Shadows and Light

We’ve found ourselves still living in the midst of a global pandemic. Death tolls rise and restrictions remain. And yet, God, too, is steadfast. What is God revealing to you so you know he is Trustworthy, Beautiful, and Good? 

Joel Rohde

Almost two years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, my grandfather was put into a care facility.  Some call the disease “The Long Goodbye” and anyone who has lived with someone who suffers from it knows the brutality that accompanies the sickness.  Not only does Alzheimer’s wreak havoc on the brain, but it causes daily heartbreak to those around the patient.  Though you understand that the person you love has a disease there is little that can soften the blow of a loved one suddenly not able to recognize who you are.

Placing my grandpa in a care facility was a painful decision for my grandmother.  She had taken care of grandpa for as long as she had known him.  They had come through wars together.  They had faced trials of all kinds together.  Now she was being forced to admit that she had met her match in Alzheimer’s.  She had fought long and hard but there was nothing more that could be done.  He needed care she couldn’t give him so there he sat on the other side of a window.  Due to COVID-19 she wasn’t even allowed to be with him.

His health rapidly declined.  He didn’t understand why he had been separated from the only person he still recognized.  Grandma could only watch through a pane of glass as he retreated deeper into his disease.

Shortly after taking up his new residence I found myself sitting in my grandparents’ living-room across from grandma.  She would talk in waves.  One moment she would be recalling memories of our different family gatherings.  The next we’d be sitting together silently.  In one of these beats of rest, as I listened to the clock steadily remind us of what we were up against, I realized that I probably have never sat alone with my grandma before.  I come from a huge family and there was always a brother accompanying me.  At the very least, grandpa would be around.  Now it was just the two of us.

Then my grandma said, “You know, the Bible says that you should rejoice always and be thankful in all circumstances but I’ve never really understood that until now.”

This wasn’t where I expected the conversation to go.  My grandma had just let it slip that she had cried more in the last week than maybe the whole rest of her life combined and now she was talking about being thankful.  Things were pretty dark in her world and she went to thankfulness in all circumstances.

As I drove home I was forced to re-evaluate my own attitude.  If my grandma could find reason to be thankful then why do I spend so much time inwardly complaining?  Right now we find ourselves standing in two very ominous shadows.  COVID-19 is looming and so is an election.  Both of those shadow-casting circumstances are surrounded with misinformation, campaigns, conspiracy theories, and noise; lots and lots of noise.

What an opportunity to live as a people who are brimming with thankfulness.  After all, we are living in the light of a love that casts out shadows.  We are not surprised by these circumstances but instead find that our only comfort in life and in death is that we belong to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ who has fully paid for all of our sins with his precious blood.  All truth, all goodness, and all beauty flows out of the cross and the empty tomb and therefore so does a legacy of thankfulness and hope.

Joel Rohde served as pastor of worship and youth at North Ridge Community Church in Eldridge for 14 years before transitioning to his current role as pastor of worship and discipleship.  Joel has a deep love for the church and Classical Christian Education. He coaches fifth and sixth grade students at Morning Star Academy and is committed to using the sport as a tool to guide students toward a life of discipleship and service in God’s Kingdom.

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