I have a string trimmer to tidy up my lawn.  It taunts me!  When it was new, it was ridiculously stingy in feeding out the line.  Frequently the line would break off so that I had to manually take the trimmer apart and pull out more.

Recently it has felt the need to atone for its sins.  It now feeds out the line with insane generosity – 3 times more than what I need.  Now it gets all tangled and I must frequently stop and stuff it all back in.   

When I get to heaven, I may need to apologize for the things I have said about person who engineered that thing.

Now before you start a GoFundMe page for poor Jim, please know that I have sufficient funds to replace it. I’m just cheap.

But I will say this.  Most every time I trim, I begin with a prayer, “Lord please let this be the day this thing bites the dust so that I’m forced to buy a new one.”


Sadly, I have a few friends that pray that same type of prayer. 

Their bodies are old and frail and their minds sluggish.  Some endure diseases they can’t pronounce.  Most feel useless – a burden to their families. 

In their beds, they lay and pray, “Lord take me home. Take this old body and give me a new one.”  They understand heaven and are frustrated that they must suffer and wait.

Because I am a chaplain, they sometimes ask, “Why does God keep me here?”  I tell them, “It may not be about you.”  

Your kids need an example: 

When you were younger, they watched you and learned how to work hard, and manage their money and how to treat their mate.  By example you taught them how to live well. 

Now they need to be taught how to die well.  They need to understand how your faith sustains you though your body is failing.  It was Paul that said, “Show yourself to be an example of good works in every way.”  (Titus 1:7)

The unconvinced need proof: 

The unsaved in your circle of friends and family need to see the divine spark in your faith.  I think of the thief, who watched Jesus on the cross.  The man began the episode as a mocker but was quickly gripped by the way that Jesus suffered. 

Peter described Jesus in this way, “When he was maligned, he did not answer back; when he suffered, he threatened no retaliation, but committed himself to God who judges justly.”   (1 Peter 2:23.)  The thief was divinely drawn to this person who handled His suffering with such grace.  You have prayed for your family and friends for years.  It may be the way you handle your final days that finally wins them to Jesus.

Through suffering we draw nearer to Jesus: 

Paul coveted something he called “the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.”  He wrote in Philippians 3:10, “My aim is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death.”  

Shared experiences, especially difficult ones, bind people together.  To suffer is to join Jesus’ unique fraternity of faith.  It is there that we find Jesus to be sweeter and more precious than ever before. 

You kids need to grow up: 

A good parent teaches their kids to take responsibility – for their room, their car, their job and so on.  It’s time that they learn to take responsibility for an aging parent.   The Lord was clear on this matter.  1 Timothy 5:8 says, “But if someone does not provide for his own, especially his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”   It’s true.  As we age, we certainly do become burdens – but burdens that God expects our children to shoulder.

BUT are you useless?  Far from it!  God is using you and your circumstances to accomplish rich things in the lives of others. 

“Why is God keeping you around?”  It’s not about you.  So, trust Him as you have in the past and endure with patience and grace until He calls you home.  

A PRAYER: Lord help me to suffer with grace and use me to extend grace to others who suffer.

Scripture references are from the NET Bible ®