Resource Scripture Passages: 1 Peter 1:6-8; James 1:2-4; Hebrews 12:1-12
Joanna struggles with Scripture’s words as she cares for her mother who lives with gradually increasing signs of dementia. Joanna cites the Apostle Peter, “…now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials….” (I Peter 1:6). Shrugging shoulders suggest Joanna’s sadness conflicts with her faith. She speaks while looking at the floor. Her voice trembles, describing her pain in technical sounding words.
She said, “You know (deep sigh and pause), medical achievements adorn much of the world. Disease prevention and remedies for many afflictions have been profoundly lessened if not eliminated. None of the advances, though they are numerous, appear to be helping my Mom.”
Today’s three passages from the Apostles James, Peter and the unknown writer of the New Testament letter we call Hebrews encourage deep questions. Joanna extends her faith with a willingness to ask such questions.
Joanna’s mother, now in her eighty-second year, has a form of dementia not uncommon in her age group. Short term memory loss is the most obvious indicator. Confusion accompanied by anger is an unwelcome guest. Joanna’s faith comes to this decision:trust.
A casual reading of Peter’s words at first alarmed Joanna. Perhaps you have already read the passage or another of today’s Scripture portions.
Joanna wonders if “…all kinds of trials…,” include her mother’s diminishing brain function. She saw the test result which graphically showed areas of the brain as inactive.
Fortunately, a careful friend reminded her Peter’s words were written to disciples being persecuted for the Faith. They are not necessarily about her mother’s memory loss. Joanna asks her friend, “I see that, now that you’ve explained it; but what about the words in James 1?”
She quotes the troubling passage. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).
Joanna speaks with underlying anger, “It’s the pure joywords which bother me. Am I supposed to be joyful for my mother because some days she can’t remember my name and that my Dad died five years ago?”
Her friend replied, “I don’t know everything. I do understand the part that says, your faith is being proven and is producing perseverance. Faith is not easy or uncomplicated. I believe it all focuses on trust. Trusting God means we’ve decided that ultimately Jesus is Who He said He is, and we trust Him.”
Her friend continued, “I don’t get all the teachings in these passages and some parts of the Bible are really hard to understand. So, to me I have to decide: who do I trust? To me that’s what faith has become.”
Life Application Questions
- Do you agree with Joanna’s friend that faith focuses on trust?
- Are there specific ways you could support a person like Joanna who is suffering with grief?