For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
“How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy he gives”
Go the lines from the Gaither song “Because He Lives” The sweetness of holding a baby is nowhere seen more powerfully than in a nursing home. Sadly there are few people willing to bring their babies in so the staff provides lifelike dolls for the residents to cradle. They gently rock their baby and their faces light up with smiles. It is almost as if God has built into us a response of hope for the future every time we see a tiny baby.
But our hope for the future is not based on babies, or baby dolls. True eternal hoe is based on the promise of God’s word. Whether sitting in a nursing facility or standing in a cap and gown waiting to graduate from high school our future hope is always in the love of God. His plans for us are to give us hope. His plans for our future are always for our good. We can trust Him to our final breathe here on earth, knowing that in a moment we will be breathing in our first breathe of heaven!
But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ 1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV
For residents in a nursing home life can sometimes feel like a place of total defeat. You can see it in the stooped shoulders or hear it in the angry reactions to small annoyances. In our own home as we are passing through my wife’s battle with cancer I am finding myself facing the same struggles. I feel like a rowboat caught in the tidal wave of serious illness and family turmoil. That is exactly the situation which the disciples faced as the accompanied Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus had asked them to pray with him for one hour; but the Bible tells us that
And when He rose from prayer He came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow. Luke 22:45
They were overcome by sorrow, but not their master. Jesus had prayed till His sweat fell like drops of blood. Jesus had continued interceding even when they felt defeated. In the same way He is interceding in heaven for you and I today. Neither our sorrow nor our despair will cause Him to abandon us. He will come and awaken us. He will carry our burdens. He chose in that dark garden to pay the full price for our sin to give us hope. It is that hope which lies behind the cry:
O Grave where is your victory? Death where is your sting? 1 Corinthians 15:55
Life in a nursing home is like living in a challenging neighborhood. Sometimes neighbors named depression, frustration or pain keep us up all night or make the days seem long and tiresome. But no matter where we live God gives hope and strength when we place our hope in Him. These 31 Days of Hope are written to lift you up and help you to refocus on the unfailing love of God. This is day three in our series. b If you have a family member or loved one in long term care then pass today’s reading on like a small bouquet to brighten their day. God bless you with His Hope!
Day 3 Invisible Unshakable Hope
Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope Psalm 119:49 ESV
A few years ago I became quick upset with my doctor after going through some minor surgery. On the appointed day of the procedure the nurse came in, the anesthesiologist put me under but I never saw the doctor. I was incensed that he would take my money, do his work and then leave without talking to me! But what my mind had told me was not the truth. My wife assured me that the doctor had come in and spoken with both of us after the operation. My problem was that I was still so affected by the anesthesia that my memory was playing tricks on me! Sometimes it works in that same way when we have gone through a spiritual crisis. But our heavenly doctor has not forgotten us. The one who has brought us through the operation will be with us in the recovery room! Our God is the invisible unshakable Hope that carries us through every storm!
Nursing home ministry is not just something nice or a little extra side line for the church to investigate. Nursing home ministry is in fact an expression of the very heart of the Jesus Christ. In Matthew 25 Jesus talks about how we treat him in places like prisons, sick beds, orphanages and other places of abandonment and suffering. When we as His church consistently remember the importance of a true commitment to include such places in our outreach we may not get much notice in this world; but we will make the headlines in heaven! If we choose to allocate our church budget and sacrificially give of our time in order to value those whom Jesus values we will never regret it in eternity. Here in this small book is the compilation of more than 25 years of experience given as a guide, an encouragement and a call to action for those who are willing to hear.
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me Matthew 25:38-40
Nursing Home Ministry – The Heart of Jesus Christ