“The strength of patience hangs on our capacity to believe that God is up to something good for us in all our delays and detours.” – John Piper
When he was thirty-six years old my Grandpa Jonas Esh was a husband, father to six children and Amish farmer and businessman. Life took a dramatic turn one day when he and a crew of workmen were painting the barns on Grandpa’s farm.
Grandpa was on top of a tall ladder with a spray painter in hand. One of the men on the crew moved the paint truck, not realizing the paint hose was attached to the ladder Grandpa was on.
The ladder fell several stories and so did my Grandpa. His life changed forever. He suffered a broken spine, permanent nerve damage and became partially paralyzed in his legs. In addition, he lost use of his kidneys, forcing the need for dialysis treatments three times per week for the rest of his life.
I don’t know what life looked like for those first years after the accident. I can imagine it must have been incredibly difficult. I do know that Grandpa & Grandma were surrounded by a strong community, and that my uncles grew up quickly as they suddenly had to shoulder the responsibilities of the farm.
I knew the older version of Grandpa. A man who was told he would never walk again, but proved everyone wrong. He had a limp but it failed to stop him. He didn’t use a cane, and even refused to use handicapped tags for his car, saying there were other people who needed the space more than he did. My Grandpa was unstoppable! People with less strength of character would have given up on life, but not Grandpa. Instead, he carried on – displaying incredible perseverance and tenacity.
In spite of all his difficulties, Grandpa never displayed frustration or discontentment to us grandchildren. He was patient, kind, and a whole lot of fun to be with!
I’m sure there are many things that helped cultivate perseverance and patience in his life, and Grandma was an incredible source of strength to him over the years. But I believe his deep trust in his Savior and his eternal perspective are what sustained Grandpa through all the difficulties he faced on a daily basis. Grandpa loved hymns, and one of his favorites was “Going Down the Valley”:
“We are going down the valley one by one,
When the labors of the weary day are done;
One by one, the cares of earth forever past,
We shall stand upon the river brink at last.” ~ Jessie Pounds
I sure do miss you Grandpa. I never got to see you run here on earth – those legs of yours wouldn’t allow you to do it. But I look forward to the day I see you in heaven, whole and complete, maybe even running by that river you loved to sing about. And thank you for teaching me what it means to persevere and be patient – no matter what obstacles and hardships come my way. I’m forever grateful to God for your example.
~ Justina Dee