Behind That Smiling Face (2)

November 20, 1997
by Grant Muir

Psalm 34:11-12 – Come, my young friends and listen to me, and I will teach you to have reverence for the Lord. Would you like to enjoy life? Do you want a long life with happiness?

In the previous devotional you were introduced to Rhoda, the woman "behind that smiling face". In it she told how she learned to enjoy life even while her only son Wayne's health was at the point of destroying her with worry and anxiety. Today we will see how she is coping with the even greater burden of a total breakdown of her husband George's health.

Following World War 2 Rhoda married George, a farm boy from her own rural area. After a few years in Toronto, a common love for the land lured them back to the country and to Rhoda's home farm. Here they did well. Their operation prospered and expanded until they owned a thousand acres. During this time they were blessed with two children. Truly there was joy and happiness.

After twenty years of farming, however, they sold the farm, acquired six acres of land, built a modern country home and launched on a completely new career. George began working at Youthdale, a camp for disturbed young people, where his wisdom and kindly nature touched even the most hardened kids. Rhoda was an unofficial housemother to the counsellors and camp leaders, providing a home away from home for them. In 1981, George retired but kept very busy with community work. Now surely they could enjoy life and happiness.

There were good years, but, looking back, Rhoda could recognize some little things that were not just right with George. By 1994, all hopes for a normal happy retirement were dashed. George was finally diagnosed as having Alzheimer's disease and had to be confined to a nursing home. This seemed like the last blow. Only those who have experienced the pain and devastation caused by this most dreaded affliction can even begin to know what Rhoda is going through. Nevertheless, she keeps on smiling happily as if nothing was wrong. At least once a week she makes the long journey to visit George. She takes him for walks, holds his hand, or is just there beside him without any sign of thanks or even recognition.

What the Psalmist wanted to teach, Rhoda has learned. Reverence for the Lord, with all that implies for steadfast faith and endless love, gets her mind off herself and gives her genuine joy. Despite everything, a long life with happiness continues to be hers.

    It is no secret what God can do.
    What He's done for others He'll do for you
    Stewart Hamblen

    Prayer: O Lord our God, merciful and mighty, we praise and thank you for Rhoda and for all who, like her, cry for help and find it at the moment of deepest need. Please teach us such reverence for yourself that we too may enjoy life, a long life and happiness. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    About the author:

    Grant Muir
    (deceased)

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