More often than not, we measure someone’s success, their worth, their like-ability and or level of importance by their pocketbooks and bank accounts. Ask yourself – how often have you been impressed when someone in front of you at the cashier whips out a hundred dollar bill to pay for $5 worth of ‘stuff’? Or how about the guy who pulls out his money roll and unclips it from his money clip and there must be — what? A thousand twenty dollar bills in that thing? Our first thought is probably along the lines that the man or woman is most likely pretty well off, if not just stinkin’ rich.
And maybe – just maybe – they are not rich at all. After all, how do you define ‘rich’?
About a week ago, I was thinking about all the people I know who are sick or are caring for a loved one who is sick or struggling with an illness of whatever sort. It doesn’t have to be cancer. It doesn’t have to be Parkinson’s disease. It can be depression. An addictive behavior. Insecurities. Nightmares of the past. Some sort of illness that debilitates you from living fully in the now.
Jan’s husband of 23 years is in the hospital fighting what the doctors have called a ‘losing’ battle with cancer. I talked to her the other day – not long after she received the news of her daughter being in a horrifying car accident, not expected to live. She’s pulled through – somehow. So far. Oh – and did I mention Jan doesn’t work and besides her husbands little incomes, relies on what little she receives from Social Security Disability Income because she was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s disease six years ago at the age of 38?
Lance was given up for adoption at birth so his mother could continue her sordid lifestyle. Raised in a foster home, he was addicted to heroin by the age of twelve, under the guidance of his lovely foster parents. By the time he was fourteen, he ran away from the drug, mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse that defined his childhood.
Lindsey has just divorced after a 28 year long battle with a man who admittedly never loved her and expected a slave servant instead. There was no affection, no physical touch – unless you count the tip of the gun touching the tip of her nose while he threatened her to obey. She obeyed for 28 years until he found someone his senior who was able to take care of him in a monetary lifestyle he had only dreamed of. She was left with absolutely nothing.
I could go on and on. I see some of these faces each day. I talk to the voices and hear their tales of anguish and their desperate cries for hope and healing. Some of them hold on to a rope of faith in which they cannot see Who holds the other end. But they know. Oh – do they know. Some lay in bed at night and as the darkness consumes their being, they are desperately yearning for some lifeline that they can grasp hold of.
So… about a week ago I’m driving in the car thinking of these people. Of course, this was right after I was thinking about myself. Thinking about how I feel like such a burden emotionally, physically, and financially to others because I have Parkinson’s disease. Thinking about how I wish I could get my husband a job so he’d feel like he was contributing to his family and had a purpose in life. Thinking about addictions that ravage our family and even though ‘only’ three out of 18 family members have some sort of addiction, those ‘addictions’ personally affect all 18 people. And there’s more I was dwelling on, but as I was thinking about myself, I pulled up to a glaring red light and that is where God stopped me.
You are rich.
You are rich.
There was no more explanation needed. I knew. I knew exactly what that meant.
You’re right Lord. I am rich. I have everything because of You. I have a husband who loves me and respects me and takes care of me without complaint. He may not know it or believe it but he contributes so much more than others know or can understand. I may not know how each bill will be paid, but You do. I may not know if those we I love will ever be free from the things that hold them captive, but I have relentless hope in You. And, even though I have Parkinson’s and sometimes fear what tomorrow may hold, I have You. And every time I step outside and I look up into the sky or hear a bird sing or see the colors of all, I realize how rich I am. The things of this world may try to rob my joy, leave me hopeless and sitting in pity, but it can’t, for I am rich. And if I forget that, I will think of Lindsey and Lance and Jan and remember life really could be a whole lot worse.
From my heart,