None of us escape suffering in its varied forms and often in long-term effects. As a caretaker, fatigue and weariness can be constant companions. It has been my experience, fatigue will compel me to be gentle with myself, while pushing me to transfer my burdens to the Lord. Despite my impatience and limitations, this Scripture gives hope that it is ultimately faith in the Lord that will carry me each day.
Encouragement comes from Madeleine L’Engle, “Faith lies on the other side of reason. Faith is what makes life bearable with all of its tragedies and ambiguities and sudden, startling joys.” Miners refine gold not to harm it, but to purify it and make it more valuable. When faith is tested, some may respond, ‘Why is God punishing me?’ This is not an image of a loving God whose intent for us is the purifying of our faith. Our relationship and prayer assure us that God always keeps His promises and faith will bring us closer, supporting us through every circumstance, plus many a long day.
This will be common if you are caring for someone with dementia, as it creates further difficulty for the caregiver, as a patient can live years in a dependent state. Most burdensome is having to manage behavioral symptoms – wandering, paranoia, refusing care, anxiety, plus. God sends us help through people and we are called to use the resources available, particularly through the Alzheimer’s Association https://www.alz.org/ Also reaching out to others, including friends and family – even volunteers who can step in before you have a breaking point.
Discouragement can make us feel hopeless and drain us of the energy to keep up even everyday tasks. Jesus was about to face the cross and yet spent the last hours helping His friends, by urging them to trust in God. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in Me.” John 14:1. These words also contain a vital strategy: ‘Hold on to your faith. Trust that My Father and I won’t abandon you.’ Reminding ourselves that God knows our situation, feels our pain and nothing can separate us from His love, enhance our faith and trust.
When we focus on suffering, misery can grow. When we focus on faith, on God’s ability to heal and redeem, hope grows. May our eyes see that suffering produces something valuable on the other side of pain. There is meaning to everything. It is hard to look at our loved ones and see suffering (not to mention our own suffering,) yet God’s love can rejuvenate us from within. Can we look at our lives with compassion, not only for our loved ones, but for ourselves? Responses always welcome!