October 4, 2019

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Life’s setbacks should remind us eternal life awaits us

Patti LambRecently, some special people in my life have encountered setbacks with their health. A few friends are being treated and making progress, but treatment leaves them exhausted.

As I typed this column, I received a call from my neighbor, Tom, to inform me that a friend on our street was just diagnosed with cancer. He asked me to join the band of prayer warriors storming heaven. My neighbor who received the diagnosis retired less than a year ago, ready to “relax and travel.”

Others planted in my heart have come to a “new normal,” restricted from what they once could do with ease. My heart feels heavy seeing them in discomfort. My mom is currently undergoing therapy after breaking her hip, and during a recent visit, I could tell that she was in great pain. Although she never complained, I sensed her pain.

Once when I saw her wince, I felt a tear stream involuntarily from the corner of my right eye.

I bent down and told her that I could tell that she’s in pain, and that I hated seeing her like this.

“I’m so sorry you’re going through this, and I promise I’m praying for you and …”

She stopped me, putting her hand in the air and said, “I’m offering it up.”

“I just hate to see you suffer with broken bones on top of other ailments, and …”

She gave me a look, with her wise, bright blue eyes, and I stopped talking.

Then she said something eloquent, and I wish I had a pen to scribble it down properly to do her statement justice.

I can’t say it as gracefully as she said it that Sunday afternoon, but it went something like this: “This is a good reminder that this is our temporary home, and that we shouldn’t get too comfortable here.”

That’s a new thing I’m telling myself when I encounter setbacks and learn of friends’ disappointments. I understand that this isn’t our forever home, but that thought resides more in the back of my mind. Accepting that thought as truth is a good reminder to focus on my spiritual life and my relationship with God.

My mom’s words that day made me stop chasing perfect and accept being OK with “not being OK.”

Our minds will fail. Our bodies will, too. There will be crosses and struggles that seem too much to bear. But those imperfect times can serve as a reminder to focus on what’s above.

Months ago at the funeral of my co-worker’s father, the person delivering the eulogy said, “We miss you, Dad, but we rejoice at this—your ‘Happy Homecoming!’ ”

And I’m reminded of the old saying that we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

St. Paul wrote it beautifully to the Corinthians: “Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor 4:16-18).

C.S. Lewis said it another way, when he wrote, “Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”

When mortal life deals its blows, remember the happy ending for which we were all created—eternity.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

Local site Links: