When aging parents need help, remember to “honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you” (Deuteronomy 5:16).
But be warned: Caregiving is emotionally and physically wearing.
Every caregiver — whether caring for an aging parent, a sick spouse or a permanently disabled child — says at some time, “I am alone. Nobody knows or cares. I am isolated and trapped.”
If you believe yourself alone, you have plenty of company. Moses thought himself alone when an angel joined him (Exodus 3:1–2).
Paul’s friends deserted him, but he reported, “The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength” (2 Timothy 4:16–17).
Jeremiah’s enemies threw him into an empty cistern. An Ethiopian eunuch rescued him (Jeremiah 38:6–13).
Caregivers may feel insignificant when missionary friends bring exotic reports, but the person you care for is evidence that your labor for God has borne fruit. A stroke victim may walk again with your help. You may patiently feed someone three times a day for years. Your ailing loved one is your joy and crown (1 Thessalonians 2:19–20). God looks for faithfulness.
Caregiving can be a source of personal growth. The more you know about a disease, the better you can manage it. Caregivers learn for the good of their care receivers.
But learn for yourself too. You may find the new knowledge intellectually stimulating. You may help others; they may help you.
In Psalm 18:28–29, David appeals to the Lord to keep his lamp burning, and then says that with God’s help he can scale a wall. Caregivers, think that over the next time you feel overwhelmed.
2 Timothy 4:16–17
1 Thessalonians 2:19–20
Former caregiver Martha Evans Sparks, a Wilmore (Ky.) FMC member, is the author of five books (three on caregiving).