Showing posts with label adversity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label adversity. Show all posts

The Power of Silence

Last night I was reading up on a new blog and it was talking about the power of being silent. The writer was discussing pain and adversity and how sometimes there is simply nothing to say and it's okay. This got me to thinking about Job's friends and how when they heard of his distress they came and just sat with him. They didn't say a thing, which we learn later was a good thing! But they just sat and mourned with him in his time of loss.

When my son was first in the hospital I had a friend who did just that. She flew in and came and just sat. I was staying in his room with him as he was in isolation there was room for a couple of chairs. She just sat with me for 4 days. There really wasn't anything to say to make it better....but she was there.

What caregivers find out way too soon is how fast people can just disappear from their lives. When they don't know what to say, or don't know how to make it better, they silently walk away. But it's quite alright to just be there - even if you're silent.

As I was reading I started thinking about a couple of scriptures that match up with this thought. The first one of course is Psalm 46:10 that says Be still (or quiet) and know I am God. And the other one is Deuteronomy  6:4 that says Hear O Israel, the Lord is out God, the Lord alone. In my mind (I haven't researched it yet) Be still  and hear are the same. They are both saying - stop what you are doing for just one minute and listen. 

As caregivers our lives can be so hectic; a single day is filled with all sorts of related tasks we barely have the time to breathe sometimes. If we can get our insides quiet - we can hear Him. He's still there. He's still waiting for us to come to Him - like always. He still loves us. He still wants to hold us - we just have to be still.

Did you ever try to hold a toddler who had other ideas? They wanted to go get this toy, or grab that snack. You can barely keep a wriggling toddler in your lap for just a short bit before they are off to something more exciting. I wonder if caregivers are like toddlers in that we forget to just be. We have so much to do (but we do for real!) that even if we try to be still for a minute our mind is racing about all the things we have yet to do. But there's power in being silent and still.

Isaiah 30:15 says that in quietness and confidence our strength. I'm picturing myself like a little kid all crawled up and snuggled into His lap right now.

Today I will purposefully quiet my soul before Him. I'll let Him hold me and heal my soul. My meditations will be on His peace and His caregiving of me. I will direct my thoughts to how He continues to love, listen, and care for me. And I will be silent as I let His confidence and strength fill my being. Will you join me?





Joseph's Journey

Yesterday I spent more time thinking about how adversity can open the door of hope. My thoughts led me to Joseph. God had given him dreams when he was a young boy and his family had made fun of him and judged him for it. I am sure he wondered some about those dreams as he was imprisoned for something he did not do.

Joseph's situation was dire. First of all, prisons back then were nothing like they are today. While our prisons are not pleasant, they are humane. I figure it had to be a very lonely place for Joseph. His family was far away and they weren't coming to look for him. Did he think back about those childhood dreams?  I wonder if he thought about his brothers and family while he was there. Did he ever think about what it would have been like if he hadn't been betrayed and sold by his brothers?

I also wonder if forgiveness and acceptance were daily choices for Joseph. In my situation, someone else caused the accident which injured my son and made me a caregiver. Sometimes I think about what my son would have been doing if the accident hadn't occurred. This can easily make forgiveness a daily choice. Just like Joseph most likely sat in a dark prison, caregiving can seem very dark and lonely at times. But it doesn't mean the dreams are dead.

God didn't say, I know I gave you dreams Joseph, I just forgot this other stuff was going to happen. He didn't erase the dreams because of life's adverse situations. Instead, the prison became its own door of hope. Of course, we read these chapters in a few minutes while Joseph lived out years of his life. In one chapter we see that he is brought out of prison and becomes a great leader. In another his brothers come seeking food and there is a great reunion. And then they lived happily ever after.

Joseph's dreams came true but not in the way he thought they would; and not in the time frame he would have probably preferred. His adversity became a door of hope for his whole family. And in the end, his dreams played out just like God had promised.

Caregiving can be a lonely place and it can seem like there is never a light in the end of the tunnel. But just like Joseph we have choices even in our situation. We can choose to forgive, and keep trusting God or we can quit. It's as simple as that. Maybe life isn't playing out like we thought, and maybe our dreams seem on hold. But we have a choice over our attitude and whether we will use adversity to find hope or use it as an excuse to become bitter. Me? I choose to look for the door of hope each day. Some days I have to look harder than others to find the positives, to find hope. But it's there if we look for it.

Today I will meditate on the hope that knowing Him brings. I will purposefully look for the positives today and rest in hope even in adversity. I will set my mind on things above and let God handle the big stuff. I will choose to forgive and I will keep dreaming even when it looks impossible. Will you join me?

A Door of Hope

The first couple of chapters of Exodus contains two things that I have found very interesting. In the first chapter  I found it interesting that the midwives were directly blessed by God for disobeying Pharaoh. Verse 21 state that they feared God and He established households for them.  Even though it was a very tough time for them and their people, they continued to trust and fear the Lord rather than caving in to man's evil commands.

In chapter 2 we read about the birth of Moses and how his mother protected him until he was found by Pharaoh's daughter in a basket in the Nile. Those who are familiar with scripture know that as the story unfolds, Moses becomes the deliverer who God uses to take His children out of Egypt's bondage and into the promised land. This time of great adversity became a door of hope for the Children of Israel.

The caregiver's life can be filled with adversity and some days every breath can be a struggle. But there's a scripture in Hosea 2:15 that says the valley of achor will be a door of hope. "Achor" means pain or trouble. Sometimes when we are facing another day of caregiving we can't see the hope that lies beyond our present circumstances. And there are times when we are so busy with caregiving that we forget there is anything else out there. But adversity gives way to hope.

For me personally, I was able to become a writer after becoming a caregiver. When my son was injured I began looking for work I could do online because I knew he was going to need care for the long haul. It was an area I would have never explored before. Over the last couple of years I also completed a Master's degree. I would not have taken the time to do that had I not been in this situation. While those things do not make the caregiving go away - they give me hope that I can make a living for us without compromising the care of my son.

Adversity has a way of bringing out the best and the worst of us! If we can take a deep breath, manage our attitude, and move forward with grace there is hope. Moses didn't look like a leader lying in that basket floating in the Nile. The midwives were not trying to change a nation, they just desired to honor God. The times of adversity that they faced were painful and trying at best - just like caregiving. But the adversity gave way to hope for an entire nation of people.

Our struggles are making us stronger in faith whether we recognize it or not. Just like the butterfly's wings are strong enough to fly because of the fight to get out of the cocoon, our faith becomes strong as we fight to face each day. And faith gives way to hope; and there is no shame in hope.

Today I will meditate on His faith-full-ness when my faith feels so small. I will turn my thoughts to the good things that have happened since I became a caregiver. I will look at my adversity as a doorway for hope and allow it to enter my heart and life to bring about grace and change. Will you join me?

Shielded from What?

In Genesis 15, God told Abraham, "I am your shield." Why would Abraham need a shield  and why would God need to announce it? It was a little rough going for Abraham at the time, so you have to wonder what he thought about this Divine declaration. It certainly didn't mean that the father of our faith was going to be exempt from adversity. The preceding chapters indicate that Abraham had been going through a tough time.

In chapter 12 he faced a severe famine and had to relocate. After he relocated, he must have experienced fear thinking that the king was going to kill him off to take his wife. Moving (chapter 13) always brings change and that's never comfortable. Then also in chapter 13 his men fought with Lot's men so intensely that they had to part ways. Lot, his nephew was then kidnapped in chapter 14 and Abraham led a small scale war to go get him back! Times were not easy when God said, I am your shield.

Actually, the fact that he even needed to be shielded at all lets us know that life was turbulent. It certainly didn't exempt him from adversity. In the next couple of chapters Sarah and Hagar are going to have a huge fight and Abraham is going to witness the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Once again scriptures demonstrate that faith does not indicate the absence of adversity or in this case, adversities. But it does show us that even in the midst of trials and tribulations God protects us. While He doesn't protect us from the trouble itself - He does protect our souls. He shields the part of us that matters most - the living part. He keeps our souls from damage during life's deepest, darkest moments. And although we are not spared from the trials themselves, we can rest in  those times knowing that He has us in His hands no matter what life throws at us.

Our soul's salvation - our spiritual well being cannot be damaged by the things life hurls at us. In Ephesians 6, Paul tells us above all - take up the shield of faith.  Faith is trusting that God has our back even in the worst of times.

Today I will meditate on the truth that He has me in the palm of His hand and I'll choose to see myself in His heart where my soul is safe from harm. Will  you join me?

Do We Look Like Him?

If we really take time to think about it, caregivers look a lot like Him. I know, we will all modestly say, "Oh,no we are far from that." But this week in our devotions I want to look at some ways that we do look like Him. (That is the point of Christianity isn't it?) Now I'm not saying we are perfect, or that we have it all together because that is probably not going to ever happen in a caregiver's world. But day after day we continue to care for our loved one(s) without giving up. If we take a serious look, we'll find that we do indeed have Christ-like qualities.

In the New Living Translation, Romans 2:4 is translated this way: Don't you realize how kind, tolerant and patient God is with you? God patiently waits for His children to come to Him. We patiently care for our loved one day after day - whether we see any change or have any hope that the situation will change or not. All of that is irrelevant to providing care.

Have you ever heard someone referred to as having "the patience of Job"? He was very patient during his time of tribulation. Once again we see a man face great adversity and patiently wait for God to act. If I am honest, I am usually more patient with the one I am caring for than I am with God. Job uttered these words that "faith-ers" like to ignore: Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad? So in all this, Job said nothing wrong. (Job 2:10 NLT) In our world "God is good" is way overused especially when things are going great. When the bank account is full, bills are paid, health is stable, then we are happy, happy, happy; and God is good. But is He not still good when things are going downhill? If He is the God we proclaim Him to be - He is God and He is Good - no matter how our circumstances change. And for the caregiver our circumstances can change in a split second.

The fact that we are still clinging to Him in the midst of the trial is proof that we have patience. To run to Him in the storm proves we are still patiently waiting on Him. And day after day as we patiently care for our loved ones whether we observe positive changes or not - we show patience. Today I will meditate on how patient God is with me and how He patiently waits for me to bring my life to Him. Will you join me?


The God Who Sees

It is difficult to understand the life of caregiving unless you are a caregiver. And even then, each situation is so very unique we do not always have the capacity to understand each others' situations. Sometimes it hurts most when those we think are supposed to care do not seem to. That can be family, friends or health care professionals. It's really frustrating when they don't get it. You know?

Sometimes one of the most frustrating things about caregiving is the inability to have a schedule. We can keep a shell of one, but it seems there's always something that comes along to disrupt it. Our loved one has a bad day, aides don't show up, nurses decide to come during the only time you were going to have to yourself for the week....yes that really happened! And the load becomes heavier...not even because of the caregiving itself, but because of all the baggage that comes along with caregiving.

This morning has been one of those mornings for me; made up of those situations that make the regular load just a little bit heavier. But my mind went to Hagar. She's not usually one of our favorites by any means even though the situation was not totally her fault. In Genesis 16 she bears some of the blame since she was taunting Sarah. I suppose I found it comforting that God met her where she was even though she was not perfect. Most of us did nothing wrong to end up in a caregiving situation, so I guess it makes the possibility of God seeking us out more likely! lol.

Hagar was distraught and had run away from her mistress who was treating her harshly.  She was pregnant (thank God that's not a factor!), being treated badly because she mouthed off, and was stuck out in the desert with no one to see after her. But God found her. It's not the encounter I want to focus on though, it's what she said afterwards. In Genesis 16:13 Hagar said, the God Who sees me."  She existed to God and that mattered.

Today I will meditate on the fact that I am not out here alone. That God does indeed see me; that will carry me through this day. He sees me...

Sow What!

The life of a caregiver does not include enough time to get bored. And although the loneliness can chip away at our soul, there are never two days alike and plenty of chores that simply must be done every single day to keep us plenty busy. Sometimes I look at how much I need to get done in a day and wonder if I will make it. Many times I wonder what it is that God wants from me...from here. Life looks so different now. Years have been spent doing the religious things and sadly enough it seems I am so guilty of mistaking those activities for relationship. But these circumstances did not take Him by surprise - He sort of planned ahead for them.

In Psalm 97 there are a couple of very interesting points. Verse 10 reminds us that we are to hate evil and love God. There are no stipulations for when times get tough or situations change; it's always the same. But the next part of verse 10 says that He preserves the souls (not the bodies)  of His godly ones; He delivers them from the hand of the wicked. This is so comforting I think. He will preserve and protect my soul. No circumstance, no situation, no occurrence can harm my soul or my salvation. Salvation cannot be altered by trials or tribulations; my soul is safely secured in Him.

Verse 11 is what really caught my eye this morning. It says light is sown like seed for the righteous and gladness for the upright in heart. Of course my first thought was how does that work? After a little meditation I think I got an answer. He sows seeds of light for those who are righteous so that when it is dark - we can still find our way. He sows gladness for the upright so that when trouble abounds - we can still be glad in Him. He planned ahead for our adversity. It does not say that He handed us light or gladness; it does not say that he gives it out when we come to Him. No - He planted it and allowed it time to grow and mature for the exact time we would face our darkest hour. He prepared light for us to be able to see Him in the darkness life brings our way.

He has equipped us to walk this journey hidden in Him no matter what troubles present themselves along the way. Today rejoice in the truth that you are a child of the light - and that He has removed you from the kingdom of darkness and placed you in His kingdom of light - the light He prepared for you to walk in!

Perfect Peace

Sometimes we look at the Old Testament prophets and think that their message was all gloom and doom with a few prophecies about the coming of Christ or the end times mixed in. But in reality, they were just people like us with a message from God. Not only did they go through many of the same things we do but they were moved with much compassion for the people of God.

Ezekiel's wife died and Elisha died of an illness. They dealt with life just like we do. Right in the midst of their words of reproof and judgment we can find many shades of grace. When we see all that they were dealing with at the time and then read a passage like Isaiah 25 and 26 it can bring much comfort to us.

We perceive prophets as very hard nosed, hard headed people. (And usually they are!) But Isaiah also understood the protection of the Lord and how to trust Him in adversity. In Isaiah 25:4 the prophet describes the Lord as a refuge from the storm and a  shade from the heat. Then in chapter 26 he continues with how the Lord will keep those whose minds are stayed on Him in perfect peace. What a thought! And here's the prophet's explanation of how that works.

He first says that we are steadfast if we keep our mind on Him. Then he says "because he trusts in you."  This would indicate to me that when we keep our minds on God it is showing how we trust Him. If we keep our mind on the storm, trial or adversity - we are putting our trust in the situation.

Today - I am aiming for perfect peace. I will keep my mind on the Lord and let Him fill me with His perfect (mature) peace.

The Heart Matters

When I was a church-goer, I was a "worship leader." Psalm 95:6 was one of our favorite choruses to sing "back in the day." Come let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our God our maker. For He is our God, we are the people of His pasture; and the sheep of His hand." I have used this particular verse to teach on worship for many years. When adversity strikes we can tend to think that the rules of engagement concerning our worship have changed. But they have not.

 God still needs us to come and bow before Him in sincere and unadulterated worship. Worship is not just a song we sing on Sunday morning at church. It's a lifestyle of humility before God...that sometimes can be expressed in the words to a song.

 It is so important for us to guard our hearts when we are going through. It is very easy to become hardened by life's circumstances. On down in this particular psalm, the psalmist discusses how the Children of Israel's hearts had become hardened when they had left Egypt and found that they had no water. They began to accuse God and ask where He was. I must say, I have done my share of accusing and asking too. But it is all about where the heart is when we ask.

 Today, consider His provision. Let us position ourselves before Him in a purposeful posture of humility. Let adversity bring us closer to Him rather than allowing our hearts to harden toward Him. He knows...it's now we need Him most!

Do You Fit the Mold?

One thing that really surprised me when I began the walk of a caregiver was the rejection. We try not to take it personal by telling ourselves it's not on purpose, just that people do not quite know what to do with us. We do not fit the normal mode. We cannot always just get up and go out for a cup of coffee, grab a quick brunch with a friend or attend church like we used to. But we still have the same desires and need for friendships and relationships as those who are not caregivers. Rarely does someone cross that line and actually bring us  lunch or a cup of coffee. And there are few (and I thank God for them!) who will come and sit for a few minutes just to chat. But overall there is this rejection that must be dealt with.

 We are in good company. 1 Peter 2:4 has this to say of Christ: and coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God...Jesus had crowds of people following Him until He hit what was perceived as great adversity. Once there was any conflict they fled quicker than they had come! His adversity was greater than they could bear or more than they wished to deal with. And sometimes it feels the same for us - others do not know what to do with us...so they leave. Their intent is not harmful but it causes great pain nonetheless.

 I think one of the most touching scriptures is found in Job 2. It says that when his friends heard of his adversity they all made an appointment (with no cell phones, Internet or facebook) to come to sympathize with him and comfort him. And when they saw him and how badly he was doing physically, they wept. And even though later on we see that they have great problems with their theology - they sat for 7 days and nights with no one speaking a word, for they saw his pain was very great. (Job 2:11-13) This scene is so precious to me because they did not know what to do; they could do nothing to lessen the pain - so they just sat with their friend...no one knows how much that means.

We are still a part of the body of Christ even though we are walking on a different turf. And even though we cannot always go to the physical building to fellowship, and people do not always come to us - we are still one of His living stones mentioned in 1 Peter 2. The body does not consist of one building; but it is made up of all believers from throughout time. We all make up the body - we are all a part. Christ deems us worth dying for - We are just as precious in His eyes as any of His children. So do not let the circumstances make you feel like you are less a part of the body of Christ just because you do not fit the mold. We are still living stones whether we are ignored or not!

But As For Me...

Psalm 59 was written during a very troubling time for David. I admire his writings because David was so open and honest with his emotions and his feelings. He didn't hesitate to say what he really felt. And in general, you never have to ask yourself, I wonder what he meant by that? Psalm 59 doesn't stray from this pattern as David talks about what he hopes God does to his enemy!

 Just about the time the reader thinks that surely David is way off and has lost it he redeems himself with this statement in verse 16: but as for me...

This phrase is then followed by David's declaration over his own heart. He says that he will sing of the Lord's goodness. He says he will not only sing, but do so joyfully. I cannot honestly say that I have been singing joyfully through adverse circumstances. David concentrates on what God is doing and who He is rather than the adversity surrounding him.

He says he will sing of the Lord's strength - not his own.
He'll sing of His lovingkindness...
He'll sing of how the Lord has been his stronghold..and refuge even in distress...

He didn't concentrate on what he felt God wasn't doing for him...but on what God was  doing. I must admit there are times I get frustrated because of the things I feel God is not doing on my behalf. But today, I will meditate on what He is doing around me, through me and in my situation. Will you join me?

Just Like Everyone Else

The life of a caregiver is certainly not an easy one! Yet I am sure that there are far worse circumstances to have to deal with. But this can be a lonely and painful walk. Each day can present various situations that must be overcome; obstacles that seem insurmountable.But we are still breathing; and we are still caregiving - so we must still be learning to trust in Him to take us one more day! Challenging pretty much sums up our lives, doesn't it? lol!

 I have found that just because my life is lived in a cave of adversity, it does not exempt me from the requirements laid out in the Word. So far I have not found one time when there was a command given and special stipulations were given for caregivers; or any other sufferers for that matter. (but I am still looking! lol!) Jesus did not say give to those who ask and do not turn away from those who want to borrow - unless you are a caregiver in which case you don't have to worry about it! It does not read like that anywhere! We still have the same solid word, the same constant commands to follow as everyone else. But this is good - because it also means that we have His peace, comfort and joy accessible to us - just like everyone else!

 So when I read this scripture in Philipians this morning I knew that we do not get a "break" just because we are caregivers: In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. (Philippians 2:14) We do not get an exception on this command even though we live in adversity!

 If we are not careful (maybe I should just say if I am not careful) it is easy to complain about many things. We have lost many things in life that brought us to the journey of caregiving. It is so very important to train our minds to find the things to be thankful for each day. So today instead of letting the situation get us down - let us turn our focus onto the way He has provided for us in the situation. Let us concentrate and meditate on His peace, His love and His care for us even in the midst of life's ongoing storm.

Emotionally Stranded

  I was up late last night - and it wasn't to study my Bible. Lol. I was watching a dumb show. But each episode ended with things up in ...