Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Hope in a vale of tears

I just got off the phone with my dad. Today was a rough day for him and my mom. He never knows what the dementia may bring, but the stress ramps up when my mom won't comply with the care that is necessary and good for her. Because of the disease, she will question and argue, and because of the disease, trying to reason with her is futile. This is hard for my dad when all he wants to do is help his wife whom he loves. I encouraged him as best as I could, and we prayed together on the phone.

When I hung up, then I could release the tears I had been holding inside. It's no wonder the Heidelberg Catechism refers to this life as a vale of tears. It's not just family circumstances either. Brothers and sisters in my little local church are weathering heavy trials. If you broaden the circle, there probably isn't a person on earth whose life has not been touched by suffering even if they are not experiencing it at the present moment. It would be easy to throw in the towel because reality is too much to bear. But that's not the whole the story.

26. Q. What dost thou believe when thou sayest: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth?

A. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that in them is, who likewise upholds and governs the same by His eternal counsel and providence, is for the sake of Christ His Son my God and my Father; in whom I so trust, as to have no doubt that He will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul; and further, that whatever evil He sends upon me in this vale of tears He will turn to my good; for He is able to do it, being Almighty God, and willing also, being a faithful Father.

My pastor preached on this Q&A from the Heidelberg drawing from Matthew 6:25-34. In this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his hearers to not be anxious because our Heavenly Father knows what we need. If he takes care of the birds and the grass of the field, will he not take care of us? Even as I typed out that previous sentence, it's easier said than done when anxiety attacks or dementia strikes, but it then becomes a time for "I believe! Help my unbelief!" 

When circumstances are overwhelming, walking by sight is next to impossible because the way seems so foggy, but that's where faith comes in. It's not faith in the strength of my faith or even how well I can recall God's promises. It is the hand that reaches out and clings desperately to the One who is really holding on to me and not letting me fall. He knows I am dust because he made me. And no matter how much the prosperity gospel may distort this truth, my Father loves me. I only have to look at the cross if I wanted further proof, and oh how I need reminding of this fact!

I don't know what your vale looks like at the moment. Mine seems hard to see at times because of the tears, but even though I may doubt and forget, God's care doesn't depend on my memory. I have a Father who will provide all things necessary for body and soul. Whatever trial he sends, he will turn to my good, the good of my family, and the good of my brothers and sisters. He is Almighty God. He is a faithful Father, and he is my hope in this vale of tears.


  1. Thank you!! Such excellent words of wisdom that bring refreshment to my weariness this evening!!

  2. Praying for peace and strength for your family. I am actually dealing with something very similar - my mom, who has dementia, is living with us while we find nursing home care for her. Some days I feel like I can't bear another argument or answer the same question for the tenth time. I loved your sentence, "He knows I am dust because he made me." Beautiful and true.