Victoria’s wheelchair made her a prisoner in her home for fifty years. Until a ramp was added to her church building, she stayed home, even on Sundays. There were no vans with lifts, or even electric wheelchairs back then, and most of the world was inaccessible to her. Her arms were strong. She pushed herself forward and backward, doing 3 or 4 point turns in her modest kitchen, moving from sink to counter to stove, reaching up to stir, then carefully lowering boiling pots of food to the kitchen table. She was a hero.
As her granddaughter, I could write volumes about the intricacies of compensations that she made every day. Only a few family members knew her intimately enough to appreciate the extent of her physical limitations. Still, she was one of the most giving and creative people I have ever known.
Only a few family members knew her intimately enough to appreciate the extent of her physical limitations.
That is why I marvel at my grandmother, Victoria. She did so much in what seemed like a vacuum. After all of their children moved away, when my grandfather worked, she was home alone. In the middle of nowhere, with no neighbors. No one saw all that she did. But it did not seem to matter to her. She hummed constantly and contentedly, to the radio, or to silence. She kept close watch over the birds in her yard, as seen through the one window that overlooked the garden in the back. Otherwise, she was alone. But she knew she wasn’t.
How is it that Victoria could find unhurried peace and purpose from season to season in her limited world? She was remarkably unassuming and exuded grace and acceptance: of her circumstances, deprivations and plight. Why was her posture confident, chin lifted and shoulders back, a portrait of dignified beauty, even in her wheelchair? It is because her importance to God was communicated to her by her mere survival.
Her importance to God was communicated to her by her mere survival.
So many of us struggle with our significance. Scripture is generous with reassurance of our importance to God. John 3:16 comes quickly to mind; “for God so loved the world.” We are loved extravagantly. We know this. But when we suffer alone, or feel unappreciated, or taken for granted, we may feel uncared for. But we are not.
We have become a very public society. An hour on social media will tell us things about dozens of people that would have been previously considered insider information. Jesus, who had a public ministry, was actually a proponent of secrecy.
Jesus, who had an public ministry, was actually a proponent of secrecy.
In verse 6, He then tells us, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
How about unseen sacrifices, or years of caring for an angry elderly parent, or countless tears at night, absorbed by your pillow, after days of relational conflict, all done in secret? Psalm 56:8 reassures us;
“You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.”
He has kept track of our every sorrow and tear.
You are never, never alone. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” We may sometimes struggle because our tasks have seemed to be in vain in the absence of appreciation and recognition. Over time, it may seem that there may be no one “on earth” who truly cares. Praise God, that is not the case. We can take heart. God knows.
For Carol and Loretta