The other day, I encountered two of God’s special children, each of them over 70 years of age, residing in a skilled nursing facility/nursing home. As a psychologist, my role was to provide a service to them, but that isn’t how it went. They were dealing with significant health issues, one had bone cancer which had resulted in weakness and falls, which probably meant she would never leave the facility; the other was dealing with a below-the-knee amputation which led to an infection that wasn’t healing and would most likely, ultimately, take her life. Both were in pain, isolated from their friends and family, with a bleak, future prognosis that would leave most of us feeling pretty depressed. But both believed that God had a plan to use their circumstances for the benefit of others. Both had, in the short amount of time they had been in the facility, found a way to minister to the needs of others. This day, they were ministering to me.
I have the rare privilege of working with individuals like this on a regular basis. God has managed to bring individuals to me to work with as He has seen fit. Whenever I am about to meet a new patient, I pause to consider what God may have in store. First of all, it helps me to feel confident that something good might actually come out of my being there. Secondly, it reminds me that I need to rely on Him, as He alone knows why their paths have crossed with mine, and what He wants us to do with our time together.
I admit I don’t always know what God has in mind, but I trust Him that He is in control and He knows what He is doing. There are times I can’t imagine that He can really use me in some of these situations. Like these two women. Situations like theirs often challenge me to believe that God has a purpose, that there is anything good that could be done. I wonder why would He allow His people, especially those who have been so faithful, to suffer, and not to even know why? How were they expected to accomplish any good in a place like this? But, these two ladies had no difficulty finding God’s purpose for them. What they were able to do in ministering to others may seem small, but it truly made a difference. The people they were reaching out to, needed someone to care, to give them some attention, to help them experience the love of God.
There were several lessons for me today. First of all, I need to continue to let God direct my life and lead me according to His plan (“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”—Prov. 19:21). I almost assigned one of these women to a colleague of mine. Secondly, I need to continue to trust that not only does God have a plan of what He wants to accomplish, but He has been working on accomplishing it long before I ever arrived on the scene. Third, I need to see how God can use even little old ladies whose lives are full of misery, bodies filled with pain, in poor health with no hope for recovery, to accomplish His purpose. I was reminded of the following verse:
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work (II Cor. 9:8).”
Finally, I need to remember it isn’t always about what I can do for others. It may be about God trying to get through to me.
*Phillip Foster is Christian psychologist working with pastors and their flock to equip them for doing good works. He taught at Lincoln Christian University for 11 years prior to going back into the field to work directly with people. He does therapy, mentoring, and spiritual life direction. Check out his blog at blog at http://equipt2lead.blogspot.com.