The announcements have gone out and in a few months the expectant parents will be having a new baby. Friends and relatives are planning to throw them a shower which will provide appropriate clothing, diapers and toys.
The room at the end of the hall is becoming an adorable nursery with a comfortable and safe bed, pictures on the walls that will become cherished to that child over the years. A rocker in the corner will be the place where books are read, songs sung and tears wiped away.
On the day of her/his birth the parents will be enthralled with their beauty and perfection. They are reminded that this is God’s creation, created in His image. Family and friends flock to greet this new life and can’t wait to hold her and marvel at the tiny fingers and toes. There is no shortage of love flowing. The Lord reminds us in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This new baby can stand on that promise.
Let’s look forward several decades. There is a cry in the room at the end of the hall, but there are no feet hurrying down to see what the problem is or to soothe the distraught resident of that room. Sometime later the light comes on in this unadorned room. No keepsakes can be seen and there are no family pictures to remind one of the wonderful years they spent with people who loved them. Their immediate need is often wordlessly taken care of, the light turned out and the door shut. Are they lonely, scared, in pain or cold? No one knows. Maybe they have lost the ability to communicate a need or, as is the case in many nursing facilities, there isn’t enough staff to deal with all of the problems that arise.
Many of the more seriously ill residents, spend their days in bed or a reclining chair in front of a TV. Lengthy and meaningful interaction does not fit into the demands of the busy staff schedule. That type of contact is the responsibility of family, friends and the church. For many residents, their family and friends have moved or are deceased. This leaves the responsibility of giving hope and showing God’s love up to us.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27.
As I read this verse I do not see it as an option, but a definitive directive.
Between the beautifully appointed baby’s nursery and the simple room in a nursing home much has changed. There are no people to marvel at your inner beauty or to talk about the wonderful memories stored away in the depths of your mind. There are, however, some constants- this person is still created by God, he sees the beauty in them and He loved them so much he died for them.
I encourage each of you to pray for more churches to grasp the importance of the work that is waiting to be done for these frail residents in nursing homes. Volunteers are needed to help re-instill the hope that is in Christ to those whose beliefs have weakened over time, and to bring Christ anew into the lives of those who have not invited Him into their hearts. We are called to carry each other’s burdens, be kind and compassionate to one another. This can be accomplished when we pray, read scripture, sing familiar hymns and just sit and hold the hand of one who is painfully lonely.
Let us pray for God Cares Ministry as they reach out to churches and individuals throughout the country to meet these great needs so prevalent in care homes.
“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” Hebrews 6:10