There’s a picture on my phone that’s hard for me to look at. It’s of me lying on the sofa with our four-year-old daughter lying on my chest. She’s completely bundled up in a thick, furry blanket. It wasn’t a cold day, but because of how sick the cancer had made her, it was the only way she was comfortable.
I remember feeling exhausted. And overwhelmed. And sad. So sad. Deep in my heart, I asked God tough questions about my child’s suffering. I wondered what the days ahead would look like. I lamented that I really didn’t want to be in that caregiving position. After all, caregiving is hard. Not only do we grieve the suffering of our loved one, we also process our own losses.
Caregiving requires us to lay down our preferences and plans and pick up the holy calling of meeting the needs of another. Caregiving also means keeping. Keeping appointments and medicine schedules. Keeping doctor’s numbers and medical details. Keeping up with cleaning, cooking, and other family members’ needs.
In the marathon of caregiving, we might hit a point where we look around and think: In all my caregiving, who cares for me?
The God Who Cares for Caregivers
In Ezekiel 34, God’s people were being led by wicked leaders. They didn’t deal compassionately with the brokenhearted. They didn’t come alongside those who were suffering and to strengthen and protect them. The Lord calls out these leaders and promises that one day he’ll remove them, and he himself would be the perfect caregiver of his people.
“Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them… I will feed them… There they shall lie down in good grazing land… I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep… I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak…” Ezekiel 34:11-16, ESV.
The Gospels show us Jesus’ encounters with the sick and injured and we begin to see how these promises are fulfilled in and through Christ.
- Jesus walked Jairus home while he grieved the death of his young daughter--we see Jesus seeking his sheep and rescuing them. “Like a shepherd he will tend his flock, in his arm he will gather the lambs and carry them in his bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.” Isaiah 40:11, ESV
- We soak in Jesus’ words of comfort and truth to Martha at Lazarus’ graveside. He also feeds us with his Word. “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’” John 6:35, ESV
- Pondering Jesus’ tears with Mary, we glimpse how God binds up the injured and strengthens the weak, healing the brokenhearted and binding up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
- In Jesus’ invitation to worship after healing a man born blind, we wonder about the good grazing land offered to us through our tear-stained praise of God Almighty. “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:1-3. ESV
Remember the Character of God
Caregiving can bring up deep heart questions about God’s goodness and his purposes in suffering. We choose to press in and stand firm on God’s unchanging character--or we decide that God doesn’t truly care for us after all.
I can’t fully wrap my mind around the fact that the Almighty God chooses to draw near to the suffering. It goes against everything my common sense understands about people in power and authority. Yet, Scripture is clear that God’s love toward the hurting is so overwhelming that he left heaven to carry our pain.
If you’re in the trenches of caregiving, or if you’re still processing suffering you watched your loved one endure, hold tight to the promise that “when the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:17-18).
Jesus truly is the perfect fulfillment of God’s promises to care tenderly for you.
Marissa Bondurant writes to encouragement followers of Jesus. This post is an excerpt from her article on the CDM Women’s Ministry blog. Marissa has written Who Cares for You?, a 4-week Bible study for caregivers. Visit her website for to find out more.
Find lots of free spiritual care and self-care Bible studies and articles on the NCF website. Ask for prayer and pray with others.