Monday, October 27, 2014

Loving Care

by Betty Jackson

Swifter than a weaver’s shuttle...(Job 7:6). That is the pace with which life passes. There are so many things we want to accomplish, and so little time.

Life brings challenges at each stage. 
For most of us the last stage may be the most frightening. As I watched my mother during those “dying days” my heart ached for her, knowing that she was facing that battle of pain and terror on her own; though we did the best we could to provide gentle assistance for the daily rigors. How will the rest of us face those last days—those evil days? (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

What can we do to encourage those we love who are facing those days of rapid decline? 
Poor health often hinders worship attendance, but spiritual food is so needful, more than ever. How can we have the strength for the significant demands we must meet in caring for those we love, whether our babies, an afflicted child, or elderly parent. How can we spiritually encourage the one for whom we provide care?

It would be wise to establish a habit for short devotionals with your ill loved one, if that is possible. The caregiver, as well as the "patient," needs spiritual strength to cope with the significant challenges, frustrations and fatigue. 

Your adult loved one may resent your efforts at a formal devotional. It may be helpful to simply share your own study conversationally, rather than in a formal study format. That will lessen the appearance of your “preaching at” the “patient.” Pray together on a regular basis—at meal time, and bedtime. One of the most meaningful prayers I shared with my mother was the last one. We asked God for forgiveness in the ways we had offended one another. And we did do that!  

There will be regrets. 
Recognize that you are human. You will wear down, and say or do things, inadvertently, that will irritate your dear one. There may be times you must rebuke for unseemly behavior. That is so uncomfortable, if you are overseeing the care of a parent. Seek how to do this in a way that is not condescending.  You may err. You need to ask for forgiveness, not only from God, but from your loved one. Unless the patient is mentally incapacitated, this will help as you deal with regrets after that person’s death. You will need to learn to forgive yourself.

Caretaker support is a must.
Support is needed so badly for the caretaker during these difficult days. An understanding and patient mate is such a help in keeping things in perspective, listening as you vent, giving you opportunity to attend worship at least once on Sunday, or grocery shop. Allow others to help you by giving you time off. If possible, hire some help. Take advantage of every aid you can to help yourself. If you can afford it, use a housekeeping service. Even teenaged youngsters can help with chores.

It is common for one family member to be the caretaker.
Siblings commonly neglect their duties. Some cannot help because of health matters or job restrictions. You will need to accept the reality of what it is, and not let it fester. Whenever you are desperate for a break, call a sibling to see if there is any way he or she could give you respite for even a few days. If you don't ask, you may not get the help you really need.

Towards the end...
Towards the end you may suffer severe sleep deprivation. Nap or rest if you possibly can; try to protect your health. It is a given that you sacrifice some well-being over the months of caregiving. However, after the end, you will be rewarded, knowing that you have done all that you could (Mark 14:8). 

You will grieve.
You will grieve, forgiving yourself and others for their lack of support. You will be able to look back at the difficult times, knowing that neither you nor your loved one wanted to hurt the other. So on that dying day, you can let go of the past, and look forward to serving in other ways that the Lord may have in store. And if both of you are faithful Christians, you will find comfort in knowing you will be reunited, without all the sorrows of the flesh (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). You will rejoice together in the light of God's throne.

Recommended Reading

Jackson, Wayne. What is the Meaning of Corban?

Picture Copyright: <a href=''>victor69 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Monday, October 13, 2014

Starve Out Bitterness and Feast On Betterness

by Sandy Jackson

Each of us has partaken of meals of strife and turmoil in our lives at one point or another. Those morsels of struggles may have come in bite size portions; or we may have experienced scooted up to the table, filling our bellies with heaping amounts of difficulties that have overflowed our plates of daily living. Some of these troubles we spooned up ourselves by our own poor decisions or those around us have made. But we also experience some distresses that just land in our laps with no fault of our own. The troubles we face through life do not have to be the sum total of what we are made of. How we deal with the tasteless and sometimes bitter experiences we have been served can make our lives palatable and even teach the world this abbreviated life is not the totality of our being. 

Here are 4 things we can stick a fork in and enjoy the bountiful blessings of this life  as we deal with our portions of adversities.

1.  Decide TODAY what you want to be full of...Bitterness or Betterness.  

Happiness is a choice. Your thoughts belong to YOU. They are in your possession. Be confident, in spite of poor circumstances that you have to deal with that no person has control over your state of mind except YOU. This takes practice and determination by filling our hearts with what will bring us true happiness. The menu is in God's Word and we need to be gorging on the righteous instruction therein. "Lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul." Deuteronomy 11:18

2.  "If you want to soar like eagles, you better not be gobbling around with the turkeys." 

Eagles will spread their wings and face a storm using the winds to glide them to higher places. The turkey will flap around in circles then flee nervously to the coop with his feathered friends. I have never yet seen an eagle on someone's dinner plate! Surround yourself with spiritually positive people. Gather with those that have the same goal as you. Lot was caught up into the cares of the world and moved to a population of unrighteousness. He ended up fleeing for his life losing even loved ones that did not keep their eyes on God the Almighty. The instructions in Proverbs on choosing friends still applies today, and we would benefit greatly by adhering to those wise words. 

3.  Set a goal each day of encouraging others who are suffering even in the midst of our own anguish. 

What an example we have in our Lord Jesus who while hanging on the cross and bearing the most cruel actions imaginable did not dwell on his own misfortunes of being treated unfairly. Yet, Christ outpoured his compassion even on the very ones spewing mockery and harsh spittle from their lips into his face. 

Often, we hold grudges against those who have hurt us in some way. Will we forget those actions...probably never, but they can be tucked in the back of our minds as vague memories with effort on our part. More times than not....we are the ones keeping the torture alive in our hearts by stewing over the pain and wishing ill will to those individuals who have hurt us. We may bear scars of misfortune for the remainder of our lives, but we do not have to open the wounds afresh day after day causing bleeding to our souls. Allow the Great Physician to work on your scabs by spending time in his word everyday. 

4. Invest yourself in deep reliance on God. 

I read a sad note recently by a lady obviously experiencing extreme stress in her life. She stated, "I am having a hard time believing prayer works."  I am the first to admit that waiting on the Lord to answer my petitions is the hardest thing to do in this life. We live in such a "microwave" minded world. We want answers and we want them NOW.  Here, I would strongly recommend an excellent article to read regarding this heart wrenching subject, "Seven Laws to Pray By" ( We do not fully understand how God intervenes in our life, because we operate on a purely human vantage point. But I can have confidence that he DOES look out for us ( Isaiah 40:29-31, Phillippines 4:19)   I want to reap benefits as the faithful people such as Hannah, Paul, Noah, Abraham, Elijah, and countless other prayerful souls did. God has yet to go back on any of his promises, and I can count on Him providing for my every need. What a rich study would be on the promises made and kept by the Creator who made mankind and cares for him. Highlight them in your Bibles and hearts!

These points are not to diminish the stresses of life because I know they are very real. Divorce, cancer, death, financial struggles, Ebola, ISIS and other warfare are real. But we have all witnessed the different ways people handle these stresses. None comes out of trials unscathed, but we can be made stronger and maybe even help someone else that is going through turbulent times. 

If you really want to feast on betterness and starve out bitterness, please gift yourself or someone you know that is dealing with a tough life situation with an excellent book, Stronger Than Ever, by Jason Jackson. Here is the link to where you can find You will not regret the small price you will pay for the encouragement.