Mother Rose reminds me of the hope of Easter

(Even though I wrote this a few years ago, it is something that I will never forget.)

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with death, pain, injustice and the randomness of it all. Bad people get away with murder while good people die of cancer. In my narrow view of the universe this seems totally unfair. And as long as I live with a “this is all there is” mentality, which I live in often, I will struggle grasping and understanding the madness of this world.

My narrow view of the world was causing me to really struggle with my faith the other day when I was in a convalescent home, visiting one of the most heroic and caring and humble ladies I have ever known. Her name is Rose and at the age of 95, she had had a stroke, broke her hip, and was in failing health. It was hard for me to see her lying there in pain, fighting for life.

She had driven her car until the age of 92. I met her when I was 12, and she is one of the most caring, faithful, God loving, people loving humans that has ever walked this planet. She cared about everyone. She prayed for everyone. She had a permanent smile on her face that glowed brighter every year she grew older. She was the eternal optimist, not because she was in denial, but because she believed that God was always at work, always forgiving, redeeming, patiently loving people towards him. There was not a judgmental bone in her body. She mentored young moms, prayed for warring nations and cared deeply for the poor.

We called her our own Mother Teresa. And in fact the older and wiser she grew, the more she looked like Mother Teresa but it was those blue eyes with that genuine smile that penetrated the hardest hearts, and opened up the possibility of God making a difference in their lives.

Mother Rose is a gift from God that only comes around once in a while. So here is this heroic 95 year old woman, struggling for life in a convalescent bed, and I’m struggling with my faith. “God, this isn’t fair! She has been so faithful. She shouldn’t have to die like this! Where is the dignity in this God? She deserves better!” As I stood around the bed with her family, I struggled silently with these emotions. I was losing perspective of eternity. I was losing sight of life and death and renewal and the spiritual and natural principles of how this universe works. I just didn’t want her to be in any pain. Not Rose. Yes, maybe some selfish, greedy, bastard who used people and cursed at God could die like this, but not Rose!

The next morning, I was driving, thinking about Rose and the unfairness and I was listening to a song by the band U2 called “Yahweh”. In the song there is this simple yet very poignant phrase that says, “Take this soul stranded in some skin and bones, take this soul and make it sing… Yahweh, Yahweh, always pain before a child is born.” Tears began to run down my cheeks, and a smile unvolunteerly appeared on my face. My temporary view of life was just gently refocused to the eternal. I was missing the beauty of the transition.

We are all stranded in skin and bones and because of that, our souls are severely handicapped. Our souls are so much bigger and brighter than our bodies. And here is Rose, the soul filled with love and tenderness and light and forgiveness and hope and God, yet she is trapped in this skin and bones that is failing her now.

Yet, her soul is not fading, it’s becoming brighter and it’s getting closer and closer to being set free to live forever without the pain and the restrictions of these earthy tents that wear and tear and break down over the years. All of a sudden, I began to get excited. Rose’s soul is about ready to be set free. No more pain or frustration. It is about ready to SING! And then the second part of the phrase of the song, “Always pain before a child is born”, came screaming at me. Just like the pain of child birth, which is excruciating and overwhelming, is forgotten when the joy and gift of the child is born, so will Rose’s pain be forgotten when she is birthed into new life for eternity.

The light went on! On this side of eternity we are all involved in child birth. That’s why life can be so painful. Disease, sickness, abuse, injustice, prejudice, disappointment, it fills our life with pain. It’s called birthing pains. But those birthing pains (life) lead us to the other side of eternity where the apostle John says “There will be no more tears, no more pain, no more war, no more injustice, no more sickness, no more disease.”

There is always pain before a child is born.

This is why people who have ever done great things here on earth, always lived with an eternal perspective. They always knew that for something great to be born, that there would be pain.

Martin Luther bore the pain of shame, rejection, and being perjured against so that the understanding of grace could be born.
Abraham Lincoln bore the pain of rejection, anger and ultimately death so that freedom could be born.
Martin Luther King Jr. bore the pain of prejudice, hatred and ultimately death so that the beginning of equality could be born.
Nelson Mandela bore the pain of 30 years of imprisonment so that the end of apartheid could be born.
Jesus bore the pain of an excruciating death on a cross so that redemption could be born.
There is always pain before a child is born.
There is always pain before something great is born.
Our souls are trapped, temporarily, in skin and bones. But one day, they will be set free!

Life is really difficult when I’m living it with the temporary, view. Life begins to make more sense and become a lot more adventurous when I begin to look at it with the eternal view.
God bless you Mother Rose! You kept your eyes on Jesus!
May we follow your example with an eternal smile on our faces!

Paul Azinger was at the height of his professional golf career when the doctor told him he had life-threatening cancer. “We think that we are in the land of the living going to the land of the dying when in reality we are in the land of the dying headed for the land of the living.”

7 thoughts on “Mother Rose reminds me of the hope of Easter

  1. Ken- I miss your messages so much! I’m glad I read this one! Wonderful as usual! Have a blessed Easter.
    Catrina

  2. What a beautiful story……Makes me think of my Dad that I recently lost and the smile he had on his face as he raised up and looked at me one last time before he breathed his last breath. It puts everything in perspective and touches my soul.
    Thank you,
    Michelle

  3. I speak for our family (Rose’s) when I say we are blessed, blessed blessed! We have a rich christian heritage that was started with Grandma Rosie. She is missed….

  4. “We think that we are in the land of the living going to the land of the dying when in reality we are in the land of the dying headed for the land of the living.”
    Love this!

  5. I Will Never Forget the story of garland. Through it, i understand That The seemingly poor garland is very very rich in the lord. This can change every one person perspective of Life. Money is good but not all. Garland story prooved it

  6. I never met Rose but she is a hero of mine. I can only hope to live the rest of my life as selfless as she did praying and caring for everyone as she did. Sounds like Jesus to me. Thanks for sharing Ken.

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