In my last blog post, I shared how God had used me to share His word with a colleague who was going through a difficult time. This week, I wanted to share how God used a client to remind me of His power and everlasting love. In moments of weakness, God used an elderly man to strengthen my faith in Him.
A few weeks ago, I decided to change the name of my caseload, to “my flock”. I know that Jesus is our good shepherd and we are all part of his flock, but I believe I am chosen by Jesus to care for his vulnerable children, until His return. Actually, it is an obligation for all Christians to care for others. In my line of work, policies and legislation can sometimes make this difficult to achieve, however, it is still my duty to care for others in a way which is pleasing to Jesus.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” John 21:15-16 NIV
On a busy duty day, I was told of an elderly man who had COPD. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory (non- reversible) asthma. This disease is characterised by increasing breathlessness. He was my first client with COPD. I did not know much about this illness, but through this man I came to learn how this illness impacted a person’s daily living.
I learnt that he was first given a few months to live. The experts were wrong; only His maker knew his beginning and end date. He was no longer on end of life care and had returned home. He was striving to remain independent, despite his illness. Nonetheless, he needed that extra support due to breathlessness. Instead of allocating the case to another social worker, I was nudged to take the case.
I visited him at his home, a few weeks later. At the door, I was greeted by a Reverend, she was his wife. She greeted me with such a welcoming smile, then escorted me to her prayer room. Her first statement was, “I see that you’re wearing your cross.” I smiled. In that moment, I reflected on how I decided to wear my cross that morning.
Initially, I had put on my cross and then decided to take it off as it didn’t match my turtleneck outfit. The moment I took off my cross, I was nudged by the Holy Spirit to wear it. No, it wasn’t a fashion statement, it was much more than that. I thanked the Holy Spirit for speaking to me that morning. It was the cross that led to a conversation of God’s love for us.
A New purpose
My client was sitting in his armchair when I approached him. With his oxygen tank up and running, he greeted me with a huge grin. The man who was given a few months to live, seemed more alive than I felt at the time. He was little in stature, but quite tall in my sight. His face reflected his heart and the full life he lived.
He shared his life with me as an elderly Christian. He said, “When I was told my days were numbered, I wondered what my purpose would be. Now I know my purpose. While I sit in this chair, I spread the word of God. I share the message of Christ with my carers, nurses or anyone who comes to me.” In that moment, I saw the peace that came with accepting Jesus. He was accepting of his death, but even greater, he had found a new purpose in a difficult situation.
God always speaks through someone
As if he knew I was not having the best of week. He said, “The amount of ‘God incidences’ I’ve had in my life, I knew it had to be God. The way things were aligned for me, only God can do this. The world isn’t like this.” He had lived his life honouring God through music; God had given him a musical talent from the age of seven. He then played an organ for the church for most of his life, there he met his wife who was a singer turned Reverend. He said, “it was all God’s doing, it had nothing to do with me.”
I needed to hear those words. Here was a man in his late 90s sharing with me how God had favoured him in a harsh world. How God was with him from the beginning and he was convinced that God will be with him to the very end.
In most of my writings, I tend to share how God used me to bring joy to others. On that day, He used a man who was physically suffering to solidify my faith in Him. My client reminded me of Paul, a man in the Bible who had a physical disability, “thorn in the flesh”, yet God used him in his suffering.
Lessons learnt from this encounter
1. We all have a purpose, despite our circumstances/ diagnosis or our positions. God will give us the power to fulfill His purpose.
But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. Exodus 9:16 NIV
2. When we honour God with our lives, he rewards us to the very end.
But I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. Jeremiah 7:23 NIV
3. We should not fear death.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 NIV
4. Blessed are those who have died in Christ 🙂
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” Revelation 14:13 NIV
5. Be willing to listen and spend time with those who may not be your usual group of people. There is much to be learnt from those who are different, especially the elderly.
Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.
Proverbs 16:31 NIV
6. God does not use us because of how we look. God searches our heart and seeks a heart which longs for him.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV
7. We sometimes suffer (from an illness or through trials) so we can bring hope or comfort to those who are also suffering.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV
Today, I want to pray for those who are suffering from an illness or terminal diagnosis. I pray that in your time of suffering, you can use your story to bring comfort to those who are also going through a difficult time. May God give you the strength to see you through the very end. May God’s peace be with you.
I pray that you and I will learn to appreciate those who are different. May we look beyond a person’s physical appearance and look within their hearts.
The next time you see an elderly person, I pray that you find it in your heart to greet them with a smile. You never know, you might just be smiling at an angel 🙂
God bless you today and always.