There is a picture on my phone that is hard for me to look at. It’s of me lying on the sofa with our four-year-old daughter lying on my chest. She’s completely bundled up in a thick, furry blanket. It wasn’t a cold day, but because of how sick the cancer had made her, it was the only way she was comfortable.
I remember feeling exhausted that day. And overwhelmed. And sad. So sad. Deep in my heart, I asked God tough questions about my child’s suffering. I wondered what the days ahead would look like. I lamented the fact that I really didn’t want to be in that caregiving position. After all, caregiving is hard. Not only do we grieve the suffering of our loved one, but we also process our own losses. Caregiving requires us to lay down our preferences and plans and pick up the holy calling of meeting the needs of another.
Caregiving also means keeping. Keeping appointments and medicine schedules. Keeping doctor’s numbers and medical details. Keeping up with cleaning, cooking, and other family members’ needs. Keeping track, keeping up, keeping on top of.
In the marathon of caregiving, we might hit a point where we look around and think: In all my caregiving, who cares for me?
The God Who Cares for Caregivers
In Ezekiel 34, God’s people were being cared for and led by leaders who were wicked. They did not deal compassionately with the broken hearted. They did not come alongside those who were suffering and seek to strengthen and protect them. The Lord calls out these leaders, and then promises that one day he will remove those leaders and he himself would be the perfect caregiver of his people.
“Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them… I will feed them… There they shall lie down in good grazing land… I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep… I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak…” (Ezekiel 34:11-16).
When we start reading through the gospels and studying Jesus’ encounters with the sick and injured, we begin to see how these promises are fulfilled in and through Christ Jesus.
- When we read how Jesus walked Jairus home while he grieved the death of his young daughter… we see the Lord seeking his sheep and rescuing them. “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst’” (John 6:35).
- When we study the words of comfort and truth that Jesus spoke to Martha at the graveside of Lazarus, we see how the Lord feeds us with his word. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
- When we ponder Jesus’ tears with his friend Mary, we catch a glimpse of how the Lord binds up the injured and strengthens the weak. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).
- When we consider Jesus’ invitation to worship when he heals a son who was born blind, we wonder about the good grazing land offered to us through our tear-stained praise of God Almighty. “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:1-2).
Remember the Character of God
Caregiving can bring up some deep heart questions about the goodness of God and his purposes in suffering. It can be a pivotal moment where we choose to either press in and stand firm on God’s unchanging character, or we decide that God does not truly care for us after all.
I can’t fully wrap my mind around the fact that the Almighty God chooses to draw near to the suffering. It goes against everything my common sense understands about people in power and authority. Yet, Scripture is clear that God’s love toward the hurting is so overwhelming that he left heaven to carry our pain.
- “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).
- “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).
If you are in the trenches of caregiving, or if you are still processing the suffering you watched your loved one endure, hold tight to the promise that “when the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:17-18). Jesus truly is the perfect fulfillment of God’s promises to care for you.
In all your caregiving, Jesus is caring tenderly for you.
Editor’s Note: Are you a caregiver? Marissa recently published a Bible study for caregivers, Who Cares for You?
Photo by Dominik Lange on Unsplash