How to Use Your Remaining Time
8.1 My Story
“How long …”
I asked the question doctors dread to hear. How long will my wife live?
I had spoken those words to the physician when my mother had her kidney transplant. I also said those two words when I took my ninety-years old father to the emergency room and found out he had suffered a major heart attack that would take his life in hours. I repeated the words when my wife had Melanoma cancer surgery and had thirty-four lymph nodes removed because the disease had spread into them.
With my spouse, I remember the oncologist giving the five-year survival rate’s very depressing odds. She emphasized enjoying the now. She strongly stressed if cancer recurred it would be terminal. She said, “Live for today. Enjoy every day.”
Less than six months later, the Melanoma cancer returned. My wife lived another two years and two months after the recurrence. She survived nearly two years longer than what we were told to expect.
I worked hard to make each day she lived a positive experience. I also took her on a multi-week “bucket list” trip where we had quality time together.
The trip was challenging as I had to get a refrigerator for our car for her prescription chemotherapy medications. Daily, I also had to pack and unpack a cumbersome lymphedema therapy machine. My wife had to sit for an hour every day hooked to the device to control swelling in her left arm, wrist, and hand.
My point is we made good use of the time available. I made sure my wife saw her sisters multiple times. I made sure our grown children were engaged in her life.
God was gracious and gave her 1001 days from the first surgery. He also gave me the patience and desire to serve her.
The hope we both had through Jesus Christ allowed us to face each day with hope.
8.2 Use the Time God Has Given You
Part of caring for a person with a chronic illness is learning to use the time God has given you. The Bible teaches that God has the days of our lives numbered. Here are five examples:
- Job 14:5 King James Version (KJV), “Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;”
- Job 21:21 (KJV), “For what does he care for his household after him, When the number of his months is cut off?”
- Psalm 31:15 (KJV), “My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.”
- Psalm 139:16 (KJV), “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.”
- Ecclesiastes 3:2 (KJV), “A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.”
8.3 Bible Verse
Psalm 39:4 (KJV), “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am.”
8.4 What the Verse Means
The verse shares thoughts concerning the psalmist meditations on human life. He reflects on life’s brevity, life’s vanity, and life’s sorrows.
He wonders why life was so short. Why was it so vain? Why was it so full of pain?
8.5 Pray Using Scripture
- Father in heaven, thank You for reminding me of how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to use the days I have with my loved one to the fullest.
- Lord Jesus, thank You for reminding me that You are in control of the length of a person’s life. Help me to trust that You know what is best for me.
- God, help me remember how short my life is and to live my days to Your honor and Your glory.
8.6 Responding to God’s Hope
- Are you helping your loved live the remaining days of their life to the fullest? What can you do today to make a good day for your loved one?
- What can you do to encourage friends and family to engage with your chronically or terminally ill loved one?
- Make sure you include rest in the management of your one’s time. What can you do today to make sure you take time to rest?
The Bible teaches God has our days numbered. We need to live each day to the fullest.
If you are not a Christian, accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior is a prerequisite to obtaining God’s peace.
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This blog is from the forthcoming book, “Caregiving: Biblical Insights from a Caregiver’s Journey by Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D.
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