September 1

Blessings Received & Lessons Learned from Karen Harju

The Bible tells us that every believer has an important role in the body of Christ to play.  Read these words from 1 Corinthians 12:18, 22-24.

But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. . . . those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. . . . But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it.


Our dear, departed sister Karen Harju reminds me of these words.  Karen was a simple believer who fits the description that Paul is giving here of the weaker parts of the body.  She didn’t get special honor or recognition.  When she was elected to serve on the Worship Board several years ago she often expressed surprise because she didn’t feel she had much to offer.  She was the kind of person who would say, “What can I do?”


Today we bestow special honor on Karen.  I am particularly indebted to her for a number of things.  One is that she was a faithful part of my prayer group on Wednesdays from Noon to 1:00pm.  Karen prayed with such sincerity and honesty that it was like listening to a child speak to her Father.  There was no pretense or fancy words, just direct, honest, heartfelt communication with God.


I enjoyed listening to Karen pray so much that I would almost always ask her to begin our prayer time because she set such a nice tone.  Sometimes visiting her in the hospital I would ask her to pray for me just so I could hear her pray again.  The last time at Mather Nursing Home when she finished praying for Ellen and me I told Karen how much her prayer meant to me.  She thanked me but then said, “It really wasn’t for you.”  We laughed; Karen could be direct, and I said I knew it wasn’t for me but that hearing her pray blessed my soul.


Karen also was so grateful despite all she had been through.  After Mary Treml died Karen lost her best friend and closest advocate.  Mary was like a mother to her.   The transition that Karen went through to foster care and then a nursing home was a difficult journey.  It was in our prayer meeting one day as Karen was struggling with her new circumstances that we gathered around her and prayed that she might have a change of attitude to accept new people in her life.  I have never seen such a dramatic answer to prayer.  Right then a light went on; Karen saw that her attitude was wrong, and that she needed to show Christ’s love to others.  A wonderful peace came over her that changed her entire outlook.  From then on out, in spite of her many hospitalizations, when we would visit her she would express thanks to how good the Lord had been to her.


The last time Ellen and I visited Karen I was in somewhat of a down mood in the late afternoon.  I didn’t know what to do with myself.  I called Ellen and suggested we visit Karen at Marquette General Hospital.  I learned she was in Ishpeming at Mather.  Did we want to go that far near dinner time?  We went.  Sure enough, Karen spoke of how much she loved the people of Bethel and how good the Lord had been to her.  She blessed our souls as we listened to her pray.  I left feeling that we went to minister to Karen but she has ministered to us.  That gloom I had felt lifted as I saw how Karen “was thankful in all circumstances.”  Karen is with the Lord now.  Farewell & well done.


Your friend, blessed by Karen, Pastor Brian (:-}).