Give Us This Day: Daily Hope for Caregivers

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780898272581
  • Publisher: Wesleyan Publishing House
  • Publication date: 5/28/2003
  • Pages: 152
  • Product dimensions: 4.52 (w) x 6.92 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Give Us This Day

Daily Hope for Caregivers
By Martha Evans Sparks

wesleyan publishing house

Copyright © 2003 The Wesleyan Church
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-89827-258-0


Chapter One

Self-Worth

Esteem

Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.... Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. -Psalm 86:1, 4

Point of Hope

What I am doing today is important to God.

Increased medical knowledge is bringing longer life spans but not always perfect health. As a result, many caregivers, usually women, spend much of their time looking after incapacitated family members-aging parents, a spouse with Alzheimer's, or perhaps a child with a chronic illness. No matter what the ailment, caregiving is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. I know because I did it for many years.

As a young adult, my husband, Bert, developed Type 1 diabetes. He had a normal life span and a productive career, managing the disease successfully for more than forty years. From the first day of our marriage, keeping Bert healthy was a team effort. That effort began with God, whose mercy spared Bert the catastrophic complications of diabetes. Next came Bert's superb self-discipline. He never broke diabetic exercise and diet rules.

And there I was, staying at home to coordinate it all. Sometimes I thought myself insignificant. Atsuch times, how comforting it was to cry to God the words of today's scripture, "Hear, O Lord," knowing that He heard, loved, and understood.

Point of Help

I will remember that I am important to God; even the hairs of my head are numbered (Matt. 10:30).

Bert's Prayer

We go to church and listen to the gospel. We know the words, but we have not made them a part of our being. Our Lord and our God, let the truth break upon me afresh, as if it had been concealed up to now. Let me experience the joy that comes to one who, for the first time, learns that somebody cares. Teach me to care.

Confidence

But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" And God said, "I will be with you." -Exodus 3:11-12

Point of Hope

God's children know to whose family they belong and are proud of it.

God does not desert His redeemed child to the identity-crisis quagmire. In fact, the entire Bible is an elaboration of God's answer to our "Who am I?" questions.

"Who am I?" said Adam and Eve. God had to reply that they were sinners (Genesis 3:16-19). But He promised to rescue them from the evil they had embraced (Genesis 3:15b).

"Who am I?" asked Moses, and God replied, "I will be with you" (Joshua 1:5). "Who am I?" pondered Mary, and the angel responded, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God" (Luke 1:30). "Who am I?" inquired Paul. God's answer rings across the centuries, "You are my ambassador in chains" (Ephesians 6:20).

Caregivers working one-on-one may think that our sphere of influence is so small that we cannot be useful as anything, much less as God's ambassadors. I used to think that I was wearing my life away to no purpose as a caregiver. Finally, it dawned on me that God is not impressed with size. God looks for faithfulness in the task assigned.

The psalmist began with an embittered soul. Then he discovered that God was always with him, holding his right hand (Ps. 73:21-23). I must have worth if God bothers to hold my hand. "You guide me with your counsel," he says to God, "and afterward you will take me into glory" (Ps. 73:24).

Point of Help

I will give thanks for my identity as a servant of the Lord.

Bert's Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, this is the day the Lord has made. I shall rejoice and be glad in it. On some days it is hard to find a good reason for rejoicing, but rejoice I will. You created this day, and You have never done a vain thing. Let there be something I can do to make it an even better day.

Assistance

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." -2 Corinthians 12:9

Point of Hope

Caregivers are never the stars of the show, but their support is priceless.

In her classic book, The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life, Hannah Whitall Smith tells of visiting an institution for crippled children. Attendants were teaching the children to exercise in time to music. Most of them had little muscle control; they produced a random, awkward performance.

Yet one little girl, Mrs. Smith noticed, performed the exercises perfectly. This child was so severely handicapped that she could do nothing by herself. An instructor stood behind her, moving her arms in exactly the right pattern and in time to the music.

Is the lesson too simplistic to need explanation? Even Jesus said He did nothing on His own, but He acted or spoke only as the Father instructed Him (John 5:30; 8:28). Perhaps the cliché "Let go and let God" is true after all.

Paul was telling the Corinthians about his thorn in the flesh when he said that God's power was perfectly shown in Paul's weakness. Once, faced with a physical restriction of my own, I asked Bert how to cope with it emotionally. His two-word answer still rings in my mind: "Calm acceptance." Paul would have agreed. "I will boast ... gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me," he said (2 Cor. 12:9). The mark of Bert's faith was his calm acceptance of the demands diabetes made upon him every day. How could I do less than my best to help him?

Point of Help

Although I cannot fully understand my loved one's physical hardships, I will do all I can to assist.

Bert's Prayer

Loving Lord, may I never look upon myself with contempt, for to do so is to look with contempt upon the handiwork of God. You have created me for a purpose, and, whatever my weakness, I am equal to the achievement of that end. Give me vision to see my appointed task and sense enough to perform it.

Self-Effacement

The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike. -1 Samuel 30:24

Point of Hope

Caregiving is a hidden ministry, but one that is known to God.

David and six hundred of his men went out to recapture their wives and property, stolen by the enemy while David and his army were away. On their way to do battle, two hundred of David's men became too exhausted to continue. They were left to watch over the baggage while the other four hundred found the enemy and won back their wives and property.

Some of the four hundred said it was not fair for the two hundred who stayed behind to share in the spoils of victory. David disagreed. He declared that both tasks were equally important; all would share alike.

My husband always went to bat for me when someone asked what my career was. "She takes care of me," he would say smilingly. How I loved him for it. The person who asked usually did not realize how literally true that was. Without me to have meals of the proper kind ready at the right time, three times a day, nearly 365 days a year, it would not have been possible for Bert to be so productive in his profession.

Let us never fall victim to Satan's whisper that because we are "just caregivers" our lives do not amount to anything. David reflected God's attitude, I think, when he said that those who stayed with the supplies were worthy of the same reward as those who went into battle. After all, the victory was God's, not theirs (1 Sam. 30:23).

Point of Help

I will do what I can to make my loved one's life as normal as possible because I know that God deems my labor important.

Bert's Prayer

Dear heavenly Father, whether the tasks assigned to me are large or small is not important. The question is, how do I perform them? Give me a spirit of gratitude that I may be thankful for the task, whatever it is, and that I may do what I have been called upon to do. Give me a clean heart and a willingness to serve.

Refocusing

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know ... the hope to which he has called you. -Ephesians 1:17-18

Point of Hope

When we are sorry for ourselves, God gives us not sympathy but a new outlook.

Caregivers for the chronically ill are prone to a condition called the Why-Me-Lord Blues. When people in the Bible felt this brand of self-pity, the Lord gave them a new revelation of Himself and sent them back to work.

Elijah fled from Queen Jezebel in utter discouragement. Elijah concluded that he was the only true worshiper of Jehovah left (1 Kings 19:10). God demonstrated His power to the prophet in ways Elijah never forgot. After wind, earthquake, and fire, God's presence came in "a gentle whisper." Then God gave Elijah specific tasks: the anointing of two new kings and a new prophet (1 Kings 19:11-16).

Four days after Lazarus died, his sister Martha looked straight into the face of God and said it was hopeless. Jesus looked right back, and His words gave her a new idea of what constitutes victory in daily life. "I am the resurrection and the life," He said (John 11:25). She was given a task: believe.

The disciples, cowering behind closed doors one Sunday evening, thought Jesus was a ghost when He suddenly appeared. They soon had new work to do. "You are witnesses of these things," Jesus said and sent them to preach His gospel all over the world (Luke 24:36-49).

Point of Help

I will replenish my strength today by seeking a fresh vision of God.

Bert's Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, it is right that we should search for wisdom, but too often we have searched in the wrong places. The only source of wisdom is in You, Eternal God. Let our search begin with praise and thanks to You. O God, as we claim Your promises, made to us, let us do so with lives that are committed to Your will.

Self-respect

Those who grieve ... will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. -Isaiah 61:3

Point of Hope

No work is more important than that of demonstrating what God can do in my life.

Jesus confirmed His claim to be Messiah by reading the first part of Isaiah, chapter 61, to worshipers at the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth. It was His job description. He was "to preach good news to the poor ... proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18-19).

That sounds good, but how could Jesus' job description possibly apply to me as a caregiver? I cannot go out of the house without complicated preparations. I have no personal freedom. I mourn when I remember the person my loved one was before illness struck. I can't see beyond the day's first hurdle. What freedom? What gladness?

The passage does not say you will become rich, beautiful, and free from care if you follow the Lord. It does mention a specific calling: to be an oak "of righteousness, a planting of the Lord." The reason I am to grow into that oak is not to show how strong I am, fluttering my foliage with a painted-on smile. It is "for the display of his splendor" (Isa. 61:3b).

When I'm feeling like a mowed-over sapling (as most caregivers do from time to time), I need to remember that Jesus believes I have the potential for growing into a mighty oak, worthy to display His splendor. That's why He planted me here.

Point of Help

I will thank God that my true worth is based on what He thinks of me, not what I think of myself.

Bert's Prayer

The more difficult the task, my Lord and my God, the greater is the opportunity it brings. I pray not for an easier life but for increased adequacy for the circumstances with which I am now surrounded. May I not rejoice at the failures of others, but give me the strength and the wisdom to rise above the obstacles that are left in the way.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Give Us This Day by Martha Evans Sparks Copyright © 2003 by The Wesleyan Church . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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