How to Have a Friend

As I write this post, it’s a Tuesday morning. I’m writing at my favorite Starbucks. I love Tuesday’s as this coffeehouse has a little more traffic than usual this morning.

 

The reason for the increased customer traffic is a running club meets here on Tuesday and Friday. They’ve come here for over twenty-five years. A number of them are good acquaintances. A couple of the members attended my wife’s funeral last spring. They always ask how I am doing, what I am writing, how my book sales are doing, and share what they are reading. They ask what I’m reading as well.

 

This morning I asked one how loves history what he’s reading. His face lit up with joy. He shared his excitement on the latest book he is dipping into. He also commented he had found my blog, Kepler’s Book Reviews. 

 

He said I should have told him about it.

 

I replied I simply post reviews of some of the books I have read and liked. I stated I write a short review on what I read and post some of them.

 

What’s my point?

 

Even the Bible tells us in Proverbs 18:24a (KJV), “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly:”

 

Not into the Bible? The writer/poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”  The poet Rod McKuen penned, “Strangers are friends just waiting to happen.”

 

The post’s title is “How to Have a Friend.” The answer is to be one!

 

Why not add at least one new friend, even a casual one to your circle? You will both be blessed.

Photo Source: Pixabay

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Six

It’s Scary

Facing a chronic illness is a scary daily challenge for the person with the disease as well as the family and the caregiver. Through Jesus Christ, we can be strong and courageous. How can we do this?

We cannot do this by ourselves in our own strength. We are only able to do this in God’s power. We must remember that daily the Lord Jesus, our God, goes with the Christian. We need to remember He goes with us and is with us today.

Today’s Scripture tells us the Lord will not leave or forsake the Believer in Jesus Christ.

My Story

Late in my wife Benita’s battle with cancer, she suffered confusion and disorientation. It was mid-March. Only three months earlier her Melanoma Cancer had spread to the brain. She had been diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of an egg. She had surgery. The tumor was removed. She had completed three weeks of radiation treatment in February. 

Following the treatments, she had a brain scan. No sign of cancer was detected. She and I had talked at length cherishing every moment. We could feel the sands in the hourglass of her life quickly running out. Daily and at times hourly I told her how much I loved her, how blessed I was to have her share life with me. 

We openly discussed how scary cancer was. Benita made me aware of her wish that if cancer recurred in the brain to not let the doctor do another surgery. She did not want to be operated on again. She did not want another brain surgery.

Our faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ was strong. Her Christian faith and trust in God were the strongest I have ever seen. And then the confusion and disorientation hit her like an express train. She did not know who she was, where she was, what date it was, what month it was and could not answer my rudimentary questions. I’m not a medical doctor, but I knew her situation was terrible, very horrible.

With the help of my children, I took Benita to the emergency room of the hospital where she had had the original tumor removed the previous December. I knew from the emergency rooms physicians’ initial responses and reactions this was serious. 

I was awake thirty-nine consecutive hours during this time. The ER doctors deferred talking to me about the details of a recurrence in the area of the original tumor. They left the difficult conversation with me to the brain surgeon. The surgeon was straightforward in his talk with me. The cancer had recurred with a massive blood clot. The operating room was available in fifteen minutes if I gave the okay. They needed an answer now. Time was critical.

I asked a few questions. I was told the surgery would only extend life two months on average. I was reminded of the recovery time for this type of surgery was six to nine months. It was pointed out that due to the location of the tumor that surgery may leave her totally blind, with the possible loss of speech, and unable to care for herself. Then I was told we need a decision. He said if you say no to the surgery, your choice cannot be reversed because of her critical nature. The other option was for her to go on hospice care. If I selected the hospice option, the doctor gave her days to weeks to live. He could not guarantee she would regain consciousness. 

I asked the doctor for ten minutes. I left the room and called two of our children. Our oldest child was with me. I did not ask for their opinion. I told them what was going on and that per their mother’s wishes we would not have surgery. I next called my wife’s sisters and told them the same. I returned to the intensive care unit and informed the doctor. He agreed with our choice. They started her on massive steroids to stop the swelling and on morphine for pain management. 

Within a few hours, she regained consciousness. A few hours later her brain function had returned where she realized where she was, what was going on including understanding she was going to die, Benita thanked me for honoring her wishes.

She was moved from ICU to a room to stabilize her. She then went to an inpatient hospice hospital for a week before being transported by ambulance to our home. Benita’s wish was to go home. Again, I was honoring what she wanted.

I was scared to death wondering how we would manage. Could I get her to and from the bathroom? Then it was could I get her on and off a potty chair? I worried about lifting and turning her in bed. I wondered how I would handle watching her die.

God was faithful.  We had a caring team of hospice nurses, her sisters, our children, and even me that managed to make it through the twenty-three days from when I took her to the emergency room until she passed away with family and friends surrounding her. I was holding her hand, had just kissed her goodbye and told her it was okay to go on to heaven when she took her last breath.

No, it wasn’t easy. Yes, God was there with us each step of the way. He went with us and did not forsake or fail us.

The Bible Says

Deuteronomy 31:6 (KJV), “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

The Meaning Of The Bible Verse

Because Christians have God with them, they should be of good courage. The courage comes from their confident assurance in God. It is this certainty comes to abound as a result of their faith. This sure faith in Christ allows Christians to bravely face each day knowing through Him we shall have the ultimate victory. 

Pray Using The Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, please help our family to continue to be strong and courageous in the face of this illness. Help me as the caregiver to continue to trust in You and have faith in You.
  2. Lord, we ask for Your comfort. Help us to not fear or be in dread of the challenges we are living through. Help us to not grow weary. Thank you for letting us know it is the Lord our God who goes with us and that You will not leave us or forsake us.
  3. We pray our family and loved ones would confess faith in Jesus Christ where they too can experience the comfort available to Christians.

Applying The Verse To Receive God’s Hope For The Caregiver

  1. What challenges are you currently facing as a caregiver that has you scared and wondering if you can handle the problem? Have you turned this challenge over to God through prayer? Why not do that right now? 
  2. The verse is not positive thinking. It is not an if you believe it you can achieve approach. Instead, it is asking God to fill you with His Holy Spirit to strengthen you. It is realizing the same God that created the universe, that knit you together in your mother’s womb at conception is there with His angels to lift you up, sustain you, and help meet your every need.
  3. Have you asked God for the needed courage to face today? Whatever the challenge you face as a caregiver, He is big enough to help you through the situation. 

Photo Source: Pixabay

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Five

My late wife, Benita Kepler. The photo was taken after she had been diagnosed with two cancers, both Stage 4.

Your Attitude is Important

Learning to care for a loved one with a chronic illness includes discovering how to laugh. Our attitude is crucial when caring for a person with a chronic disease. Our view is also contagious, infectious.

The cheerfulness of mind does good like a medicine for the body. Our attitude contributes to the restoration or preservation of bodily health and vigor. Medical science tells us the red blood cells, most white blood cells, and platelets are produced in the bone marrow, the soft fatty tissue inside bone cavities. A poor spirit/attitude ‘drieth the bones’ and remember it is the bones which produce the needed cells.

We can learn a lot if we read our Bible.

My Story

Anyone who ever saw or knew my late wife Benita in her last three to five years would almost always comment on her smile. Her attitude would match the smile.

The July before she passed away the next April was one of the few times when I saw her spirit nearly broken. She shared with me a visit she had with the dermatologist. The young dermatologist told Miss Benita she was surprised she was continuing to work her day job. 

The physician stood facing my wife, looking her directly in the eyes. She had placed a hand on each of my wife’s shoulders to make sure she had her attention. She commented, “We, that is me and the rest of your medical team (the managing oncologist, surgical oncologist, primary care physician, gastroenterologist and the radiologist are all concerned that you don’t understand that you have Stage 4 Melanoma Cancer and Stage 4 Neuroendocrine Carcinoid. One or the other of these cancers is going to kill you. They are incurable.”

Benita told me that upset her said she took the lady doctor’s hands off her shoulders and told her. “I know I have cancer. I know without Providential intervention they will kill me. I am not just going to sit on my couch in my living room and wait to die. I work because I need the medical insurance and because when I work, I don’t think about cancer.”

“That had to be tough to hear,” I replied.

“Don’t patronize me. You know it was hard to hear even when I knew it.”

I nodded.

She added, “I told her that God had my days numbered. I was going to smile and keep my trust in God. It was my hope in Jesus that allowed me to smile, to have hope, and keep going.”

She hugged me and then thanked me for supporting her approach to handling the illness.

She lived about eighteen months longer than the doctor’s original projection of life expectancy. I am sure attitude added to both the quality of her life and the length of her life.

The Bible Says

Proverbs 17:22 (KJV),  “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

The Meaning Of The Bible Verse

The attitude of the sick person is crucial when dealing with a chronic illness. Their cheerfulness of mind does good like a medicine for the body. Their mental approach contributes to the restoration or preservation of bodily health and vigor. Their outlook gives them hope. As caregivers, our attitude is equally critical. The one we’re caring for with catch our state of mind. Caregivers need more than a positive attitude. We need the joy of the Lord in our heart.

Pray Using the Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, help us to enjoy the funny things that happen in life. Let our joyful attitude be caught by our loved one and other family members.
  2. Lord Jesus, help us to take life one day at a time. Allow us the ability to enjoy today instead of worrying about tomorrow.
  3. Almighty God, help our family and friends to not dwell on the seriousness of the illness, but rather help us to live life to the fullest as we know You hold the future of the loved one we are caring for and our future.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. How’s your attitude? Being down is normal. Allow the joy of the Lord to fill your heart and lift your mood.
  2. How’s your outlook? Remember, that in the Lord’s strength you can care for your loved one.
  3. How do you get a merry heart? You get one by knowing Christ as Savior. You get one by spending time in reading the Bible, being in fellowship with Christians, and you just ask the Lord through prayer to make your heart merry. For the Believer in Jesus Christ there is the ultimate destination of heaven and being with Jesus. That knowledge alone should fill your heart with joy.

Ten Thoughts to Encourage Others

Ten Thoughts to Encourage Others:

Over the years I have noticed people who have the ability and skill to do a task or assignment often lack the confidence to tackle the job before them. If they are a writer, they may fear to put words on paper. If an analyst, they may hesitate or question themselves before solving a problem or recommending a solution.

I have found that a little encouragement helps them achieve their goals and do their job. Here are ten thoughts on how I encourage others.

1. Show a Sincere Interest in the Person.

  • Listen to what they are saying.
  • When they are talking, look at them not your smartphone.
  • Be interested in what is happening in their life, the challenge(s) they are facing.
  • Let them know you care.

2. Acknowledge What’s Important. 

  • When you acknowledge what’s important to others, you offer a form of verification and support about who they are and what they’re doing.
  • A proper technique I use is merely to restate their question or challenge and then allow them to talk it through.
  • Follow-up and ask how it’s going, are they making progress.
  • Do not share similar circumstances you have lived through or had a friend or family member survive. It’s about them, not you!

3. Say “Congratulations.”

  • These magical “Words of Encouragement” at the right time can make all the difference between a person “keeping going” and “giving up.”
  • Congratulate them on a job or task well done. This may be as simple as their meeting a deadline.
  • A “Post-It” note or email congratulatory word has fantastic results.
  • Give a person the credit they’ve earned. Do not claim it for yourself.

4. Be There. 

  • Sometimes the “ministry of your presence” is all they need.
  • Just being there for them is encouraging.
  • Many times all they need is a listening ear to talk through the issue or task.
  • Let them know “you have there back.” Many times these simple acts share hope.

5. Say “Thank You.”

  • Saying thank you is a common courtesy.
  • It is good manners.
  • People like a little reward for hard work.
  • A simple thank you will make others aware that you know what they have done worthwhile and find it meaningful to you.

6. Return the Favor.

  • If someone does something sweet for you, an excellent way to show your appreciation is merely to return the favor.
  • It will both shock and encourage them.
  • I can be as simple as bring them a coffee or offering to help them with their next project or routine tasks when they are overloaded. You might take their “on-call” where they can have a weekend break instead of swapping weekends with them.
  • Note: don’t ever do something expecting someone to return the favor for you.

7. Answer With Something Unexpected. 

  • I have a phrase I have used for years … love them from where they are to where they need to be!
  • Even when others let me down or they know I know they “dropped the ball” I don’t tell them so, I usually pick the ball up for them.
  • If something went wrong, help them focus on the solution instead of assigning blame.
  • It is incredible the long-term results this can have in encouraging someone.

8. Be a “Good Finder.”

  • A “good finder” is a person who looks for the good, not the bad in a person or a situation.
  • An example would be if a person is always late to meetings, but makes in on time to your meeting instead of saying “About time you attended a meeting on time” say “I really appreciate the extra effort you made to get here on time” without any reference to their usual tardiness.
  • A good finder affirms their coworkers or friends.
  • People will gravitate toward you where you’re a “good finder” as you’ll become someone who makes others feel good.

9. Smile.

  • Have you ever experienced the magic of a simple smile?
  • Have you ever noticed how when you smile at someone they smile back?
  • Share an encouraging smile.
  • Smiling will transform your own attitude as well.

10. Offer to Lend a Hand. 

  • You can offer to lend a hand.
  • Sometimes a person feels like the weight of the world is on their shoulders and no one cares.
  • Show them you really care. You can be there.
  • If a person gives me an excessive workload, I usually ask them if there is anything else I can do for them when I finish the job. I do not complain about the amount of work.

What are some ways you encourage friends or coworkers? These techniques also work with your spouse or partner. Please share your suggestions in the comments.

Photo Source: Pixaby

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Four

God’s Grace is Enough

How in the world am I ever going to care for my loved one? I can’t do this. I don’t know how. I don’t have the physical strength to help them to lift them in and out of bed. How will I ever get them on and off a potty chair? I’ll never keep the prescriptions straight. How will I ever give my loved one the right medications at the right time? There are so many prescriptions. What do I do when they don’t want to eat or drink?

Caring for a loved one with a chronic illness isn’t easy. You may be the only caregiver. You may have family help. If they offer, please consider accepting the help. You might have your church or Bible study class giving some assistance where you can go to the grocery store or just have a few hours for yourself.

Part of your education in caring for a loved one with a chronic illness is learning that God’s grace is enough. 

The Bible Says

2 Corinthians 12:9 (KJV), “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

My Story

My wife had surgery within a week of her initial diagnosis of Melanoma Cancer. I was mentally prepared to provide her with world-class care and unconditional love. It was almost like I had put on my superhero uniform and was singlehandedly going to do it all.

While she was still in the hospital it was easy. I cared for her every need and the nurses and surgeon came in from time to time to check on her. This is a breeze, I thought. 

I brought her home. There was a challenge in getting her from the car to the bedroom. I wasn’t as easy as I had envisioned.

My Bible fellowship class brought in a few meals to help. I was so thankful for their assistance. They also provided several restaurant gift cards for food. The gifts cards were a challenge. They required me to be gone from the house which meant I was leaving my sweet wife alone as I drove to the Subway or another restaurant to get the food. 

On one trip I was greeted by a severe thunderstorm that pounded me, flooded the roadway, and contributed to a significant automobile accident that had the road blocked for over an hour. I was stuck. I tried calling my wife but her telephone was turned on vibrate where it wouldn’t disturb her rest. I had visions of her crying out needing help and no one responding.

By the time I returned home, I was soaking wet from the rain and exasperated from the delay. My thoughts were of the worst proved unfounded. However, the storm and accident had my wife having lunch almost two hours late. 

I discovered a hard lesson. I learned to be smart in using what God has provided. Going forward I wouldn’t go out for food during periods where my wife was recovering from surgery or treatments unless I had someone to sit with my wife.

My wife’s sisters offered to come from out of state to help. At first, I thought, I don’t need them. I can handle this. They need to wait until she is sicker and she requires more care. I was afraid they didn’t think I could care for their sister.

My oldest son was a voice of reason. He suggested to me that I welcome my sisters-in-law. He pointed out I was already tired. He was sure I could use the help where I maintained energy and strength for the extended challenge ahead. Besides, he said, the sisters needed each other. He added that God might even be prompting them to come.

I agreed. My wife’s sisters came. God’s grace and provision were sufficient for the challenge. 

I learned lessons then that prepared me for thirty months later when we needed all hands on deck to walk through the valley of her last five months before she ultimate passed away.

God’s grace is sufficient. He may provide you with the strength you need for a specific task. He may send the family to you to help. He may have meals delivered to meet your needs. Regardless of how He does it, God’s grace is sufficient.

The Meaning Of The Bible Verse

Suffering uncovers your heart’s weaknesses so that Christ is your strength.

Pray Using The Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, help us to cry out to You in our weakness and claim Your promise that Your grace is sufficient for us, for Your power is made perfect in weakness. 
  2. Thank you, Lord, for providing your sufficient grace. 
  3. Teach us how to boast all the more gladly of our weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon us. We don’t understand how but trust in you for our strength to be made perfect in weakness.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Have you asked God to give you Grace for today? What challenges are you facing today? Have you turned it over to God? Turn it over to God now. Dear Lord, today I am facing [enter challenges here]. I ask for Your help.
  2. Have you prayed for the power of Christ to rest upon you?  If not, ask Him now.
  3. You need to acknowledge your weakness and pray for God’s sufficiency.  Are you trusting God to help you and then willing to accept the help He offers?

Photo Source: Pixaby

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Three

Take Care of Yourself

Knowing that illness and disease ultimately destroy the body makes not losing hope difficult when caregiving for a loved one with a chronic illness. We cannot care for someone if we allow ourselves to become exhausted or sick. Our staying healthy is essential.

Our caregiving should include taking care of ourselves. This self-care comprises of eating correctly, exercising on a regular basis, and getting enough sleep. In addition to caring for our physical needs, there is an equally crucial fourth element. 

What is that fourth element? We must also make sure we renew our spiritual side daily. We need to do as Psalm 46:10a New Living Translation says, “Be still, and know that I am God!” We need to rest in the Lord.

In today’s verse, God is merely pointing out we should view all earthly adversity in comparison with our future heavenly glory. When we do this, we should be strengthened to endure our human trials.

My Story

My wife Benita and I shared the same cardiologist. I saw him because of blood pressure issues and having experienced two transient ischemic attacks or TIAs that put me in the hospital. What’s a TIA? A TIA is also commonly known as a mini-stroke. 

My wife saw him for heart testing. He every few months performed an electrocardiogram (EKG) on her to ensure her heart was healthy enough for the chemotherapy medications and radiation treatments she endured over her two years and ten months of treatments for her Melanoma Cancer.

Our cardiologist would tell me it was important to care for myself where I could care for my wife. He would also remind me of Benita’s next EKG appointment.

In March of 2017, I was diagnosed with Lichen Planus, both the oral and on other parts of the body types. It has an unknown cause and is not contagious. It is an autoimmune disorder. Some feel it is brought on from an injury to the mouth, having an oral infection, taking certain medications, or having an allergic reaction to something that came in contact with the mouth, like food or dental appliances. Almost all physicians agree Oral Lichen Planus happens most often when a person finds themselves under extreme stress and has not taken everyday stress reduction actions. 

In March 2018 I was diagnosed with colitis. It has an unknown cause and is not contagious. It is an autoimmune disorder. Again, the disease has multiple probable causes, and most doctors feel it is brought on or aggravated by extreme stress. 

I share the above to say my physicians feel the stress I was under caring for my wife, my father, and my mother and my failing to take care of myself may have contributed to me developing two chronic illnesses. The physicians felt I lacked balance in caring for others with taking care of myself.

In my mid-60s, I find exercise challenging. My activity of choice is walking. I monitor by walking with a smartwatch. I have a daily goal of walking at least 10,000 steps. My walking happens in the climate-controlled environment of the local shopping mall or giant box stores.

No, I don’t make the goal every day. However, I manage to reach the goal between five and six times a week. Does it help? Yes, it helps. My body notices when I miss a couple of days.

The Bible Says

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (KJV), “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

The Meaning of the Bible Verse

While our bodies (that is, the outward man) grow old and suffer from diseases, our spiritual side (that is, the inward man) is renewed daily. Too often we only focus on the things we see in this present life. Way back in the 1960’s there was a hit song that became an anthem for the baby boomer generation. Its title was “Live for Today.”

Sure, we have to live for today by exercising our daily responsibilities. We need to also focus on the spiritual, that is the things that are not seen but given to us by God as a future promise. 

These are only seen with our “spiritual eyes.” It takes faith. A part of faith is believing that what God has promised he will undoubtedly bring to pass. 

I believe.

Pray Using the Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, help us to focus on you and not lose heart. 
  2. Lord Jesus, while our outer body is perishing, yet our inward man or body is being renewed daily.
  3. God, we realize the chronic illness we are facing won’t last forever but is working in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Lord God, help us to not look at our circumstances which are temporary but to look at the things that are not now seen, but eternal.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Are you taking care of yourself physically? Do you have a regular exercise program? If not, see your physician before beginning one to make sure you are healthy enough for exercise. Are you getting enough rest and sleep?
  2. Are you taking care of yourself spiritually? This is done by knowing Jesus as your Lord and Savior and spending time in prayer and Bible reading. It can be as simple as reading a chapter from the Book of Proverbs each day of the month.
  3. Does your patient or loved one know Christ as Savior? Have you ever talked to them about their spiritual condition? Their hope for the future is in Jesus Christ. Only through Jesus will they have heaven as their ultimate residence.

Photo Source: Pixabay

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Two

Thank you for reading. Here’s the next chapter! Are you coming in new? Start with Chapter One.

Chapter Two

It’s Okay To Cry

Learning to accept tears and crying as normal is part of the process of caring for a person with a chronic illness. When we care about, and for someone, it is normal to shed tears when they hurt, when they face sickness.

It’s okay to cry. The Heavenly Father cares about our tears. In this chapter, we look at what God’s word says about crying.

My Story

The door opened revealing the surgical oncologist in her light green colored scrubs and matching booties. As her eyes scanned the room looking for me, I stood and walked in her direction. There was a deathly serious, all business look on her ashen-face. 

“Dr. Kepler, we just finished your wife Benita’s surgery. She’ll be moving to recovery in the next fifteen to twenty minutes. You can see her then.”

I looked at the young woman’s now pallor face. She displayed tiredness from getting up early and then being in surgery for over three hours. I sensed a fear as she approached me.

She looked down at her feet for a brief moment and took a deep breath.

This can’t be good. Dr. Landry’s having to muster a lot of courage, I thought.

She looked up at me. “Let’s go somewhere private,” she said looking over my shoulder at my anxious family, friends, and coworkers seated behind me.

I nodded.

She leads me to a small private consultation room. She took my hands in hers.

“I’m so sorry,” she began. “It is Melanoma Cancer. The Melanoma has spread into the lymph nodes. I had to remove thirty-four of them.”

My eyes filled with tears instantly. They just as fast were flowing down my cheeks. I tried without success to not sob.

She went on to tell me the five-year survival rate for Melanoma Cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes. She expressed concern about the distance from the initial site that the Melanoma had already spread.

“Is the Melanoma Cancer going to kill her?” I asked. I needed to hear her say it.

“Probably. Yes, well, yes it will if Benita’s neuroendocrine carcinoid cancer doesn’t kill her first. Having two types of cancers makes the treatment very difficult. It removes most of the normal treatment options,” said the oncological surgeon.

I briefly thought back to December 2013 when Benita had surgery for a malrotated intestine. The surgeon was surprised when they found a malignant tumor. It had not shown on the CT Scans, MRIs, X-rays or any of the other tests they had performed before the surgery.

“I understand,” I said. Tears were now streaming down my face. 

But I didn’t understand. Why my wife?

“Are you going to be okay, Dr. Kepler? Do you want me to get someone to be with you? I could ask a family member or maybe someone from the chaplain’s office to be with you.”

I just looked at her and started crying uncontrollably for a couple of minutes. She hugged me until I quit sobbing.

“Thank you for everything,” I choked out. I thought about how hard it had to be for Dr. Landry to share this news with me. She was the same age as my oldest son. 

Yes, delivering bad news is hard. Receiving the life-altering message is harder.

“We’ll talk when I check on your wife in a few hours,” she said. The color was returning to her face now that she had transferred the information to me.

I nodded. I knew I needed to tell the family and friends in the waiting rooms, start calling people and get the prayer warriors praying. 

The oncological surgeon nodded, turned and left the room.

I moved slowly from the consultation back toward my entourage. With each step closer to the group I teared up more. Through teary eyes, I told the family and friends present but somehow kept my emotions under control. As I called my wife’s sisters, I became choked up and started crying.

A friend I had grown-up mentioned that God collects our tears in a bottle (Psalms 56:8-9) and that since God collects the tears, they must be important. 

“Crying must be okay if God collects our tears,” he said. He gave me that much-needed reminder that God cares for us.

As an ordained minister and ordained deacon, I had visited hospitals hundreds of times over the previous thirty-five years as I provided pastoral care to church members, their family, and friends. While many people were uncomfortable in a hospital setting, I wasn’t. I had held their hands, prayed with them, watched them cry when the physician would deliver bad news or when their loved one passed into eternity. During all these visits I never once wept.

When the patient was my wife, I cried in public and bawled in private. 

I want you to know it is okay for you to cry.

The Bible Says

Psalm 56:8-9 (KJV), “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.”

The Meaning Of The Bible Verse

Why would one keep tears in a bottle? The idea behind the keeping of “tears in a bottle” is a remembrance. King David, the writer of these verses, is expressing a deep trust in God. He knows that God will remember his sorrow. He knows God will remember his tears. He also is sure the God will not forget about him. David is confident that God is on his side. As Believers in Jesus Christ, we have that same confidence.

Pray Using The Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, thank you for tears. We acknowledge that our tears help us identify and deal with our feelings. 
  2. Lord Jesus, thank you for letting us know crying is okay by collecting our tears in a bottle. We admit we don’t understand how this is done.
  3. We confess that it is comforting to know that our tears are noticed by God, that He keeps track of our tears and is here with us when we are crying as He collects the tears.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Are you holding your emotions in check or are you letting go and trusting in God to comfort you? Remember a time when you felt overwhelmed with the news of your loved one’s chronic illness. Did you suppress your emotions or did you allow yourself to cry and tell God how you were feeling? Explain. 
  2. Have you given your loved one permission to cry? Sometimes the mere ministry of your presence and telling them it is okay to cry will provide a needed release for them and you. Say out loud, “[Enter loved one’s name], I just want you to know, it is okay to cry. Sometimes I weep and let the tears flow too.” 
  3. List two times you have been in sorrow concerning your loved one’s illness. Have you cried out to God with your concerns? Read  2 Samuel 22:7. The verse is a reminder that when we cry out to God in our distress, our cries are heard by the Lord. The passage tells us our cries “enter His ears.”