The Lord is My Helper
Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness is allowing the Lord to be your helper.
When you or our loved one faces a chronic or severe illness, you need the Lord’s help as our helper. You also need the courage to face the next hour and the challenges of everyday living. With Christ, you can meet each day without fear.
When my wife was diagnosed with Melanoma cancer my heart broke. I promised myself I would be there for her. I would be there in good times. I would be there in bad times. I would care for her and celebrate every time we received good news. I would be there to hold, comfort, and pray for her when the news was bad and when she had a bad day.
My ego initially got in the way as I wanted to prove to the world I was the super, best husband ever. I wanted to model for the world how to one your wife and care for her.
I think if I were totally honest I wanted the pat on the back and acclaim of family, coworkers, and friends for being the gold-standard in caregiving. I know I also wanted a well done from Jesus.
After her initial surgery, many people offered help. I took off a couple of weeks from work to care for her. Her sisters flew into town to see how she was doing and help.
All this time I decline more help than I accepted. My Bible fellowship class provided meals and gift cards. They were a blessing. Over time we settled into the long adjustment to the treatments, new normal, and fewer offers of help and my continued stubbornness to accept help.
As time passed I grew weary and had caregiving start to consume most of my waking hours especially when she had follow-up surgeries. Yet through this time, I found myself feeling guilty when someone else helped. I felt like a failure. It was as if I wasn’t doing it all myself, I wasn’t being the man or husband I was supposed to be.
During her 1001 days after the surgery, I was faithful in sending time with the Lord. However, the caregiving took a toll. I developed oral lichen planus, lichen planus, and irritable bowel disease while caring for my spouse. All are autoimmune diseases and the medical know-it-alls think stress can contribute to the diseases. You can see how poorly I handled everything.
I wonder how much more challenging it would have been if I hadn’t spent time with the Lord on a daily basis and asked him for his help? In the last five months of my wife’s life, I had someone with me daily helping. I know God touched my wife’s sisters’ heart to be with her. Even when she passed away she was surrounded by family. I was holding her hand and talking with her. Her sisters were present. All three of our children were there. Her best girlfriend from high school was present. Only God could have brought all together.
I let the family take my wife to the doctor and to radiation treatments from time to time without me. It allowed them to help and see what she was going through. I allowed her sisters to go to the oncologist and hear the reports first hand. Allowing this improved their engagement in caregiving.
Hebrews 13:6 (KJV), “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
What the Verse Means
Without any hesitation or doubt, in all times of difficulty when we don’t know how to pray or how we will make it even through the night, we have an assurance that God will not leave us to suffer.
What can we fear if we have the assurance that the Lord is on our side, and that he will help us?
We fear nothing. Man can do no more to us than God permits, and no more than will be for our own good.
We know under whatever trials we may be placed, we need be under no extreme anxiety, for God will be our protector and our friend.
Pray Using Scripture
- Heavenly Father, help us to cling to you and keep our total trust in you.
- Lord Jesus, give us the courage to say you are our helper.
- We pray for fear to flee from us. We will not fear what man or disease shall do unto us.
Responding to God’s Hope
- Are you trying to do it all yourself? Be honest.
- Do you have friends and family that have offered to help with the caregiving? List them by name. Consider allowing them to assist.
- You are not a failure or letting your loved one down if you have help. Do you have a Bible fellowship class to provide assistance? A ladies Bible study group? Friends? Family? For example, make them aware that you could use someone to sit with your loved one when you go buy groceries.
Photo Source: Pixabay
This blog post is adapted from the forthcoming book, “Hope for the Caregiver: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional Approach” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D.