Monday, January 28, 2013

Frustrations and Encouragement

Care-giving for a loved one with a terminal illness is at best emotionally and spiritually challenging. On January 28, 2009 in the middle of my care-giving days I wrote the following words:

Today I had many feelings of frustration. Frustration at my husband’s disease. Frustration at my husband for not doing things I think he could do to fight off the speed of the progress of this disease. Mixed with these feelings was a little cabin fever again and feelings of guilt for having feelings of frustration.

Tonight I do feel better. I went to mid-week services in church. In this case what probably helped me the most, however, was talking with a couple ladies afterwords. Even though they are not going through the exact experiences I am going through, they seemed to be able to empathize with me on many levels. They also assured me of their prayers. The Lord does know whom to place in our paths when we need them. Thank you, Lord.”

In the frustrations of care-giving Christian caregivers need to run to the Lord God for strength and encouragement. God sometimes uses other people for that purpose also, however. Dear caregiver, do not be afraid to reach out to others for help and encouragement. Also remember to thank God for the people He brings into your path which are a source of encouragement.

Finally, there are those who will disappoint you because of their lack of concern and involvement. These people are often people you would think should be the ones who are most helpful in your loved one’s care, but they disappoint you in their lack of involvement and concern. Do not concentrate on the disappointments of these people’s actions and attitudes. Doing that will serve no purpose but to discourage you and bring you down emotionally. God also asks us to forgive those who are not there for us physically and emotionally when we need them. Rather thank God for those who do step up and help by their words, actions or prayers. They are truly a gift from God.

Monday, January 21, 2013

He is Your Strength

There were times in my care-giving days that I thought to myself, “I can't do this anymore.” The physical and emotional challenges and stress of caring for my husband became increasingly overwhelming especially in the last months of his life. Have ever felt this way, dear caregiver?

Philippians 4:13 reminds us, however, that we can do anything God asks us to do. We can do anything He asks of us, BUT it must be through HIS strength in us. When we come to the end of our resources and realize that we can't carry on any longer, He is our strength. When we acknowledge our own weaknesses and stop struggling in our own frail strength Christ's strength become available in us!

II Corinthians 12:9 also reminds us that God's grace is sufficient for whatever we face in life. As we acknowledge our own weaknesses, however, and fall in complete dependence on the Lord; His power is perfected and brought to fruition in the midst of our weakness. In fact, God delights to show His power in weak vessels such as us, because His glory is best shown in this way. What a glorious comfort and truth that becomes in our lives!

So dear caregiver, the Lord Jesus Christ invites you to come to Him when you feel weak, burdened, and weary. He is the source of rest and peace. He wants you to join yourself to Him, lean on Him, and learn from Him. The natural reaction for a caregiver is to become anxious and despairing when he or she sees a loved one deteriorate in health. It certainly was my reaction at times as a caregiver for my husband with a devastating neurological disease. God asks the caregiver, however, to leave it in His hands and to depend on His strength. (Matthew 11:28-30)

In closing I am going to leave a link below to a song by Stephen Curtis Chapman called “His Strength is Perfect. Just click on the link. I hope you find the song a blessing to you, dear caregiver. (There is an ad at the beginning which you will be able to skip over at a certain point.) May the Lord bless you, dear caregiver!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Peace in the Needs

Last time we discussed the “why?” questions that sometimes enters our minds in light of the difficulties that life presents us. We also discussed this in relationship to the heartaches and challenges which often accompany family caregiving. We came to the conclusion that we do not always understand why God allows certain things in our lives, but we know that He is much wiser than we are. We need to trust Him in these things and trust that He is transforming us into something beautiful for His kingdom through all these things.

Dear Christian caregiver, God has taken you along the path of family caregiving. The challenges of caregivng has heightened your awareness of your need for the Lord. Family caregiving may have placed you in circumstances which has made your perceived strengths useless and irrelevant. It may have also made you aware that your weaknesses are glaringly evident.

This is a good thing which has come from the difficulties of your caregiving experience, dear Christian caregiver. During these overwhelming desert like experiences in your life you are realizing your need for dependence on the Lord. This in turn has drawn you closer and closer to Him.

From that dependence on the Lord and closer relationship with Him perhaps you have discovered a new peace blossoming in your heart. This peace has come right in the midst of all the heartaches. You perhaps have discovered that needing the Lord and depending on Him is the key to knowing Him in a much more intimate way. This is the greatest gift you can receive, dear caregiver!

So can you make a sacrifice of praise and thanks for even these difficult times in your life, dear caregiver? Know that through these overwhelming challenges God is accomplishing His best work both in your life and in the life of your loved one. Will you trust Him with your needs this year? Will you grow in your intimacy with Him? Will you even thank Him for His work in your life? Will you find His peace this year?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Rest In Him This Year

We have entered a new year. Are you worried and nervous about what this new year will bring, dear caregiver, or instead of being anxious are you resting in the Lord and trusting Him? Will you trust the Lord only if your loved one’s health improves or he or she becomes completely well again, or will you trust the Lord even if your loved one’s health continues to deteriorate in this coming year?
In the book of Job in the Old Testament we read about a man who lost everything he owned and all his children in a series of disasters. On top of that he was afflicted with a horrible disease. Job had been living his life in a godly manner prior to all this, and yet he had to suffer all these things.
Do you ever wonder, dear Christian caregiver, why God has allowed the illness of your loved one for whom you are caring? Have you ever wondered why you have to go through all the heartaches and challenges of caring for your ill or disabled loved one? Have you ever wondered why you, a child of God, has to endure these trials?
In the book of Job in the Old Testament man, Job, began to ask these questions. God responded to Job in chapter 42. In effect God says, “Who are you to question My ways and My plans? Why should you question Me without knowledge-without understanding My wisdom? You have no right to question Me. Your knowledge is too limited to understand My ways. You do not have My power and wisdom.” Later Job said to God that he had spoken of things he did not understand and of things that were way beyond his understanding. These were things only God could understand, and Job repented of questioning God’s ways.
I do not understand why my husband was afflicted with his devastating neurological disease. I do not know why he had to go through the disabilities and indignities of his disease. I do not know why I had to go through all the heartaches of being his caregiver and eventually losing him to death. I must trust God, however, that He knew what He was doing no matter how difficult life became during those caregiving years and during the months of grief since my husband’s death.
The Bible reminds us that we can trust in the Lord, for He has and never will forsake us. His ways are perfect even when we do not understand His ways. He is our shield, and we can take refuge in Him. I can trust in Him and not be afraid of what the future holds. Even in difficult times He is my strength and song.
I do know that I have been strengthened in my faith, and my relationship with the Lord is more precious than ever because of all that has happened to me. God has been my help and support through it all. I needed and still need to trust in Him alone. I don’t understand all God’s ways; but I do know He is a wise, faithful, and loving God. I do know that He is worthy of my trust.
Christian caregiver, you do not know what this coming year holds for you and your loved one, but you do know that the Lord God holds your future. You may not understand His ways, but He asks you to trust Him. His ways are not always your ways, but He knows what He is doing in what He allows in your life. Rest in Him in this coming year.