Faith Like Job: A Portrait
I recently finished reading the Book of Job. The study guide I use summarizes it like this: "Job...does not explain to us the whys and wherefores of suffering, but it does encourage us to yield ourselves to God in our suffering and to look to him for the ability to endure our hardships gracefully."
The other night, I was reminded in a big way of a person I knew who had faith like Job: my mom. (This is a photo of her as a teenager, with her treasured pooch Lindy, named after the aviator.)
As I was going through cards and letters I've saved over many years, I came across a note from my mother, written shortly after she suffered a massive stroke when she was just 63 years old. Miraculously, she lived.
We didn't really have any idea back then, though, how long and rough the road ahead was going to be. Here's what would happen: She went from the hospital to a rehabilitation facility where she spent more than two months and learned to walk with the help of a brace on her leg and a quad cane for balance. She was unable to use her left arm, though (and never did regain any function in it). It was supported in a sling.
Continued therapy at home was difficult for her; the damage to her brain left her unusually afraid of falling. Eventually, the therapist stopped coming and my mom walked less and less over time. She was able to get from the bedroom to the living room via wheelchair for a while; finally, though, she was confined to her bed - and that's how she spent the final ten years of her life.
Though there was a large picture window in the bedroom, she was never able to look outside; the stroke left her eyes extremely sensitive to light. A blackout shade had to be installed.
Her world shrank to those four walls.
For many of those years, cable television wasn't yet available in the area where my folks lived. A handful of channels - that was it. Prior to her illness she loved to read, but it was difficult to hold a book with only one working hand (forget about the newspaper), and because she had to keep the lights dimmed, it was a struggle to see the pages clearly anyway.
She didn't have many visitors; shut-ins tend to be slowly forgotten. That was the "new normal" for my dear mom.
Still, she never complained about what had happened to her.
Only one time early during this long journey did I see her become upset about her situation; she started crying as we talked about my upcoming trip to Hawaii to visit my sister and her family - because she knew that was something she would never be able to do.
Now back to Job...and that letter.
My mother wrote it about a month after her stroke - just after I'd been home from college for Easter weekend to see her. It was especially poignant reading it again so close to the anniversary of the date she got sick (March 1, 1979...seared into my brain), and with the knowledge of everything that would happen during the intervening years.
Here's part of what she said: What I really would be happy with is a trip home. I've been so homesick I don't think I can hold out any longer. I pray every day that God will give me the courage and strength to see this through. It was so good to see you even though it all seems like a dream now.
Reading that broke my heart, because I was aware of what she couldn't know when she wrote it: she'd never regain complete mobility, and would ultimately be confined to her bed for years.
At the same time, I was reminded of the overwhelming sense of admiration I have for her: my mother would handle a terrible situation with unwavering grace and courage. Like Job, she yielded herself to God in her suffering, and looked to Him for the ability to endure her hardship gracefully.
She was a resilient, talented, kind and compassionate woman before she suffered her stroke. Afterward, I saw another even more remarkable side of her. Faith like Job: I witnessed it in Clarice Metschke. Maybe you know someone like this, too.
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