Sunday, June 30, 2019

Lessons We Need to Learn

This post is a chapter from my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.)

When we are stripped of the things we are depending on outside of the Lord and when we are stripped of thinking we are strong in ourselves, we begin to trust and lean on the Lord instead. We begin to see how weak we really are without the Lord. In this place of desperate clinging to the Lord, our acknowledgment of our weakness makes room for the power of God in our lives. It also makes our love for God become more intense. Care-giving-with all of it's overwhelming challenges-and the years since my husband's death has taught me the lesson of how weak I am in myself and how desperately I need the Lord. It may have done the same for you, dear caregiver. That is actually a good place to be, for here you reach out for God's all powerful strength.

Fear and love for the Lord do not belong together, because love that flows from God and is perfected by God drives out and removes fears (I John 4:18). So often during my care-giving days for my husband I succumbed to fear about the future and sometimes even fear of what that day would bring. Yet the Lord commands us over and over in Scripture to not be afraid.

The Lord also holds us when we are overwhelmed by life's trials. He holds us and comforts us and loves us during those times. The Lord knows your care-giving sorrows, dear caregiver, and He loves and comforts you through the process. You know He loves you so much, because He sacrificed His very life for you on the cross. He has proven His love for you, dear caregiver.

In Scripture, the devil is portrayed as a roaring lion who wants to devour us. The devil knows when we are at our lowest and weakest and loves to try to prey on us in those moments. God's advice is to humble ourselves before Him and not be anxious, because He cares for us and will protect us. His advice is to also stand firm in our faith (I Peter 5:6-9a). It is so easy in the care-giving scenario to become discouraged. Yet the Lord has promised to be with us, if we turn to Him.

Dear caregiver, trust in the Lord's strength, not your own. When your recognize your own weakness and lean on the Lord's strength, you are strong. Do not fear, for the Lord is with you. Rest in His love. Also avail yourself of His comforting arms around you. Finally, be alert for the devil's attempts to discourage you. Turn to the Lord instead.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Wait On the Lord

(This post is yet another chapter from my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.

About a year after my husband was diagnosed with his disease, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Here are some of the thoughts and prayers that were running through my mind after my diagnosis of breast cancer on July 18, 2007: 

"I don't understand, Lord. You have been faithful to me in numerous times of difficulty in the past. This latest trial in my life seems a bit overwhelming, however, Lord. Was not dealing with the emotional stress of my husband's disabling neurological disease enough, Lord? Did I have to receive a diagnosis of breast cancer also?"

Of one thing I was certain, however. Even though I did not always understand His ways, I knew my Lord did not make mistakes. I could count on His promises in His Holy Word, His eternal love for me, and His infinite wisdom. I could count on these things even when feeling emotionally downcast.  I could count on the fact that God's compassion for me would never fail. He, in His faithfulness, would have new blessings for me every day. One other thing of which I was certain was that I had nothing or no one else I can cling to but the Lord. He alone was able to be my hope. I needed to wait on the Lord to work out His plan in my life. (Lamentations 3:20b-26) I also believed that somehow God would make a place of refreshment and joy out of the deep valleys of my life. He was indeed the only One but the capable One to help me proceed in His strength in facing life's huge hurdles (Psalm 84:6-7).

We have the certainty of the Lord's faithfulness and love even in the harshest of circumstances. In the Old Testament book of Lamentations, the author was lamenting or mourning the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. Hence, he was feeling very discouraged and depressed. Have you ever felt like the author of Lamentations?  When we begin to feel like the author of Lamentations felt, we are beginning to focus on ourselves instead of on the Lord. The truth of the matter is that there is always the certainty of the Lord's presence, even in the worse of circumstances.  It is not necessary for our cirucmstances to change to experience the Lord's joy and peace in our hearts and lives.  We just need to take the focus off of ourselves and our problems and focus on the Lord.

When we are feeling discouraged by a difficult set of circumstances in our lives, we must remember the Lord's love for us and the Lord's awesome promises in His Holy Word. The Lord's river of mercy and love never runs dry. People, material possessions, and our own resources will often fail us. The Lord, however, will never fail us! His love and faithfulness is with us moment by moment and day by day. How precious it is to awaken each morning knowing that the Lord will be walking beside us each day, as we face the daily stresses and challenges. Wait on the Lord, dear caregiver. Waiting on the Lord means we are resting our entire trust in the Lord for time and eternity. We can trust completely in the Lord's unfailing love! Praise His name!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Father's Day

Today is Father's Day in the United States, so I am taking a bit of a break from my regular care-giving format.  I am thankful today for my Dad who showed an immense amount of patience and perseverance in his life.  He patiently endured the struggles that most farmers endure.  He always put his trust in the Lord during those moments.  I also saw his patience, perseverance, and trust in the Lord during those years of major health problems.  I still have a postcard that he sent me while in the hospital.  He wrote this that day, "I feel a little blue, but there is One Almighty above who loves and cares."  My Dad always read Scripture and prayed at the table as well.  His example helped me to persevere during some very difficult moments in my life like caring for my husband, fighting breast cancer, and losing my husband to death.

Today I also am thankful for my husband, Wayne, who was the father to my sons.  His Godly example to his sons and his gentle and loving nature were wonderful examples to all who knew him.  He was a hard worker, and loved his family very much.  He also persevered until his death though some very difficult health problems.  In many ways he reminded me of my Dad.

Finally, I am thankful for Bob who is to become my husband in a few weeks.  He is a loving and concerned father to his daughters and also grandpa to his grandchildren.  He is very concerned about their welfare.  He also cares about my children and their welfare.  He further loves me, and is my rock in so many ways.  He often reminds me of God's promises to us and of our blessings.  He has become God's wonderful blessing in my life.

Today, dear reader, thank God for the blessing of Godly men in your life as well.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Him In You, Interceding For You

(This post is another chapter from my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.)

Family care-giving is one of life's most difficult and challenging  experiences.  I know this to be a fact, because I was a family caregiver.  Yet the Bible tells us to actually delight in difficulties. (II Corinthians 12:10)  When I was a caregiver, I was thankful if I could just survive and have strength for the day.  Why would anyone welcome trials and difficulties in their lives?  Well, for one thing it gives up an opportunity to trust the Lord.  It also gives us an opportunity to experience His sufficient grace and strength in us.  (II Corinthians 12:9)

Family care-giving is often discouraging and physically and emotionally draining.  It can often bring on feelings of hopelessness and despair.  In spite of this, dear Christian caregiver, you have the same power in you, as it took to raise Jesus Christ from the dead.  You have resurrection power in you, dear caregiver!  (Ephesians 1:18-20)  Don't concentrate on your own puny insufficient strength.  Concentrate on the Lord's mighty strength in you, dear caregiver!

After Jesus arose from the dead He was seated in the heavenly realms at the Father's right hand.  He has all authority and power at His disposal.  (Ephesians 1:20b-23)  He delights in placing that same power that belongs to Him in you, dear caregiver!  Also His love for you is deeper and wider and higher than you can begin to imagine!  (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Finally, as Jesus, the Son of God, is sitting next to the Father; He is interceding for you, dear Christian caregiver.  The Son of God actually lives to intercede for you and for all His people! (Hebrews 7:25b)  He knows how weak and tired you often feel in the whole care-giving scenario.  So He gives you His power and love and intercedes for you to the Father.  Picture the Son sitting next to the Father talking with the Father about your needs and the needs of your loved one!  Isn't that an awesome thought, dear caregiver?  Revel in that thought and rest in Him!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Things Too Wonderful for Me to Know

I recently completed reading through the book of Job in the Bible.  It is a book I have read more than once in the past as well.  There are many profound insights in the book of Job especially in the last chapter, Job 42.

Job says to God in verse one of chapter 42, "I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours is thwarted."  Accepting God's plan in all things is sometimes difficult when going through difficult circumstances.  I found this to be true when I watched my husband, Wayne, deteriorate step by step in his physical abilities.  I found this to be true also when I loss him to death over eight years ago.  Yet it is also true, as God provided a new person to love in my life.  It is also true when he provides daily blessings in my life even in the stressful and sad moments.

Job did not know what God was doing in his life when he sent a whole series of very difficult trials.  Yet in the last chapter of the book of Job, Job comes to the realization that it is not his place to question God.  He says in Job 42:3, "Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me."   God does not owe us explanations for what He allows in our lives.  All we need to know is that God knows what He is doing and that He is a God who is always good.

Later on in the last chapter on Job, Job comes to realize that he has developed greater intimacy with God because of his trials.  Job says in Job 42: 5, "My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen you."  In effect, Job is saying this, " In the past I knew things in my head about You, but now my heart knows You in an intimate way that I never experienced before.  This came about because of the trials You allowed in my life."

The same experience that Job had of growing in intimacy with God through trials can be our experience as well,  We can trust God, because He always provides for us even in times of trial and He is a God who is always there for us through both our joys and our trials.