The More Necessary Thing

  • March 21, 2013
  • #8059

Aging — it is a fact of life. But when it comes to moving in your elderly relative, what should be our response? Listen to Joni as she shares Biblical answers to this matter.

Hi, this is Joni Eareckson Tada with a grandmotherly lesson.

Welcome to "Joni and Friends" where I must confess that, yes, I learned many lessons from my grandmother. But the most important lesson was taught to me very late in her life. Grandmother Landwehr was German to the core and she lived to be a ripe old age — so old, in fact, that as a teenager I wondered why God allowed her to linger in so much hardship and suffering. My grandmother suffered several strokes and had to leave her cherished home on Monastery Avenue on the west side of Baltimore City to come and live with us. It meant that my sister, Jay, had to move out of her bedroom and move in with Kathy and me into a much smaller bedroom. My siblings and I ran errands for Grandmom, picked up her mail, read the newspaper or books to her by bedside, and took on extra chores so that our mother would be free to tend to the rest of the house and any other extra needs my Grandmom had. At first, Jay and Kathy and I did not like this one bit; we did not like the change in routine, the demands on our time — we were teenagers. It was inconvenient. It was not ‘the way we always did things.’ And at first, we dragged our feet over all the extra responsibilities and duties. In time, though, we changed,; and with that change, came not only a much more tender spirit toward Grandmother Landwehr, but a newfound ability to be flexible, to give, to look out for another’s interest before our own — especially since that other person had real needs. Looking back, my grandmother’s extended stay with us in our home really changed our family dynamics … and my sisters and I … suddenly we had to become a lot less self-focused — and that was a lesson that has served me well to this day.

You know, as my Lutheran grandmother would lie in bed upstairs in her house, she probably prayed like the apostle Paul who said in Philippians chapter 1, verse 23. I'm sure she probably looked at her Bible, and prayed, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.” But then, there’s the rest of that verse, for it was far more necessary for us — my sisters and I — that my grandmother remain with us and not go to heaven all too soon. Why? Well, sometimes our suffering is mostly for the benefit of others. That was God's intention. That’s why Grandmom lingered all those many months. It was for our benefit. God was not about to "take my grandmother home" before He had taught me and my sisters how to serve selflessly.

But that begs the question: Was God being utilitarian? Was He only "using" my grandmother's hardship for our benefit? Hardly! Paul explains later in verses 25 and 26, "… I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that [now here it comes] through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me." Isn’t that cool? The lessons about selfless service were for our progress in the faith and, ultimately, for our joy, too, especially as my sisters and I experienced the blessings of helping a family member. But the wonderful thing is God accrued all those good things to my grandmother’s eternal account. God accomplished much in my life through Grandmom and it's all to her credit. The point I'm trying to make? Well, we all need to remember that our suffering can — and does — benefit others, and that is sometimes the more necessary thing. Maybe you have an elderly parent living with you, or you are tending to the needs of your severely disabled child. Well, the lesson of selfless service that you and the rest of your family can learn are priceless. And Grandmother Landwehr would say amen to that!

© Joni and Friends 


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