There was a poem read back in my secondary school days, called “The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay.” It recorded, with humor, the likeness of the human body to the one-horse shay. The similarity, that made for the moral of the story, was that the one-horse shay didn’t just grow old and deteriorate, but that it tended to break down in every part, all at once.
As in “if it isn’t one thing, it’s another.” It’s what old folks are talking about when they quote the over used observation, “Well, old age is not for sissies.”
They are referring to the surprising, unexpected discovery they make that while it’s a kind of achievement to grow old, that “ripe old age” carries with it a multitude of aches and pains. Body parts wear out. Some have been overused. And when you come to the days of limited strength in your life show the wear and tear of the years.
I’m finding that in my life. As an old oarsman, I find backaches ever ready to move in and produce a dull ache for some hours. I find knees weakening, neuropathy numbing, arthritis shooting pain into certain joints, and old muscles diminishing. Sometimes, these observations come as signs of something going on interiorly. Things that hide in the dark of vital organs and come to light as diseases that need swift attention.
Praise God for good doctors. Thank heaven for nurses who attend needs like angels. They work together to analyze the body’s needs. They administer medicines – often, in the middle of the night. They make beds. They answer bells. They escort you to the bathroom. Nothing puts them off. Nurses who come from African countries often go right into the bathroom with you. They give understanding, and counsel. They heroically stand on the front lines of pandemics like the current one. Too often they sacrifice their own lives.
These people in white help you fight for your life. They cheer you on. They give courage. Some dare to pray. What a force for good they are.
Then, there are those in our world who become the great healers. The Christian healers. Who remember that Jesus said to those who believe, “the works that I do you shall do, and greater works will you do.” So there rise up the Agnes Sanfords, and the Kuhlmans, and the former priest Frances MacNutt and his wife and their vital healing ministry.
I had, as a young minister, a wonderful week with Agnes Sanford. She encouraged me to pray for sick people’s healing, with the laying on of hands. Strangely, people always welcomed that: How well I remember a former Confirmation student of mine, All-American hockey player, captain of a Stanley Cup winning team, overtaken by cancer, came home to fight the final battle, permitting me to pray for him at his hospital bedside. I held his left hand, nearest me, laid my right hand on his forehead, and prayed.
When I was done, he looked up to me with startled eyes, and especially looked wonderingly at his free hand. “Arthur, someone was holding my other hand while you prayed for me.”
Jesus was there. He knew. And gave his heart to Him anew.
Wonderful are the ways of faith and prayer in those times when our bodies hurt, and know we are under attack. Jesus comes, to stand with us, hold our hand and see us through.
And we deepen, and grow, and are made more ready to be one day, maybe soon, led home to that place of “many mansions” where Jesus promised to take us.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES