One month ago today, my dad had his stroke. Although he doesn’t have some of the same skills he did (yet), Dad is still the same dad he was one month ago plus a day. And, God is still the same God he was on February 7.
My dad and my family are in a season of change–again. He’s been in the hospital for the last month undergoing physical and occupational therapy to regain movement in his left leg and arm which were primarily affected. We and the doctors are very hopeful that in time he will be able to do many of the things he’s always done. Each day he is making improvements and becoming more like “himself”, shifting again the reality of what his daily life is like. Regardless of how close he gets to his full potential with additional therapy and sheer will of character, life has inevitably changed. Dad’s can dos have changed. His schedule has changed. His independence has changed. Both Dad and Mom’s jobs have changed. How they spend their time has changed. Where they can go has changed. The scale of their lives has changed, time and energy focused on more basic tasks. The appearance of their home has changed. Their ability to visit in my home has changed. The ease of holding my children has changed. Their presence in our lives has changed.
Throughout this month, two thoughts have persisted in rising above the din of confusion and adjustment, of sickness and care-giving, of schedules and sleeplessness. Despite the changes, a family is a family regardless of time, abilities, presence and the space between. And, we will remain a family. We will adjust, and life and love will continue.
“I, the Lord, do not change; therefore, you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” (malachi 3:6)
Right now, Dad can’t move as he once did. But, God is still moving in strong support of His own. Therefore, we are not consumed by helplessness.
Though we are beginning to see movement in his shoulder, Dad’s arm has been greatly weakened. But, the same outstretched arm of God that made the heavens and the earth is still reaching. Therefore, we are not consumed by impossibilities.
In the days after the stroke, Dad had a slight slurred speech that has thankfully subsided. But, the words of God were and are crisp and sharp. They stand forever. Therefore, we are not consumed by the silent unknown.
Next week, Dad will come home sitting in a wheelchair, at least for a time. But, God is still sitting on the same throne of righteousness He inhabited 29 days ago. Therefore, we are not consumed by paralyzing fear.
It will be some time before Dad may be able to enjoy the same activities he once did. But, the uncommon joy of God is our strength. Therefore, we are not consumed by sorrow.
Dad may not be able to work again. But, God has not stopped working in us for His good pleasure. Therefore, we are not consumed by inactivity.
Dad is slowly relearning to put one foot in front of the other. But, the rock of our God still enables sure footing. Therefore, we are not consumed by dark stumbling.
The comfortable assumption of a parent I’ve relied upon to be strong has been weakened. But, the God of comfort is still the abundant Father of mercies. Therefore, we are not consumed by anxious unrest.
God has not changed. He remains. Our healer. Our protector. Our light. His love and His reach will continue as it always has. In this, alone, are we steadied from the consuming tide of change.