I don't know if anyone ever "expects" to become a caregiver. Even if we watch our elderly loved ones as they decline with age, we are never quite prepared for caregiving. It really is a day-to-day operation, never knowing what a day will bring, good or bad. We spend some days just trying to keep our heads above water and survive. Other days are a bit easier, even though we mostly live in survival mode.
Caregivers never know what to expect. Who will be there to help us, lift us when we need it? Or will we walk alone on this caregiving journey? Each day, it seems, can bring many unexpected things. Honestly, some mornings, I wake up wondering what will be lost in the next 24 hours. That covers everything from finances to friends, right? In some ways, we adjust our lives to the unexpected stuff. We learn to take the punches (wherever they come from) and keep rolling when it comes to caring for our loved ones. But every once in a while, we do stop and take account of what we have left and what has left.
It can be emotionally trying to adjust to unexpected occurrences in the course of caregiving. But we just keep trusting God and letting Him carry us over the difficult terrain.
I think maybe the apostle Paul did that, too. He gives quite the list of unexpecteds in 2 Corinthians 11, before God explained His great all-sufficient grace in 2 Corinthians. God didn't promise Paul that He would take it all away, did He? Instead, God just basically said - I've got you. And Paul must have trusted Him. In Philemon, we get a glimpse of the fruit that can come from the unexpected.
Paul says that Onesimus became a believer as a result of my ministry here in prison. (v.10 NLT) He was in prison for preaching the gospel, and he still considered himself in the ministry. The fruit of staying connected with God even during the trial that would eventually claim his life - was salvations. Paul had every opportunity to throw in the proverbial towel, yet he chose to continue preaching the gospel - even in chains. Can we take that attitude as we walk out our lives in the "chains" of caregiving?
Surely, Paul also suffered from a sense of loss. His friends were gone. He was literally in chains. There wasn't any Facetime or video chats, no phone calls, or emails to encourage his soul. Yet he continued to trust God and preach the gospel to others. Sometimes, our strongest testimony is shared when others see us continue to trust God in the middle of our storms, in the midst of the unexpected seasons of our lives. Our trust in God in our struggles is a strong, loud message of God's keeping power that resounds in a hurting world and even reaches the heart of God - the One Who gives more grace.
Today, I will continue to trust God right smack dab in the middle of these circumstances. There was no way to prepare for this journey. Smh. But I will look out from my soul's prison cell and see who I can encourage today. I'll let God lead me to souls that are hurting silently or loudly. And I pray the message of His grace (spoken or observed in our lives) will help another soul trust God for one more day.