It’s been a rough few weeks. I took a trip to visit my elderly parents after Dad asked me to come and get involved in their finances and bill paying. Sixteen months ago I urged them to consider moving out of my childhood home as I witnessed their decline. They refused to consider that option, or sign any paperwork that would give me legal rights.
I was frustrated, angry and sad. The Lord worked in me then to forgive them and continue to love them. I was determined to honor them and be kind, even though they rebuffed my efforts to help.
A few weeks ago, their condition reached a crisis point. My dad had a heart attack and when I called him, he asked me to come. I wasn’t prepared for how desperate their situation had become and was profoundly grieved by what I saw. My brother, who lives nearby, had stayed with mom while dad was in the hospital and was making sure that they had food and medicines. But the house! Only a daughter who grew up there would realize how badly things had deteriorated. My mother, once an immaculate housekeeper, is no longer aware that she’s washing dishes without soap. She has no idea how to do laundry and they don’t even have a working vacuum cleaner. Several times she forgot who I was.
I spent a week learning their finances, paying bills, scrubbing the house and throwing food away – several big trash bags’ worth. On top of that, dad was still weak and not recovering as well as I would have hoped. Phone calls and appointments needed to be made and kept track of. My brother used vacation time when dad was in the hospital and then I stayed there for a week. But I live 2,000 miles away and had to go home. What would happen that next week?
The Lord was gracious to us and my brother found a home care aide with a flexible schedule and a sweet disposition. I was so relieved, and my parents seem to like her. They can easily afford to pay someone to help them.
But then this week my dad developed pneumonia and refused to be hospitalized. I don’t know if he’ll survive another week, another month, or another year.
So we believe it’s now critically important to get them moved into a senior care facility. Dad has finally agreed to this. But the place we would prefer has a waiting list. How long will the wait be? And what if Dad passes before Mom can be settled somewhere? She doesn’t understand what is happening and can become agitated. And I still don’t have power of attorney, what if the legal situation becomes a mess? There’s another family member who could cause serious problems. And how will we empty and sell a run-down house that has five decades’ worth of stuff in it?
These are the things I’m worried about. And they are legitimate concerns, right? But Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:34:
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
The day I came home I was getting caught up on our women’s Bible study of Habbakuk. And the Lord spoke to me through this short, obscure Old Testament book.
Habbakuk, too, was distressed by the circumstances he was in. When he cried out to God, the response was also distressing. God told him He would use the Babylonians to defeat and punish the nation of Judah. Habbakuk cried out that it wasn’t fair! The Babylonians were even more wicked! This isn’t what I had in mind, God!
(My thoughts were similar – it’s not fair that we have to figure out this mess, I tried a year and a half ago to prevent this! Why won’t Dad listen?)
And the Lord reassures Habbakuk that He is in control and has a plan. Even if it seems to be taking too long for my comfort, God is on His throne and sovereign over all things.
If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.Habbakuk 2:3b
But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.Habbakuk 2:20
And then, we come to the heart of the matter: “The righteous shall live by his faith.” (Hab. 2:4b) Will I have faith and trust God in this circumstance? Will I believe that He loves me and my parents and will provide for their needs?
Will I Believe?
Habbakuk asked questions and argued with God and complained. But in the end, he submitted to God’s perfect and good plan. He trusted that God’s ways are best, even though he couldn’t see any good or victory right then.
His statement of trust and surrender is recorded in Habakkuk 3:17-19:
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.
From this, I wrote in my bible study book:
Lord, even if my dad passes before we can get them settled somewhere and
even if there are legal problems and
even if this situation becomes more difficult,
I will still trust you and believe that You are good and will provide for us. I will continue to worship and praise You. Please give me strength and help me to react well, whatever happens.
Do you have difficult circumstances in which you’re struggling to trust God? Are you encouraged by Habbakuk’s prayer?