Not Losing Heart
Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness is learning how to not lose heart and help your loved one not develop a gloom and doom attitude. Today’s verse helps us to have a confident acceptance of the reality of life. It helps you keep the faith.
I’m sure my late wife grew tired of me asking, “What did you weight this morning?”
She would dutifully look at me and then give me the number. It was almost always the same weight. Oh, it may go up or down by a pound or two but generally was the same.
One day she replied, “You’re asking my weight to see if cancer is causing me to lose weight. Am I correct?”
Guilty as charged.
Then she schools me. She said something like you’re dying just like I am. It may not be cancer that’s getting you. It’s old age. Even though you look a decade younger than your years, Father Time is getting you. The sands that count your days are slipping through the hourglass at an ever-increasing rate — and they’ll run out one day.
She told me she wasn’t going to just sit on the couch wasting away and waiting to die. She reminded me she still read her Bible daily, prayed for herself and interceded for others.
She pointed out that God was renewing her inner person daily. Oh, the body was decaying, aging, being ravaged by cancer but God had her spirit and inner parson renewed daily.
She was so smart. I may have had the official seminary education with a fancy master’s degree but she knew so much more from a deeper walk with the Lord in Bible reading, scripture meditation, and time in prayer.
She taught me that we should be released from an obsession with the physical body. The Christian’s faith is far from a fatalistic acceptance of suffering and awaiting death. Every believer in Jesus Christ has their eyes open to something else. That is the continuous restoration of the inner person.
When my late wife was in her final days in hospice care the amazing calming power of God’s word was apparent. I would read from the Book of Psalms in the Bible to her. The little anxiousness she had from the pain would melt away and transform to calm. Playing favorite hymns and worship songs worked the same miracle. It reminded me of the way she used breathing techniques to mitigate pain when in labor during the delivery of our children.
I had witnessed Scriptures’ calming power on the life of a Believer of Jesus Christ for two-plus decades as a full-time minister working with responsibilities with older adults and pastoral care. Many times as I would read familiar Bible verses the chronically or terminally ill person would transform from anxiousness and fear into peacefulness. Sometimes they even from memory say or quote the Bible verses with me.
The power of God’s word is awesome.
2 Corinthians 4: 16 (KJV), “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”
What the Verse Means
Christianity understands the steady decline of the physical body. Though we are rescued from spiritual death and alive with Christ, our bodies remain in the process of decay.
The follower of Christ should recognize that our outer bodies are wasting away. From the moment of birth, we begin to die. It is inescapable unless the Lord Jesus returns first.
The Christian should be aware of increasing inner, spiritual strength. God does not forsake his children, but he gives us growing supplies of grace.
The Holy Spirit works in us as an infinite well of life. This is a constant process of renewal. The Lord does not allow us to be born again and then ignore us. No, he gives us daily spiritual energy.
May we never forget the physical and the spiritual are part of your life every day.
Pray Using Scripture
- Heavenly Father help me to not focus on my decaying or diseased body, but to realize that my inner self is being renewed daily.
- Lord Jesus, help me look to the things that are not seen, not the which are seen.
- God, help me look to the eternal, not the temporal.
Responding to God’s Hope
- Are you spending time in God’s word? If not, I encourage you to return to reading your Bible or being today for the first time. You can start with just a verse or two. God will speak to you.
- Are you spending time in prayer? If not, I encourage you to start today. A good beginning would be praying “God, help me spend time reading your Bible. Lord, teach me to pray.”
- Are you obsessed with your loved one’s physical appearance? Radiation and chemotherapy take a toll. Your loved one may lose their hair. My wife had no hair her last five months of life. I didn’t see her hairless head. I saw her beautiful smile and radiant countenance. She was comfortable without a wig and would wear a chemo beanie when she went to the doctor or on days when she was able to go out for a walk or meal.
Photo Source: Taken by Jimmie Aaron Kepler. The photo was taken on March 10, 2018. It shows my late wife “Miss Benita” (yes, I called her Miss Benita) making a “muscle” for me to show she has the strength to continue battling Melanoma cancer. Ten days later a recurrence of her brain tumor was diagnosed. She would pass away only 32 days after the picture was taken. It was the last time she was out of the house before going to the hospital. We had breakfast at Chick-fil-a and were walking at The Shops at Willow Bend mall. The day before we were told there were no signs of cancer and she needed to walk to get her strength back. The oncologist was going to authorize her to return to work on June 14, 2018. Instead, the cancerous brain tumor returned. She passed away on April 12, 2018. I chose the photo because she is proudly wearing her chemo beanie over her bald head and a large scar from brain surgery she had in December 2017.
This blog post is adapted from the forthcoming book, “Hope for the Caregiver: A Biblical Alternative” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D.