'I know that he hears me when I pray ...'

Tom’s story | Hanging onto Jesus every day

“I started with nothing. I was the eldest of five and my father was a boiler maker in the shipyards in Glasgow, Scotland. We didn’t have hot water and we didn’t have much food. My grandmother was a strongly religious woman, though, and we always went to Sunday school as children. We migrated to Australia in 1929, in the middle of the depression, when I was seven.

Right now, I’m going through the worst period in my life. I’m living in a nursing home. I can’t see. I can’t hear. I can’t read. I can’t walk. Sometimes I wonder why I’m still alive. I ask God why he doesn’t take me. In January next year I’ll be 100. Sometimes it wears me down. I don’t want to die, but I do want to die.

I think about my wife all the time. Her name was Hazel. She was a wonderful woman. The years of our marriage were the happiest years of my life. We started with nothing in Revesby, Sydney. It was all market gardens back then. I was a boiler maker like my father. Then Hazel and I had three children – two girls and a son. We sent them to Sunday school but I didn’t go myself. I never went to church back then.

I had a dark night and the darkness felt worse than physical pain. But in the morning when I woke up I thought, ‘I have to hang on to Jesus’.

I didn’t go to the war because I was busy building ships, which was very important work. After the war I went back to tech to study. I had to sit exams and I passed them all. Hazel never complained when I was studying. Afterwards, I became the chief welding inspector for NSW. If they were going to build a boat (or anything else out of steel) I had to go and inspect it. I ended up travelling all over the state. And we were able to buy a house in Revesby.

Then Hazel died – that was 50 years ago now. But I think about her all the time, every day. She was a wonderful woman.

After she died, my two daughters helped me. One of them stayed with me for eight weeks. And my son also helped me. He took me to church. It was the first time I went back to church since I was a boy.

Now my son has died too, and I’ve been in this nursing home in Oberon for five years. Sometimes it feels dark in my mind. Last night was like that. I had a dark night and the darkness felt worse than physical pain. But in the morning when I woke up, I thought, ‘I have to hang on to Jesus’. That’s what the pastor from the Anglican church says to me. He visits me every Friday and he’s the best thing in my life at the moment. He reads the Bible to me and he talks with me. It really helps me. I know that he’s right. I have to hang on to Jesus. I’ve been better since he’s been coming to talk with me.

I often wonder why God allows suffering and I worry about my two daughters. But I believe in Jesus. I believe in heaven and I pray every night to Jesus. I know that God listens to me. I know that he hears me when I pray.”

Tom’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.

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