn, and we may not. None of us knows as we live, what will happen. We do know that his Word is always true, dependable and everlasting. We know that there is always an answer in Christ, and that we can always ask and receive, seek and find, knock and the door will be opened for us by God.
It is good to start early, and no time is too late, determining in our hearts and minds what the end of our lives will be, no matter when that will come. No matter what our situations or conditions, we can determine that the joy of the Lord will be our strength as we live and age. We can live out the conviction that he will keep us in perfect peace because our minds will be continually on him.
We can grab hold to and confess joy unspeakable, because our hope is for something more than what we are living. We can confess that we live in the peace that surpasses all understanding, because we know that God said he loves us no matter what. He has our best interests at heart, though all looks like disaster. It is not easy, but our tending to these things will help us to present different personalities and attitudes than the ones displayed by those who are consumed by the sorrows of life's downturns.
My heart truly breaks for those who have successive sorrows in life. We don't know why some have to endure these types of things, and others do not. Anyone who comes to the altar of God, though, has something to bring, however different than the other. I don't know what my great-grandmother thoughts were about her life's course. I do know that had she been immersed and focused on God's love and glory, she would have been more able to reach out to others, and even alter some parts of the course of her life.
Some things we can never change, but we don't know what we can change unless we have the physical strength, the mental and emotional fortitude, and the spiritual growth to try. I truly believe this. None of us who love the Lord can have the exact, perfect life that we desire here in this fallen world, but we can grow in him everyday. His everlasting love can flow through us and out to others. He even helps us, for moments at a time, to forget our sorrows in favor of helping others with theirs.
I am sorry that the end of my great-grandmother's life was not better. Was it meant to be? Is it what she wanted? I doubt it. By the time I knew her, she was too old and tired to care. I have felt that way sometimes, and I'm not the age she was when I knew her. I am not professing that I can do better than her, because they say we all do the best that we can with the life that we are handed. That's why I say it's never too early to grab this life by the horns. Rather than determining to accept and react to what comes our way, work with God to make changes.
We are either resigned and have given up, or we are resistant to defeat and are always planning for the best, for what we really want, now and towards the end. There is a way to make life more of how we really want it to be, to make whatever changes are necessary to attain that. As we work with God to bring it about, we present a certain face to the world, one of true love, never-ending hope and Godly happiness. We cannot change everything, like the death of my great-grandmother's 3 husbands. The important question is, what can we change that will bless us, and make a difference in the way that we treat others?
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