QUESTION: My friend’s father recently passed away and there was no will to help settle the estate. The result was chaos, which made me decide to talk to my parents about having a will because they have considerable assets. When we (my brother and I) talked to them, their reply was, “Oh, you’ll know what to do when the time comes.” This [response] after we had explained what happened to my friend and even told them that probate can be expensive.
Does the Bible say anything about a situation like this? We don’t want to upset our parents and we made it clear we weren’t rushing them into “closing their eyes for the last time.” Having to deal with a loved one’s passing is enough without having to deal with probate complications. We’re open to suggestions.
~ Taking Care of Business
Dear Taking Care of Business,
The Bible (at least the New Testament) is more concerned with spiritual treasures than material treasures. So using a biblical justification for providing a will, in my opinion, is on pretty soft ground. With that said, I fully appreciate your concern and the reasons for them. I think your initial approach to your parents inquiring if they either had a will or would consider preparing one is perfectly justified and rational in light of your awareness of, and anxiety over, your friend’s experience. I also appreciate your concern that your parents really didn’t give you the much-needed clarity you required for allaying your anxiety over this issue.
So what should be done? There are two things you can do. One is practical, the other is spiritual. The practical is to re-approach your parents and make a further request for clarity. Perhaps after your first request, they just needed sometime to digest this issue. Perhaps they already have a will, and may feel uncomfortable discussing its contents with you and your brother. Many parents are like that. Make it clear you are not there to discuss what their plans are for the disposal of their estate. That is their business. Make it clear your only concern is to know if they have taken the legal steps that will avoid probate, which having a will would accomplish. Leave it that. If they still refuse to say, then let it go. You have done all you can do on that level.
That is the time to turn away from outer to the inner where all real work is done anyway. How so? Life is a mirror that reflects our own state of consciousness that includes our fears and desires. Thus, if we wish to change anything on the outside (even if it involves other people) we must change it from the inside first. That is within our own mind, our own state of consciousness. How to do that? You need only state what it is you desire. In this case, I would use this affirmation, which you can repeat anytime you find yourself becoming anxious over this issue. Here it is: “This situation is governed by Divine Intelligence which always works for the good of all parties involved. There is a perfect resolution to this issue of my concern, which will be a blessing for all without any trauma, drama, stress or strain. I give thanks for that, and so it is.”
Know that when you ask, it is done. Prayerfully, in this instance, there will be many years yet before you see the truth of how this plays out.
But know that when it does happen, the resolution will be as you have spoken it.
Anthony P. Kelson, RScP
Dear Taking Care of Business,
I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your friend’s father. Losing a parent is never easy, especially if the family is close. The question you pose is always such a sensitive subject. Many parents are challenged by revealing their assets to their children for fear that there will be some negative consequences. Some have difficulty facing their own mortality. Often, children are reluctant to ask these difficult questions because it very well may sound like they are being inconsiderate of the here and now, while focusing on the eventuality of the future.
It sounds like you want to honor your parents, as instructed in Ephesians 6, and that your parents have trained you and your brother to be respectful of their feelings and desires (also Ephesians 6). I wonder if they have made provisions for you, but are not comfortable discussing the details at this time. You might consider asking if they would be comfortable sharing things like where they keep important documents and if they would like your help with any financial planning. Depending on their age, you may have to seek counsel in how best to manage their affairs. Some seniors are fiercely independent, which is a wonderful quality and will keep them healthy longer.
The Bible does make reference in 1 Peter 4:10 to the importance of being “…faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” Perhaps you can bring the topic up again with a focus on your own desires to be faithful stewards of what your parents have worked so hard to gain. The approach might be similar to the instruction in 2 Corinthians 12:14: “… because what I want is not your possessions but you.” This may help them understand your underlying concerns with regard to their financial portfolio, as well as remind them that their well-being is, ultimately, your primary concern.
QUESTION: Last week I visited a friend with dementia who I’ve known for 54 years but haven’t seen for over two years because I moved away for a while. We met at our first jobs right out of high school. We stayed in touch over time, sharing our families’ [stories] with one another. I was unprepared to see her in an almost zombie state and unable to carry on a conversation. She had been active in her church, was a very generous individual and fun to be with. I left the visit extremely sad and wondering if there is anything I can do for her? Her daughter, who is like a niece to me, says she remembers nothing from moment to moment. She also requires an around-the-clock caretaker, which the family has arranged for her. I plan to continue visiting her even though she doesn’t remember me, but I can’t help but ask the question: Does God have anything to do with things that create such sadness in our lives?
~ True Friend
Dear True Friend,
The experience you are having has troubled untold numbers throughout humanity. Where is God in all of this? Does God have anything to do with things that create such sadness in our lives? The short answer of the God of my faith is “No.” God does not desire for people to suffer. He is not the source of sufferings’ creation. He has declared His love for all people. He is clear that His intention for people is to live without suffering.
So where is He in things like this? He says that He is right there with all who suffer. His Spirit is present, experiencing the suffering right along side of those who suffer. He stays with them throughout, providing Spiritual comfort for all those who seek it in the way that He provides it. I often will share with people who ask the same question as you [that] God has a greater heart of compassion than anyone. He knows what you are feeling/thinking/experiencing and He cares. Oh how He cares for you! And if you ask Him, truly ask Him, He will be there with you every moment that you want Him to be.
God says that He remembers every single tear and holds them dear to His heart. What a true friend you are.
Dear True Friend,
What are wonderful friend you are! Despite the fact that she can’t even recognize you now, you still care for her enough to make the visits. You are a blessing to her even if she does not recognize nor remember you!
You are asking one of the most difficult questions in all of theology. God is eternal, infinite, all-powerful, all knowing, all loving and gracious. So why should human beings suffer and experience such sadness in our lives? I think pain and suffering is a part of humanity as much as joy and happiness is. God has never promised no suffering nor pain to us. What God has promised to humanity is His guidance and companionship. In fact, our weakness and sadness awakens God to many people. Our sufferings and sadness have values as much as joys and happiness in our lives.
Without painful labor of a woman, no child is brought into this world. What we really need to do is start formulating responses to our questions. We need to redirect the question to how can we help out those who are suffering from why does God allow suffering. Take your righteous frustration and turn it into a force for doing good. Let your questions turn into solutions. When you see people suffering, help them. When you see people sad, encourage them. Combat the pain in the world with goodness. Alleviate suffering wherever you can.