Have you ever asked the question "why?" when you think about your loved one's illness or disability, dear caregiver? Have you ever wondered why your loved one has to experience the difficulties of his or her illness or why you have to face the challenges and sometimes heartaches of being your loved one's caregiver?
I don't think we will ever find an answer to the "why?" question that will satisfy us. That has to be left in God's hands. We can trust, however, that God had a purpose in all that He allows and ordains in our lives. Suffering is not just random and without meaning. God always uses even the sad and evil things in our lives for good purposes in both our lives and in the lives of others. This is something difficult to see in our lives, but it does not negate the truth of it.
Just like physical pain is a blessing in the sense that it alerts us to something that is wrong in our bodies, so emotional pain can help us turn to God in a deeper and sweeter way. We can choose to become bitter in such times, or we can choose to go deeper into God's Word and prayer during such times. Suffering can cause us to think more deeply about the things of God and give us the gift of a more intimacy with the Lord. It can give us a greater passion and love for the Lord.
Suffering and challenging circumstances also gives us a chance to prove that our faith is genuine. It is easy to say that one trusts in the Lord when things are going according to our desires and plans. Difficult situations like a loved one's illness or disability gives us the joy of knowing that faith works even in very difficult times. It gives us the chance to see our faith exercised in unimaginable circumstances and in situations we would never have chosen for ourselves.
Suffering and challenging circumstances further give us the opportunity to mature in the Lord. We prefer things to always go according to our plans and to not have to experience any physical and emotional pain in this life. We have bought into the dream of "happily ever after" during this life time. Yet we do not grow spiritually during the easy times in our lives, but we grow spiritually through suffering and difficult times. This only happens, however, when we choose to respond in joy and trust in the Lord during those difficult circumstances. This is not the same as happiness in circumstances. It is a joy in knowing that the Lord is in control and trusting Him. It is knowing that when we respond in joy and trust our faith is building our perseverance which in turn develops character and spiritual maturity. There are times during the overwhelming circumstances of my care-giving days and later in my widow days that I have thought to myself, "I could use a little less character building for awhile, Lord!" Yet God knows what He is doing. Rest in Him, dear caregiver!
Suffering and challenging experiences can also be an opportunity for God's glory to be displayed in your life and in the life of the loved one for whom you are caring by your willingness to rest in Him and not question His purpose. Make it your purpose, dear caregiver, to bring glory to God in this way. Finally, God also uses suffering and challenging experiences to open our eyes to the needs and heartaches of others. God will use your pain and the comfort God gives you to better help others now and in the days ahead, dear caregiver. (II Corinthians 1:6-7)
The heartache of seeing my husband deteriorate step by step at an alarming rate while I was his caregiver for four and a half years was very difficult. The knowledge that there was not a thing I could do about it was disheartening. The overwhelming challenges of taking care of a man who was about 200 pounds and in the end completely disabled, while I am only five foot two inches tall was overwhelming. The grief of finally losing him to death was intense. Yet the Lord has been faithful. Care-giving gave me the opportunity to learn that truth in a new way. Your care-giving experiences have purpose, dear caregiver. Trust in Him and grow in Him through these times.