From the way things look, I expect to go through the trial of looking for an evening Personal Care Attendant (PCA) within the next few weeks. I’ve gone through this process countless times over the past 40 years, and I hate it. I realize that, compared to the suffering of disabled people in third world countries, I have no reason to complain about this trial, but I stubbornly compare myself to able-bodied Americans. So yeah, I’m dabbling my toes in the cesspool of self-pity.
Quite understandably, I struggle with fear that nobody will want a job with so few hours (and no, I really can’t offer more hours). I struggle with fear that I’ll have to settle for someone unpleasant and/or unreliable. I fear going back into a nursing home. Additionally, I resent putting my schedule on hold (especially in terms of blogging) while I conduct interviews. Training isn’t fun either. And typically, I’ll go through two or three people who quit after the first few nights before I find someone who will stay.
In my indulgence of self-pity and resentment, however, I keep remembering Scripture’s call to consider trials from an eternal perspective. The Lord’s half-brother James wrote a well-known passage that pulls me into a more reasonable attitude toward my impending situation.
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ~~James 1:2-5 (ESV)
The Lord does care about providing people to put me to bed each night, but He cares even more about developing a godly character in me. The trial of needing a new PCA always confronts me with my physical vulnerability, which in turn humbles me by confronting me with my total dependence on God. He teaches me to trust both His ability and His willingness to provide for my very basic needs in a way that most able-bodied people never get to experience.
Even more importantly, the Lord uses these trials to give me opportunity to govern my emotions. I can see from my initial reaction to my PCA’s announcement that her family and financial pressures may require her to leave me that I still have a long way to go in exercising self-control. The Lord, I believe, once again allows me to go through this trial so that He can bring me into greater maturity.
This situation, in and of itself, inspires anything but joy in me from a natural vantage point. Ah, but Scriptures like James 1:2-5 show me the Lord’s view of the matter, encouraging me to think of how I might glorify Him because of this trial. The joy doesn’t come from the grueling tasks ahead of me. But it does come as He uses all the inconvenience, struggle and frustration to make me more like Him.