MsDora, a former teacher and Christian counselor, presents practical Scriptural principles for joyful everyday living.
Some people choose to be caregivers, and they prepare themselves by becoming professionals in the healthcare industry. They receive training on how to deal with the physical and emotional challenges which come with the role. Still, they look forward to the end of each shift, so they can reboot their bodies and refresh their minds.
Other people have the role of caregiver thrust upon them when family members become old, sick or disabled. Some have no training, and no end of shift. They need heaps of physical and emotional help--and just as important, spiritual help.
Here are six great Bible verses which can encourage caregivers--trained and untrained alike-- while they share care and compassion with their patients.
From the start, the caregiver needs a healthy dose of cheer (or joy, according to the other Bible versions). Without it, a mood of despair can easily set in at the sight of physical decline, even medications, wheelchairs and other objects associated with adverse health conditions. To escape the related overwhelming stresses, the caregiver can choose to remain connected to his inner Source of Joy.
The verse ties unconditional cheer to two habits—continual prayer and constant gratitude. These habits empower an individual to focus on blessings like contentment, forgiveness and hope which empower the spirit of cheer. They enable the caregiver to keep joy in tact despite the external circumstances.
In recent years, many missionary-minded individuals are traveling great distances to feed, clothe, and minister healing to needy people. This is commendable. The ministry projects are motivated by kindness, but they are not without the glamor of travel, the enjoyment of group fellowship and the experience of different foods, languages and customs.
Caregiving, the practice of kindness to family members and other patients who cannot pay full price, is kindness for kindness sake. Often there is no tangible incentive, which makes it all the more important to remember that God (the King) notices the kindness and considers it a kindness done to Him—no less than the kindness demonstrated on the mission field.
Real kindness begins at home, among relatives who were once the caregivers and need help now, and among neighbors who have no other help.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible explains that it is God who implants patience in the heart. Difficulties like those experienced by a caregiver, strengthen, exercise and increase it. There is no wishing away the difficulties, when we know that they are “divinely appointed . . . for a definite period, and are not sent without abundant promises of ‘songs in the night.’"
The patience of caregivers is stretched and expanded when the patients behave differently than expected, and require more attention than the caregiver is prepared to give. It is then that the caregiver discovers what he is made of—what measure of kindness, goodness, faithfulness and other segments of the fruit of the Spirit. In the process, the character grows in preparation for bigger assignments. There is no self-development without development of patience.
This perfect peace is what Paul refers to as the peace which is beyond human comprehension (Philippians 4:7). Who can understand the calmness of a caregiver who is tired, but not allowed to rest because the patient keeps calling? Or, the caregiver who continues to speak gently to a demented patient who is verbally abusive?
According to the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary, it is God who keeps (guards like a well-garrisoned stronghold) the peace secure so that nothing can touch it. The caregiver keeps his or her thoughts focused on God as the Peace Giver, and He empowers the peace to remain functional.
Only God can enable the graces necessary for the caregiver to perform effectively and remain sane. Only He can supply supernatural help for the task. That is good reason to surrender self and all human capabilities to Him in perfect trust.
As a caregiver for my mother who is an Alzheimer’s patient, it is difficult to keep schedules, to spend time away from the house, to get help from other family members, to watch my mother endure the despair of memory loss and confusion. My joy, my patience, my strength and all the other graces I need are dependent on my trust in God to supply them.
My prayer and meditation altar have become increasingly important, for there is where I experience renewal like the replacement of eagles wings. It is there I gain the hope that I will survive the assignment with physical and mental ability beyond human expectation.
Whenever someone warns me of the damaging effects that the caregiver can suffer, the warning reminds me that it is time to renew my faith and trust in God.
As with all the other characteristics, the caregiver’s strength and energy comes from a connection with the Divine Source. The God who gives the assignment is the same God who supplies the strength. No request for more energy will take Him by surprise.
Caregivers who accept the caregiving assignment as God’s purpose for their lives will rely on God, rather than solely on their skills, to make their efforts efficient. Exhaustion will serve as a reminder that God's strength works more powerfully in human weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The wise caregiver is also aware that God supplies rest as part of the process by which He renews strength. "This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: 'Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.'" (Isaiah 30:15). That's physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strength from the Source of all help.
© 2012 Dora Weithers