Recently we were blessed with unseasonably warm temperatures here in Wisconsin where I live. We had a few days of record breaking or near record breaking temperatures in a row. The weather was nice enough to walk outside without jackets and certainly without winter coats. It was a nearly unheard of and very pleasant reprieve from winter in February. The birds were singing again, and a friend of mine told me she had even seen her tulips starting to poke their heads out of the ground.
However, reality set in starting Thursday night of last week, and Friday morning I woke up to cold and wind and also snow, rain, and icy conditions. Temperatures had dropped into the 30s degrees Fahrenheit and the 20s were predicted later in the day. There was even a two hour delay in a couple school districts in my general area. Obviously I prefer the warmer temperatures we were enjoying just a few days ago. They were a special gift. Yet as I looked out my window on Friday morning and the couple days following there was a special beauty to the winter scene as well.
We all prefer the pleasant spring-like times of life. We often do not like the winter-like challenges and struggles of life in general and the ones which family care-giving can present. If I had been given the opportunity to choose, I would not have chosen for my husband to be stricken with his neurological disease. I would not have chosen the four and a half year struggle we endured dealing with his disease. Nor would I have chosen his death in early 2011. I would have loved to spend many happy years of retirement with him Yet I grew so much in my love for the Lord and in my character during that time. It also prepared me for ministry opportunities since that time which are a direct result of my care-giving years.
Neither would God's chosen people in the Bible have chosen some of the situations that they found themselves in. Yet God used these people for His glory and also developed their characters in the process. Joseph in the Old Testament was sold into slavery by his brothers. A host of other difficult circumstances followed Joseph after that. Yet in the end God used Joseph to save his family and people from famine. John the Baptist was chosen to be the forerunner of Jesus. Yet in the end he was imprisoned and even ultimately beheaded. Yet Johns' faithfulness speaks to us even today. Mary, the mother of Jesus, must have felt great emotional hurt seeing her son rejected and later crucified. Yet God used that for our salvation. The apostles all suffered persecution. Yet God used all that for the spread of the Gospel and even their joy.
Dear caregiver, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed in your current care-giving challenges with your loved one. You perhaps dream of and would prefer a more pleasant spring-like status in your life's circumstances. When you feel like this remember how God has helped you in the past. (Check out Psalm 77 in the Bible especially verses 11 through 14.) If God helped you in the past, He will help you now in His perfect timing. Also realize that this is shaping your character. God may use this current experience of yours in awesome ways in the future,
Also know that God is using you right now not only in the life of your loved one for whom you are caring, but also in the lives of others. Other people are watching you. Ministry is doing God's will even when everything around you appears to be going wrong. As you continue to persevere and continue to trust that God is in control, other people take notice and are blessed and encouraged. Yes, even winter can be beautiful, and your example in this winter-like period of life is a beautiful thing. Thank you, for all that you do, dear care-giver!