Hope fills the afflicted soul with such inward joy and consolation, that it can laugh while tears are in the eye, sigh and sing all in a breath; it is called "The rejoicing of hope.”
Over the years since becoming a follower of Christ, my thoughts have often turned toward lessons I learned while I was in college. The ones that impacted me the most were not learned in the university classroom. They were lessons lived out by the people at the nursing home where I worked while I was in school.
There are two people whose names and faces have remained with me throughout the years: a widow named Rose, and a married man named James. They lived kind and hopeful lives in the midst of adverse circumstances, navigating turbulent times and inevitable stresses more eloquently than most around them.
Both of them possessed an inward joy that made me want to be near them. They were older than I am now when I met them years ago, so I’m pretty sure that their sojourns on earth have ended, but the effects of their lives on mine bless me still. Theirs were beautiful lives that sing on in my memory.
I love going back to favorite places that I’ve been before. As I write this, I am stowed away in a charming bed and breakfast in one of my best-loved places – Door County, Wisconsin. The first time I visited the peninsula, I was enchanted by its natural beauty, rich history, vibrant arts scene, and the waves of Lake Michigan and Green Bay caressing the shores.
The inn located in the picturesque village of Ephraim is celebrating its 80th anniversary while I’m here. It is as quaint as the county it resides in. It is filled with antiques and treasures from days gone by. Exquisite linens and textiles adorning the windows invite you to stay and gaze. There are bookcases brimming with books that tell the stories of many who have navigated land and sea here since the county’s creation in 1851.
It is such a lovely place to tuck in for a night, or a string of nights, when opportunity allows.
Getting tucked in at night was not an experience of mine as a child, but I was delighted to discover it in adulthood. At the nursing home, part of my job was helping people get settled in for the night. Upon arrival for my evening shift, my heart gladdened whenever I saw I was assigned to Rose during my nightly rounds.
Her body ached with arthritis, yet she walked the hallways all day long. At the end of the day her ankles were swollen and her feet ached from having been on them for the better portion of the day.
I asked her why she didn’t stay off of her feet to prevent the swelling and aching. I remember her simple reply: she feared if she stopped walking, she’d never walk again. My heart was endeared to hers from that moment on, and I was delighted every time I was able to tuck her in after giving her a foot and ankle massage at the end of the day. I can still remember seeing her eyes sparkle as I cared for her. Her gratitude made me want to stay with her as long as I could.
I never once heard a word of complaint come from her lips. I can’t help but wonder if she prayed and asked God to send aid, and it was He whom compelled me to help her in any way that I could.
I pray that I might be as gracious and hopeful as Rose as I navigate the days of life ahead.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.