Tag Archive | fellowship

DO the next thing — how to care for the suffering.

Picture me on my hands and knees scrubbing toilets. Confession — I’ve scrubbed more than a dozen this week!

Yes, this is part of how I make my living, scrubbing other’s toilets. I have a dream to make the written word my living one of these days.  To part ways with the survival mode I’ve been in for so long.

Yet Jesus himself took up a scrub rag and a basin of water. He washed the dirty, dusty feet of his disciples — all twelve of them. No one else had signed up for the job. Such humility He calls all his true disciples to live out.

Somehow this toilet scrubbing is also making a path through grief for me. I can help my brother keep a sense of normal tidiness. His wife loved a clean house, even with two littles constantly creating messes.     Doing this one small thing brings her nearer to me. (I can just hear her saying tongue-in-cheek, Wow! I’m so flattered that my toilets remind you of ME! I know, sis. My bad.)

If you’re  a fan of Elisabeth Elliot (wife of martyred Jim Elliott, missionary), then you know she buried three husbands. She was well acquainted with grief.

“Do the next thing.” This was her motto. Meeting the routine needs helps you survive life on the ash heap of grief. Surely Job and his friends at least ate together.

The meals my friends have brought to me have made life bearable this week. My brother’s church, family, and friends are feeding him. In turn, we are able to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving with life.

Grief is a regular part of caregiving. My husband mourns the loss of function. I miss the adventurous person I married, now barely able to leave the house unless well-fortified with extra pain meds. A routine list of the “next things” to do helps us cut through the fog of pain. When we have had help with the challenging tasks, the encouragement is tangible.

Food, a small list of tasks to accomplish, the company of friends, and help checking off the list — these are a few ways to truly encourage your chronically ill friend.

Like Jesus taught, the dirty feet always need washing, but it takes eyes of humility to see and meet those needs. Dear caregiving sister, I pray you will have help on your journey today.

Week 8: Christ Jesus, my Shepherd, my Caregiver

Once again I’ve made my Lord’s Day rounds — caregiver visiting caregiver. Let me explain.

My 93 year old grandmother lies bedridden in my parent’s former living room which is now occupied by a hospital bed and recliner, adult diapers and clothing in the cupboard. She has the kindest and gentlest of women, my mother and youngest sister, meeting her every physical need day in and day out.

On Sundays they take a much needed day off for church and fellowship. Bright and cheerful Ms. E comes to stay with Grandma, and rain or shine, winter winds or blistering heat, my daughter and I pop by to walk the dog and visit Grandma for a few. Ms. E  is always happy for adult conversation, too. It is a long day for her. Caregivers need company!

My question is this: who cares for the caregiver? So many times I am too busy fighting my own fires to stay very connected to others outside my family.

Another week of desperate prayers here wondering how I’m going to stay on top of everything on my plate. Another week of putting on my big girl britches and finding out where to check the oil and coolant on my new old vehicle because my hubby has been too incapacitated to barely step foot outside the house for the past week. Good thing I checked! This old engine is needy, too. I know from listening to you ladies that this is your life experience as well.

So my body was fighting me, but His Spirit won. By His grace I rarely miss worshipping Him with His people on His day. Why? Why bother when I have so much on my plate?

Certainly not because I find my every need met at church. Often I feel alone, isolated from the other women because my circumstances are so vastly different from theirs. I have had to really work on reaching out beyond those walls and seeking out the common ground we have in Christ. What brings me back each week?

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,   and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

As Matthew Henry puts it, “Let your care for your souls and another world take place of ALL other cares: and let all the concerns of this life be made subordinate to those of the life to come…”  God and His holy angels attend the worship of His people on His day. His Word is the Bread of Life to my weary soul. It is my time to sit in His presence and rejuvenate for the week ahead.

Jesue Himself calls you and I, weary and burdened, to come to Him and find rest for our souls. He is my Caregiver and yours.

It is my hope and prayer to make this blog a little oasis for you, but I cannot give you rest and refreshment without time spent at Jesus’ feet, listening to His Word, being His sheep, and hearing His voice. Spend time with Him tonight!

Please feel free to share in the comments how I can pray for you. Caregivers need to care for one another. image





You have put away my acquaintance far from me…

8 You have put away my acquaintance far from me; you have made me an abomination to them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth. Ps. 88:8

C. H. Spurgeon wrote eloquently on the subject of chronic illness and suffering. He was no stranger to the experience.  Here a few words taken from his study on the 88th Psalm:

“If ever we need friends it is in the dreary hour of despondency and the weary time of bodily sickness; therefore does the sufferer complain because divine providence had removed his friends. Perhaps his disease was infectious or defiling, so that he was legally separated from his fellow men, perhaps their fears kept them away from his plague stricken house, or else his good name and become so injured that they naturally avoided him. Most friends require but small excuse for turning their backs on the afflicted. The swallows offer no apology for leaving us to winter by ourselves. Yet is is a piercing pain which arises from the desertion of dear associates; is is a wound which festers and refuses to be healed.

“You have made me an abomination unto them…” They turned from him as though he had become loathsome and contaminating and this because of something which the Lord had done to him; therefore, he brings his complaint to the prime mover in his trouble. He who is still flattered by the companions of his pleasure can little guess the wretchedness which will be his portion should he become poor, or slanderously accused, for then one by one the parasites of his prosperity will go their way and leave him to his fate, not without cutting remarks on their part to increase his misery. Men have not so much power to bless by friendship as to curse by treachery. Earth’s poisons are more deadly than her medicines are healing. The mass of men who gather around a man and flatter him are like tame leopards; when they lick his hand it is well for him to remember that with equal gusto they would drink his blood. “Cursed is he that trusteth in man.”

“I am shut up and cannot come forth…”  He was a prisoner in his room, and felt like a leper in the lazarretto, or a condemned criminal in his cell. His mind, too, was bound as with fetters of iron; he felt no liberty of hope, he could take no flights of joy. When God shuts friends out, and shuts us in to pine away alone, it is no wonder if we water our couch with tears.”

Psalm 88 is primarily a desparate cry for help from a suffering soul.  I cannot leave this post without a note of hope. By the amazing divine grace of God,  you and I can be Christlike in our friendships. We can be friends who love at all times. We can be faithful to pray and encourage one another, for our old man has been put to death in Christ’s death. BUT, it will take recognition of our natural tendency to be fickle and unfaithful, and true repentance, and putting off of the old man. We must “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.”   Another year, another breath, and another opportunity to grow is presented to us!

The Fellowship of Sufferings

I’ve been away from my blog for about a month. Staying connected is always more challenging when you are in crisis mode. My brother and sister-in-love, newly weds of only four years with a beautiful family of two babies,  have been broadsided by personal tragedy.  I’ve been actively trying in my limited way with limited resources to recruit help for them and to spend time by their side as they deal with the fall-out of breast cancer.

Appropriately this morning’s sermon was on the topic of suffering from Job 2:1-10. Job is a byword for suffering down through the ages. Suffering is a current, ongoing event.  Several fellow-sufferers were present at the morning worship. I personally chatted with a father of 6 who is currently undergoing cancer treatment. Another dear friend and sister is concerned that her husband’s Lyme disease has reoccurred just at his busiest season of contracting work. Prayers were lifted up for a husband and wife who are both suffering from life-threatening illnesses.

When someone you love suffers, you are reminded of your own frailty and helplessness.  The beautiful yet painful remedy is to throw yourself at feet of the Sovereign of the universe. “… Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” Job rebukes his faithless wife (Job 2:10). Whatever the process, whatever the outcome, “I know that my Redeemer lives,and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” Job 19:25

Dear fellow sister, if you are often discouraged at the suffering which you are a silent witness to, remember there are others who share in your sadness. Connect yourself to the fellowship and  come alongside those who suffer. Bow your knee to the will of the King of Kings who will one day destroy Death itself. In the great and final end we will truly see “the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (KJV James 5:11)