December 23, 2006

But it doesn't feel like mercy. . .

My husband and I both feel as if we have been beaten up. While we were calm all week and able to do what needed to be done, now that the crisis has softened the emotional stress of it seems as a sledge hammer to our bodies.

The suicide attempt was a huge blow. I spent most of every day at the hospital with her, with family. I heard and saw others in trauma in the ER that first day (and far too much blood). I was on the phone with my family, back and forth from room to foyer where cell phones were allowed, up and down, talking with distraught family, relaying messages, trying to reassure.

When not there, the tasks at home were taxing. We’d ordered a change in our phone service and it happened on day three. For those next few days, service was iffy on our phones, we had no Internet, and still have no in-coming fax service. My husband had to take his desk apart to move it and fix a short-circuit in the phone-jack in the wall behind. Thank God for one unusual blessing; our Christmas shopping was done and wrapped a couple days before the hammer hit.

This morning I think about the on-going task of having our adult granddaughter here. She must take charge of her own life. Where are my boundaries? This is my house, and while I’m not one of those “don’t sit on that” people, she watches more television than is good for anyone’s mental health. She is a vegetarian, which is fine, but she skips meals and her diet is unbalanced. Do I say anything? Insist on changes? Hide all the knives? Tell her what to do?

I try to think of how I would deal with this if she was a paying border. That doesn’t work. I can’t spoil her as grandparents tend to do with their grandchildren either. But I cannot be so detached from her life that I don’t notice or care what she does with herself.

This is not easy! She is my responsibility in some ways, but not others. Every minute of every day requires decisions. Does she need a gran, a friend, a detached ear, a MYOB attitude, or is God asking me to minister to her in some way?

The reading today rang bells for the last category. 2 Corinthians 4 starts out with, “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.”

Having a young, unbelieving, depressed and suicidal woman in my home is a ministry and a mercy. Because God has been merciful to me, I am able to carry on rather than give up.

John MacArthur’s commentary says, “God’s mercy is His withholding of the judgment that sinners deserve, temporarily in the case of the unsaved to give opportunity for repentance and faith, and permanently in the case of the redeemed. In this context God’s mercy means that instead of condemning Paul because he was a “blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor” (1 Tim. 1:13), God showed him mercy by “putting [him] into service” (1 Tim. 1:12).

Like Paul who “renounced the hidden things of shame,” I must also commend myself to this young woman’s conscience, recognizing that the gospel is veiled to her because the god of this age has blinded her mind. I must continue, as this passage says, to preach (using words when necessary) Christ Jesus the Lord, and consider myself a bondservant for His sake.

Only God can command “light to shine out of darkness” and shine light in her heart and mine. Only God can show me what to do and say (or not) and open her heart to know “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

The Bible tells me that I have this treasure in an earthen vessel “that the excellence of the power may be of God” and not of me. Paul was “hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” He demonstrated in his body “the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested” knowing that death to all things selfish and unimportant produced life in those to whom he ministered.

May it be so, may it be so.

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