Altie was in her seventies when admitted to Hospice for bone cancer. She was born and raised in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. She and her husband moved to Southern Ohio shortly after getting married.
Altie testified, “I was saved at age fifty. My husband was saved fifteen years before me; but he didn’t push me. It has to be your time. You’ll know when it’s your time. He’ll come to you.”
Altie lived in town with her daughter, Eva, for several weeks following her cancer surgery, but she longed for her country home. So we arranged home delivered meals and an emergency response system, and Altie was on her way back home. Her family continued to support and encourage Altie while respecting her independence.
On my first visit to her old home place Altie gave me a tour and proudly declared, “Me and my husband built this house; and I drove just as many nails as he did!”
Altie adjusted remarkably well to returning home and living semi-independently; especially when you consider she was right handed and had very limited use of her right arm which was in a sling. Cancer had ravaged the bones in Altie’s arm and shoulder and the slightest movement triggered excruciating pain.
When I complimented her on her adjustment, on learning to use her left hand, she replied, “But I think I’ve learned it a little too late. I think the cancer is getting worse. I’m not walking to the mailbox now and I’m not sleeping very well. You can’t help but ask God, ‘Why me? Why did all this have to happen to me?’ But I’ve always heard it said that we aren’t supposed to question God.”
I’ve heard that statement so many times too, but this time I couldn’t let it slide, so I asked Altie, or more accurately, exclaimed, “Who says so!”
When I returned to the office I asked Shirley, one of our volunteers, her thoughts about questioning God. Shirley, being a student of the Bible, enthusiastically accepted the challenge of researching what the Bible had to say about it.
The next day Shirley reported her findings, “I started reading the Bible from the beginning and everywhere I turned someone was questioning or arguing with God.” She handed me her notes handwritten on a yellow legal pad. Following are some excerpts: ‘Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh…What shall I say to them?’(Exodus 3:11-13); ‘What if they will not believe me…?’ (Exodus 4:1); ‘Moses argued with God’ (Exodus 4:10); ‘Abraham questioned the Lord’ (Genesis 18:23). Shirley concluded, “The Bible is full of people asking questions of God. God wants us to turn to Him. God understands us. He understands our weaknesses and our questions.”
I stand guilty of agreeing with, and even repeating, expressions, mottos and assertions without questioning. For example, I’ve always heard it said, “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is permission,”, but “it ain't necessarily so,” (From the musical, “Porgy and Bess”, 1935).
As a matter of fact, following that advice can get you into a heap of trouble. And I’ve always heard it said, “Happy wife, happy life”, but “it ain't necessarily so.”
Just because my wife, Susie, is happy as a lark about the new living room suit we bought last weekend and the new flooring we are having installed, it doesn’t’ mean I’m a happy husband, “it ain't necessarily so”. And we’ve all heard it said, “You can do anything you set your mind to”, but “it ain't necessarily so”.
I believe that we can be and do everything that God has created and ordained us to be and do, but we can’t do anything we set our minds to. And finally, we’ve all heard it said “God helps those who help themselves, but Biblically it ain't so. God helps those who realize they can’t help themselves and He does for us what we can never do.
So the next time someone proclaims, “I’ve always heard it said…” ask, who said so?” Just because they’ve always heard it said; “it ain't necessarily so.” “…scarcely anyone appears to have the discernment or the courage to turn around and lean into the wind even though the truth may easily lie in that direction…the voice of the turtle dove was rarely heard in the land; instead the parrot sat on his artificial perch and dutifully repeated what he had been taught, and the whole emotional tone was somber and dull, (“Keys to the Deeper Life”, by A.W. Tozer).
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at 740-357-6091 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can order Loren's book, "Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course", at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.