I am still pondering the topic of courage. It’s the time of year when we hold our long standing family reunion, and that always gets me thinking about my courageous Scots-Irish ancestors. Today, I am reminded of my grandmother and her three delightful sisters. What amazing lives they led, what testimonies of faith and courage. Their stories offer important life lessons for us all.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4 – NIV
You can tell a lot about a person’s character by watching the way they handle hardship. Since my Aunt Ted’s death several months ago, I have been thinking a lot about my grandmother and her three dear sisters. As I pondered the events of their lives, I was struck by the degree of hardships these fine women had to endure.
As daughters of a cotton farmer and part time blacksmith, they learned quickly about hard work and hard times. Born in the early 1900’s, they were just young girls with the outbreak of the firs World War.
As teenagers, my grandmother and her oldest sister nearly died during a scarlet fever outbreak. In those days, losing children to contagious diseases was common. There were no vaccines or antibiotics, let alone hospitals to treat such ailments.
Those sisters witnessed the stock market crash of 1929 and endured the terror of the Great Depression. With the economic collapse, my grandmother almost lost the opportunity to finish her senior year of college. Had it not been for the generosity of the college president, she would have lost her claim to a college degree.
Throughout those hard years of the Great Depression, the sisters scrimped and saved to make ends meet for their young families only to find their country embroiled in yet another World War. Furthermore, these women were not strangers to personal heartache and loss. My grandmother gave birth to a son with breathing issues on an icy Christmas Eve. The roads were too bad for the doctor to get there, and the baby died on Christmas Day. After only a couple of years of marriage, tragedy struck my Aunt Ted’s home. Her brilliant husband was a Navy physician and contracted a deadly form of meningitis from a patient he was treating. Ted was left alone to raise their two year old daughter.
The end of the Second World War didn’t solve all life’s problems. There were farms to manage, and crops to hoe. There were babies to raise, and meals to prepare.
Did I mention all these women were school teachers, teaching all day and then returning home to finish house and farm chores? I can still see my Grandmama sitting at the kitchen table grading papers from her high school biology classes. She had rose early to complete her chores, taught all day, cooked and cleaned up the supper dishes before starting to grade papers.
Yes, these were hard working women who lived through some very hard times. Still, I never heard them whine or complain. They may have fussed at their children or spouses about some transgression, but they didn’t complain about their lot in life. In fact, they were grateful to enjoy any of the fruits yielded from their hard labor, always giving thanks for these good blessings. They treasured their families dearly, and loved their Lord with their whole hearts.
When facing hardships, most of us fall prey to the “Why me?” question. I am sure those dear Southern ladies pondered that question from time to time, but they didn’t live that way. Instead, their attitudes and actions conveyed a “Why not me?” approach. They viewed hardship as a part of living in this fallen and sinful world. It is to be expected and endured with grace and faith.
It’s true. How you choose to handle hardship says a lot about your character. Facing the trials of life with an outlook grounded in faith, hope and love builds a character of strength, integrity, and perseverance. These matriarchs of our family were certainly role models of these qualities. It is their legacy to the generations that follow.
May you and I do as well. May we live lives of honor and integrity, grounded in faith, overflowing in love. May we stand strong in times of peril and give thanks in times of plenty. Let us Lose our entitled attitudes and quit our complaining. May we handle the hardships of life in a way that brings glory to our God.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7 – NIV
O Dear Lord, thank You for Your great love for us, for Your bountiful blessings upon our lives. Give us strength to face the trials of life with honor, integrity and perseverance. Let us build our lives upon Your love. May we stand on Your promises and trust in Your good plan. May we face the future with courage. Let the testimony of our faith encourage others and bring You glory.