A: I’m thankful for your concern for your grandmother; I’m afraid some people in her situation never have any visitors or see anyone who cares about them. Often, while visiting someone in a nursing home the staff has asked me to spend time with residents who never have a visitor (which I’ve been glad to do).
Don’t feel guilty because you can’t do everything you’d like to do for your grandmother. The next time you visit, however, talk with the staff and find out what activities they have for residents (including chapel services). Then encourage her to take advantage of them and be as active and friendly as possible.
Your pastor also may know a church in her area that has a special outreach to local nursing homes. Many churches do this, and others should be encouraged to reach out to the elderly. The Bible commands us to “Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need” (1 Timothy 5:3).
In addition, pray for your grandmother, and let her know you’re praying for her. Pray that she will have a special sense of God’s presence and peace during this stage of her life, and that her faith and hope will be in Christ. Ask God also to help you think of other ways you can express your love for her. Nothing, for example, brightens a lonely person’s day like an unexpected phone call or a cheery card.
Q: My aunt claims to be a Christian, and I’m sure she is, but she’s always complaining and never seems happy about anything. In fact, her family jokes that the only thing that makes her happy is complaining. Why is she like this? Aren’t Christians supposed to be joyful? — Mrs. C.G.
A: Yes, they are, and one reason is because they know that this life — with all its imperfections and troubles — isn’t all there is, but ahead of us is heaven. Why, then, should we spend our time complaining? The Bible says, “We boast in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).
I suspect we’ve all known people like this, and admittedly they’re not pleasant to be around. But sometimes we need to look beneath the surface (so to speak) and find out why they are this way. Sometimes it’s because they’ve experienced much unhappiness in life, and no matter what happens, they tend to measure life by what it lacks instead of what it includes that’s good. Or occasionally I’ve wondered if someone was complaining just to get attention.
You may never discover why your aunt is this way, but that shouldn’t keep you from praying for her, asking God to bless her so abundantly that she won’t be able to find anything to complain about! Pray, too, that God will give you an opportunity to confront her, lovingly but directly, about her negative attitude.
Most of all, urge her to find her joy in Christ and in the promises of His Word. Life this side of heaven will never be perfect, but when we know Christ, we know we belong to Him, and He fills us with His love. The Bible says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault’” (Philippians 2:14-15).
Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit www.billygraham.org.