Happy New Year Dear Friends!!!
Here we go…another year of excitement and surprise is barreling around the corner. Last year certainly was exciting and surprising. From the homeless shelter to the White House, people all over the world have been affected by the events that 2020 imposed on the routines of our lives. As we have noted several times in our newsletters over the past year, the long-term care arena has been deeply affected by the circumstances forced upon them by this pandemic. And of course, nursing home ministry has been greatly restricted by the need to insulate our elderly and infirm from life-threatening infections.
Many are anxious to get back to “business as usual,” but the shock of the last year will not be so easily forgotten. Businesses, legislatures, the medical profession and society at large will feel pressured to make lasting adjustments. The future won’t be a mirror reflection of the past. For certain, we will be inundated with claims that things are getting back to normal. We will see about that. Things may look the same, but they will probably be different with closer inspection.
One over-arching question is: How long before our Master allows the next tidal wave of strange and difficult circumstances to crowd the world into another round of rough adjustments, troublesome inconveniences…and unexpected suffering.
Rather than yearn so much for things to get back to normal, maybe we might consider praying for the Lord to prepare us for what’s in store for 2021. This would be a great lesson for all of us to take away from 2020. Jesus Messiah said that “in this world you will have tribulation,” no ifs, ands, or buts about it. NO. WAIT. There is a “but” – “…but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33b)
How do we get our heads around this idea that in the face of all our troubles, we can be of good cheer because Jesus overcame the world? That’s great for Jesus, but what about us with our face masks, our social distancing, our isolation, our political uncertainties and our fears?
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:4-5
Abiding in Jesus cannot be theoretical, or religious, or faked. Abiding is to keep our focus on our Overcomer. Abiding is intentionally setting out to dwell in fellowship with God, to live under the shadow of His wing (Psalm 91:1). Abiding will probably inspire a lot of honest soul searching and frequent repentance. Abiding in Jesus is in the arena of our heart, where Christ abides with us. And abiding with Him in our heart, in our spirit, will show in our attitudes, our motives, our words and our deeds – a fountain of living water flowing out of our innermost being! (John 7:37-39)
And what of nursing home residents? Just as living moment by moment in fellowship with Christ is the answer to our sorrows and pain, it is the same for them. In light of current circumstances, we pray for nursing home ministers everywhere be gifted by God with creative ways to strengthen the often frail faith of the care center population. But just mouthing the words will ring hollow unless our words are overflowing with the good cheer and faith and hope and love that gushes out of our own communion with our heavenly Father! To be of any eternal use to the suffering world around us, including the huge trials endured in nursing homes, our job is to grow closer and closer to Jesus, letting Him be our example AND our guide. Take advantage of your solitude and “practice” abiding in Jesus Christ. Maybe one of the first things we need to discuss with Him is patience. Amen.
We close this note with a sincere expression of gratitude to all of you who have supported us so faithfully with your prayers and your donations over this past year. Thanks so much to each one of you! May God richly bless you for your love.