The angel of God came back, shook him awake again, and said, “Get up and eat some more—you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.” He got up, ate and drank his fill, and set out. Nourished by that meal, he walked forty days and nights, all the way to the mountain of God, to Horeb.
1 Kings 19:7-9 (The Message)
This particular story best describes where I am this morning. “It just so happened” (yeah, right!) that I read David’s Kitz’s blog A Dark Psalm For Dark Times. I am on one of, if not the most difficult journey, in my life; even more so than my divorce. At least during that dark period I had hope, though ever so small, that God would heal and restore me. But today, honestly, I see no such hope, which is probably why it “just so happened” that I read David’s morning edition.
Today I and my son, Matthew, are going to look at some “nursing homes” for my Mother. At 89 she is in that prison known as dementia. In the last 2 weeks her mind has become in the words of Forrest Gump, “a gazillion times” worse. Dad, who will be 92 next month, has been doing his very best to take care of his wife of 73 years. And now it has taken its toll on him. Yesterday as he and I discussed what we would do today, what he said literally broke my heart: “Son, I would rather take her to the cemetery rather than do this. But it has to be done.” There were tears in his eyes and his voice quivered. He was broken and in a prison, too.
As a pastor, I am fortunate enough to share life with those entrusted to my care. Shared meals, baptisms, weddings and just enjoying the extraordinary joys of the ordinary life are a part of this life as a pastor. I also share in times of heartache: sickness, loss of jobs, the prodigal child, the prodigal spouse, the prodigal parent, and yes, the journey with them of watching losing a loved one long before they die. My heart has always broken for those families living through this nightmare called dementia.
And now, my own nightmare intensifies. As I watched others go through this nightmare, I became angry with God. “Why are you allowing this to continue? For heaven’s sake, please take them home!” Honestly, I do not understand why He didn’t and thus, the source of my frustration (I know I did a blog/sermon on frustration). And at the risk of sounding to some as being callous and uncaring, I’m “praying without ceasing” that God will take my Mother home instead of us taking her to a nursing home. Dad’s right; a journey to the cemetery would be much easier. This is frustrating!
So what do I do? Can I do? Psalm 88:18 describes where I am perfectly: “You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend.” I looked up this Psalm and found out that the last word in the original Hebrew is DARKNESS. Unlike other Psalms of despair that end with “hope”, this one ends in DARKNESS.
Maybe David Kitz is correct in pointing out this song written by someone known as Heman the Ezrahite. I would like to think The Spirit inspired David to write this blog just for me; even further back, that He inspired Heman the Ezrahite to write it just for me in 2018. And right now I am holding on, barely but holding on, to the middle, exactly the middle of this Psalm. It’s verse 9: “Each day I beg for your help, O Lord; I lift my hands to you for mercy.” Maybe there is something prophetic that in the exact middle of darkness, Heman begs and cries out to God. And so do I….so do I… Prayers greatly appreciated…