In a recent post I said that I was teaching a seven week woman's Sunday school class entitled Psalms: Assurance of God's Goodness. This morning we had our fourth lesson in the series. Some of the thoughts of this post are applications of the last two weeks' lessons.
Life is often difficult, but God is always good. Life is often difficult for the family caregiver who sees his or her loved one deteriorate in his or her health. It is difficult physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Yet there are good things that come from all of this. There are good reasons for all the suffering and challenging situations in our lives. For one thing difficult times molds us to become more like Christ. Hence, they are working for our ultimate good and God's glory. Hardships (including care-giving challenges) forces us to make difficult choices about God, it molds our characters, and makes heaven come alive. They also influence our thought lives and makes us more sensitive to others. They further cause us to contemplate our purpose and what is really important.
Yet good reasons don't always meet our needs. Sometimes the pain seems to outweigh all the reasons for our heartaches even though they are good and Biblical reasons. That is why we need to be there for each other with our prayers, our presence, and our kindness and not with a list of reasons for our heartaches, Most of all we need to remember that the Lord does not always give us answers to our "why?" questions, but rather He gives us HIMSELF. He is the answer. Dear caregiver, even if others fail you the Lord is always there to comfort and guide you through the maze of your care-giving responsibilities. He will be there to give you Himself and comfort you when you heart is weighed down with weariness, grief, and perhaps fear of it all.
Do you ever lie awake at night with anxious thoughts about your future and the future of your loved one, dear caregiver? That is the time to pour out your heart to the Lord. God does not need fancy prayers to impress Him. He desires honest prayers from the heart. In the book of Psalms there are more psalms of lament than there are psalms of praise. God already knows our thoughts anyhow. Why not be honest with our prayers? Honesty leads to intimacy with God. Pouring out our hearts to God accompanied by the sacrifice of praise and of ourselves is the key to refuge and security in Him. Pour out you heart's burdens and feelings to the Lord, dear caregiver.
Besides pouring out our hearts to God when they are troubled, we need to examine our hearts. We must search our hearts for God's answers to our troubling situations. Dear caregiver, when you feel anxiety, fear, or anger be it nighttime when you are trying to sleep or during the day time; remember God's promises in God's Word to always be with you. Examine yourself as to why you are not resting this with the Lord. Use this opportunity to examine what is really important and of eternal value.
Caring for my husband for over four and a half years and seeing him deteriorate before my eyes was one of my life's most difficult experiences. Yet it was an opportunity to begin to grow in many of these areas we have just discussed. Psalm 4:4b says, "when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent." When we examine our hearts in silence and listen to the Lord's voice by drowning out our own voice in our heads good things begin to happen.
Finally, we need to offer our hearts to God. God will even take our broken, troubled, and weary hearts. Sometimes the caregiver's heart can feel so weighed down and troubled. Yet the Lord takes that heart as well, dear caregiver, if it is given to Him freely and without pride. Offering our hearts to God is offering ourselves to Him. It means putting our hope, trust, and very lives in His hands even when life and life's circumstances seem so very overwhelming. It means trusting Him, dear caregiver, even when your care-giving situations become seemingly hopeless.
Then joy and peace will begin to sprout in your life, dear caregiver. (Check out verses six through eight of Psalm 4 in the Bible.) This may be a process and involve some struggle, but joy and peace is the ultimate product of a life surrendered to the Lord. This surrender must be a moment by moment surrender, because new things come up all the time.
Make Psalm 4:8 your verse, dear caregiver. Psalm 4:8 says, "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." I also love Psalm 116:7 which says, "Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you." Rest in Him, dear caregiver!