By Karen Kogler
Seven years ago, my husband and I invited his then 90-year-old mother to leave San Diego and move into our Chicago-area home. We anticipated challenges, and they came, but by the grace of God, we are managing well. Mom needs a lot of care, but she is cheerful and blessed with relatively good health.
What I did not anticipate was the ongoing education God has provided since her arrival. He has opened my eyes to the many, many caregivers around me and to their stories. I now fully understand the sentiments, “Caregiving is like being in prison” and “Caregiving is the hardest job in the world.” I’m also learning to see life through the eyes of those who are nearing the end of their earthly days, those who must rely on others for their care. They, too, are in a type of prison.
But most of all, over and over, I’ve seen how richly God’s Word speaks to those of us living with daily challenges that test our limits.
Whether your “prison” is caregiving for the elderly or a houseful of young children; whether your “hardest job in the world” is the ongoing battle with frailty, disability, or illness, I pray that this devotion will help you more fully understand God’s daily blessings.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake (Psalm 23:1–3 ESV).
It’s such a beautiful, peaceful picture: sheep resting in a green, grassy meadow and drinking from a gentle stream, while the shepherd stands guard.
But a caregiver’s day knows little of peace and rest. On top of the daily routine of meds and meals, there are her requests for help, watching out for her safety, and the trips to the doctor. Between all that, you need to squeeze in some time for household chores and, maybe, a few minutes for yourself. The needs never end, day and night. And they’re only likely to grow in the future.
David, the writer of this psalm, knew the hard work of caring for others in his roles as shepherd, military commander, and king. He knew hunger, exhaustion, frustration, difficulties, and fear. In all his roles, he looked to God to be his Shepherd, to sustain and nourish and protect him, to give him peace.
Through David’s psalm, God says to us, “Let me be your caregiver, your shepherd. I will provide what you need. My Word will give you green pastures and refreshing water. Even in the middle of your many responsibilities, I will bring you peace: a moment to listen to a bird sing while watching leaves dance in the breeze; a helpful nurse; some soothing music; a phone call with a friend; a support group. Put your needs into my hands.”
God put you on this path of caregiving. God brought you and the one whom you care for together. Caregiving is a path of righteousness, of right-living. You are doing it, not only for the sake of the person who receives your care, but also for God’s sake. This task came from his hand, and he promises to restore you and sustain you.
Beyond your physical needs, your soul needs care and restoration, too. God can and will fill you with faith, increase your hope and contentment, give you joy and love. He gives you all of these so you can share them with the one for whom you care.
One day, both of you will be completely restored and renewed, in every way, when you have been called home to heaven. In the meantime, he walks with you, an arm around each of you.
Prayer: Good Shepherd, you know caregiving. Teach it to me as I walk this path. Help me do each task “for your name’s sake,” the way you’d want me to, the way I’d do it for you. Thank you for being beside me today and every day. Amen.
Are you a caregiver? In the comments section below, share how God is leading you today. What are your challenges? your joys?
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