The Strong Hand of God

“I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely”(Psalm 63:8, NLT).

Ron, my beloved husband of 56 ½ years, passed into the presence of His Lord and Savior in the early morning hours of December 10, 2013.

He had been gradually failing due to dementia and extreme sciatica pain and in early November he could not sit, stand, walk, or feed himself. Most of that intense time is a blur to me as Ron was in and out of the hospital, and in a convalescent home for a week while they did rehabilitation therapy to help him walk and feed himself again. But he came home in the same condition that he went into the hospital.

During that time, I had a dream that I was talking to a friend of Ron’s. We were in the living room of an old, whitewashed house with a low, popcorn ceiling. The small house stood on a high hill, and as I looked out a bay window at a village nestled in a lush green valley below, I said to our friend, “Ron is going to pass away soon.”

The scene was so detailed and vivid, but I don’t remember anything else that was said during the dream. When I awoke, I realized that Ron was going to pass away.

After that, the words that God kept bringing to mind were: “the strong hand of the Lord is on us.” As I searched the Bible I discovered how meaningful and true those words proved to be in our lives in so many ways:

“Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your
strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do (Deuteronomy 3:24, NIV)?

“He acted with a strong hand and powerful arm. His faithful love endures forever (Psalm 136:12, NLT).

How did God have His strong hand on us?

Earlier that year, in April of 2013, I had broken my right foot, and our friend, Jimmy, from church had called us almost daily, talking to Ron and me, praying for us, and often singing “Jesus loves you” over the phone when he left a message.

My friend Lana came after I broke my foot to pray with me, clean, and do dishes for all those months while my bones healed. Then in November as Ron was slowly passing away, I fractured my right ankle when I slipped on the kitchen floor. Lana continued to clean and help in so many ways, with such a loving heart.

God sent an outpouring of love through our church family with meals and helps of all kind and provided us with a new dishwasher. Judy and Steve, members we hardly knew, stepped forward and assisted in so many practical ways, arranging for meals, trips to the doctor, and wading through bills and paperwork. We also received much needed financial gifts.

God provided Hospice care for Ron, and my broken ankle turned out to be a “God thing.” As social workers assessed our situation, one worker kept looking back and forth between Ron and me, saying, “They can’t be left alone. They need help.”

I couldn’t care for Ron because I was in a wheelchair and couldn’t reach him to give him medication or food, or physically care for him. To be honest, I am not good at nursing care. So through Hospice, God provided help for us 24/7.

Our friends, Pastor Archie; Greg, Ron’s Bible study leader; and men from the group came to visit Ron. They read Scripture and prayed aloud for Ron, who slipped in and out of consciousness and could not sit up at all. On a Thursday, the day of the study, Ron suddenly awoke, sat up, and said, “I have to go to Bible Study.”

We told him that he couldn’t go, but he became agitated as he tried to climb out of bed and insisted, “I’m going to Bible study.”

I finally had to call Greg and put him on the phone with Ron. Greg was able to calm Ron and help him understand that he couldn’t get out of bed. As Greg said at Ron’s service, “That was the first time I had to tell one of the men they couldn’t come to Bible study.”

Though Ron had no idea what day it was or that the Bible study was that night, we were amazed that he knew in his spirit.

During one of Pastor Archie’s visit, he said to Ron, who was semi-conscious, “Brother Ron I have heard you sing hundreds of times over the years we’ve known each other, and right now there is a song you are singing in your head. What is that song?”

Ron roused from his semi-conscious state and immediately started singing softly, his voice crackling,

“Have Thine own way, Lord!

Have Thine own way!

Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.

Mold me and make me after Thy will,

While I am waiting, yielded and still.
Have Thine own way, Lord!
Have Thine own way!”

Adelaide A. Pollard, 1907;
Isaiah 64:8)

Those of us standing around his bed joined in with Ron, our own voices breaking. It was a sacred moment.

Then three days before Ron passed away, county funds had run out and he would no longer have care. Though we did not know what we would do or how long Ron would live, the Lord gave me peace that He would take care of us those remaining days, and He did. His strong hand was upon us.

Our friends Molliann and Kelly Flowers came that very evening, and she took care of Ron through the night and most of the next day when my brother and his wife, Cindy, a retired nurse, came, and then she took over. By then Ron was in a deep coma, and we realized death was very close and our 21 year old grandson, Byron, stayed with us.

Sometime on December 10, in the early morning hours, Ron passed away. Byron awoke, but he waited to call hospice and waken me until about five a.m. Then he wheeled me down to Ron’s room. God’s peace pervaded and His strong presence was upon us. Though I was numb with grief and a deep sense of loss, I knew Ron was home now and free from pain. Though he had been blind now he could see. Though he had been confused for so long, now he was clear minded. Now He was rejoicing with Jesus.

I realized then the many prayers God had answered. Ron’s greatest fear had been that he would outlive me. We both had wanted him to die at home, and he did. Hospice had been searching for a convalescent home that would take Ron during his final days. We knew God had intervened, and granted us our desires when no beds were found.

That day as we planned Ron’s service, we agreed that we wanted it to be a celebration of his life. So all of our grandchildren along with Jimmy sang at Ron’s service. Byron played the drums and another friend, Alan, played Ron’s trumpet. We had two videos of Ron singing at our church. God’s strong hand was on us.

We thank our church family and friends who so lovingly exemplified this passage in their sacrificial giving to us.

Romans 15:1-6
The Message (MSG)

1-2 Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”

3-6 That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next. May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!

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