Voice Behind the Tears

 

chris at therapy

I consider myself quite the wordsmith. Besides blogs, devotionals, poetry, and journaling, I write for a living as a freelance writer. But sometimes, even I run out of words. There are just those times when my heart hurts and circumstances overwhelm me. Occasionally, those pent-up emotions leak out in the form of tears, but not often. However, there is a calm assurance in knowing that He hears the voice behind the tears.

That's one of the things that amazes me about God. He really does understand our emotions. He even understands when we don't have words to express our deepest feelings. David said in Psalm 139:3 You are intimately acquainted with all my ways. (Amp) There are just those days that seem to swallow me whole. You know? My emotions get away from me. Fears of the future run through my thoughts. Mistakes from the past try to snatch peace. It's easy for us to get down with the mechanics of caregiving. 

When I get to that point - my words don't even make sense to me! (lol) He still gets me. He still understands. 

When tears form - He hears all the pain, frustration, confusion, and anything else that formed them. 

Somehow, knowing He gets all the things I don't have words for - comforts me and brings peace. From that place of unsolicited peace - arises thanksgiving. How does that even happen? I don't know - but I like it.

I become thankful for things that cannot change. Because as caregivers we know how things can change in an instant! But there are some things that are not dictated by circumstances. They remain. His love. His mercy. His presence. His peace. His patience. (I'm particularly fond of this one! lol)

Today, I will focus on these attributes of God that don't change for anything. They don't fluctuate based on whether I'm having a good day or a bad one. His love, peace, truth, mercy, presence, and all that He is remains. I'll spend today meditating on this truth and thanking Him for just being here. Will you join me?

Inside the Fish

 

chris in the standing frame

As caregivers, we have good days and bad days  - just like everyone else! Actually, the number of caregivers is on the rise as Baby Boomers begin to age and need more personal care. A friend of mine just informed me the other day that his wife has early signs of Alzheimer's. Finding a caregiver-friend isn't as hard as it used to be as there are lots more of us. 

Yet in the midst of all the caregivers, it can be a lonely walk. Maybe we need to meet via zoom too! The latest technological advancements have made it easier to connect. However, in the day-to-day grind of caregiving, it's still easy to feel alone. As I sit here writing this morning's devotion, sipping my coffee, I feel the aloneness. It can be easy to get my focus on that and get lost in it for the rest of the day. 

But before I take that dive, I can help myself avoid it by going back to a scripture I read this morning in my private devotions. I found myself in Psalm 9. Verse 10 in the New Living Translation says, Those who know Your name trust in You, for You O Lord, have never abandoned anyone who searches for You. I stopped and thought about that for some time after I read it this morning.

I'm pretty sure the searching and leaning into God is the important part of this verse. When we do that - He can't help Himself as He leans back toward us. That's one thing I love about Him, that He wants to be with us and reacts to our faintest cry for Him. 

My mind ran through several of my favorite passages as I thought of people in scriptures who were searching for Him. He met Hagar twice when she was searching for Him. He even met Saul on the road to Tarsus, because even though he was committing heinous crimes against the church, his heart was searching for God. Then, I thought of Jonah. 

There he sat in the belly of the whale. He has purposefully and intentionally disobeyed God's command. Yet it says in chapter 2 that Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish. And you know what? God answered. Not out of obligation or pity - but because He saw a heart searching for Him.

As caregivers, it can feel like we are in the belly of the whale. We can feel cut off from others - and the pandemic certainly hasn't helped that! But if God can hear the prayers of Jonah in the belly of the whale - the person who deliberately disobeyed God to end up there- then, I propose - He can hear us too!

Today, I will meditate on the truth that God will not abandon us. Instead, He will meet us right where we are. I'll be thankful that even my bad attitudes are not enough to keep Him away. I'll remind myself that He wants to be with me. He likes walking alongside me through time. And I'll rejoice that He is right here - right now. Will you join me?

The Failure

 


Do you ever feel overwhelmed? I ask this question partly in jest because as caregivers it's a definite "all the time" answer, right? Many nights, I feel like a failure. Actually, most nights as I am preparing to collapse into the bed, all the things I didn't get done dance through my head. I think of all those things left on today's to-do list that will remain on tomorrow's new list. 

As caregivers, there are so many demands made on us every day. Recently, my son has been ill so this increased doctor visits, nurse visits, etc. I know you know the drill. Scheduling these necessary things on already crowded days can totally overwhelm a person who is already overwhelmed, adding to the negative thoughts of being a failure.

Recently, I've learned to identify these negative thoughts as soon as they begin. I start telling myself, "I may not have got this and that done today. But I did get this, this, that, and something else done today." I remind myself that I didn't do "nothing" today. Caregivers have no days where they do nothing, right? It's a busy life no matter what our situations or circumstances. 

As these thoughts were running through my mind this morning, I found myself in scripture. I'm reading in the New Living Translation, and in Psalm 73:22 I find this scripture. Asaph, the psalmist says, I was so foolish and ignorant, I must have seemed like a senseless animal to You." In context, he is comparing his life with others. That's another trap caregivers fall into. It can seem like everyone else gets to "play" but we are trapped in a caregiver's cave. 

But here's what I want to focus on. The next verse says this, Yet I still belong to You, You are holding my right hand. You will keep on guiding me with Your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Asaph goes on to say, My health may fail and my spirit may grow weak (was he a caregiver too?) but God remains the strength of my heart, He is mine forever. 

What a comfort to know that He continues to walk this journey called life with us. When we feel like we have failed, are feeling overwhelmed, feeling like we are missing out, or any of the other wide range of emotions - He is still holding our hands, and He won't let go. 

Today, instead of focusing on feeling like I never do enough - I'm going to look to the one Who does it all! I'll meditate on how He holds my right hand as I journey through caregiving,  My heart will be set on the truth that He is still leading me and how He has good planned for me and my loved one. While my flesh is weak today - I'll trust in His strength that constantly holds me up. I will trust Him for today - will you join me?

The Application


 Do you ever look at scriptures and wonder if they are really for you? I'm not talking about our "regular" ones that we hold on to through the storm. Passages like Psalm 46:1 - God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble" - those are our stand-bys, right? But other scriptures, like 2 Peter 1. We don't see a lot of caregiving in the Bible and it would be easy for us to think we are exempt from His blessings, right?

I mean it just makes sense that He walks with us through the storms, fires, and deep waters. But if we look at it practically - how do we reap His benefits? Let me say this - we are not ineligible for any of His blessings just because our circumstances are different than most. I've said it before, but it is worth saying again - there are no exclusionary statements for caregivers. Jesus didn't say He would leave His peace for everyone except caregivers, did He? I'm so glad!!

So this morning as I was reading in 2 Peter 1:3-8 I started thinking. We are not exempt from any promise mentioned in the scriptures. But we are also not exempt from any "work" mentioned. In 2 Peter 1:5 (NLT) it says make every effort...Now that just sounds like work, right?

Peter reminds believers that trusting and following God takes effort. The rest of that scripture goes this way - make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life. So - we get the benefits mentioned in the few verses before this one. But then it's up to us to apply them. What are these benefits?

  • His power gives us everything we need for life (natural) and godliness(spiritual).
  • He called us to receive His glory and His goodness!
  • He gives us His "rich and wonderful" promises.
  • He gives us a way to escape the evil desires of this wicked generation.
That's quite a package deal, isn't it?

But we have to apply them to our lives. We cannot reap the benefits of the word if we don't put in the work to believe - and apply. We learn to trust Him - to believe Him - to rely on Him for every aspect of our lives. And then, He brings all that into fruition so we can walk out His peace.

Today, I'm going to be meditating on those four "benefits." That's a lot to think about. While I am thinking about these four things He has given us - I will purposefully take a posture of humility before Him. I want to let Him change me. I am willing. Will you join me?

Can I Trust God with That?


 Hi. I know it's been a while, but I'm back! I've been doing live devotions on Facebook and kind of let this blog go. But I think I'm ready to give it a go again. If anyone understands overwhelm - I know it's my fellow caregivers. While doing my Facebook live devotion this morning, I was sharing a scripture out of Psalm 31 and it just seemed like it fit here - so here goes.

I spend a lot of time in Psalm 31. So much time, I wrote a devotional called 31 Days in Psalm 31. This morning, I was drawn back into this favorite passage. And as usual, something brand new leaped off the page! 

In verses 9-10 David said, Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in distress. My sight is blurred because of my tears. My body and soul are withering away. I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness. Misery has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within. He paints quite a picture, doesn't he? Maybe he is a bit dramatic - but I know that there are those days each of us as caregivers can relate.

Sometimes it feels just as bad as David described. We can feel weighted down underneath the load of responsibilities we bear every single day. There are just times when we need to stop and cry it all out. Maybe we know why - maybe we do not. One thing I love about David - he is gut-level honest about his feelings and emotions. That's actually a very healthy place to be in both mentally and emotionally.

David just pours it all out to God. But then you will notice in verse14, David says But I am trusting You, O Lord, saying, You are my God! He goes on to pray - rescue me! What a picture of trust in the midst of adversity. That's the ultimate. It's easy to say we trust God when everything is hunky-dory and going our way, isn't it? But when our emotions and situations overwhelm us - it becomes a true declaration of faith.

No matter what comes today - I will trust You, Lord!

No matter how I feel or how sad I become - I will trust You, Lord!

No matter how many tears I cry - I will trust You, Lord!

Today, I will make this MY declaration - I am trusting You Lord. Will you join me? 

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The Best Meeting

 


I know I've written quite a few times about Hagar, but her story intrigues me. I think I can relate to the rejection and loneliness she must have felt. In numerous devotions, I've talked about how God met her right where she was. She did have God "find" her twice. But there are other people in the scriptures that God met too.

The list is a bit longer when we start thinking about how many times God met someone along the way. Twice He came and ministered to Hagar, He met Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), He met Balaam and stopped him before he sinned against God (Numbers 22). Jesus went through Samaria on purpose to speak with the woman at the well. He crossed two taboos in their time - going through Samaria and speaking to a woman! (John 4) He walked out to the disciples in a storm in Matthew 8. And the Angel of God came to Gideon when he was hiding from the Midianites in Judges 6.

It's easy for today's religious thinkers to label these Bible characters with negative terms and ideas. Gideon is often said to have no faith - but he is listed in Hebrews 11 among the faith giants. The disciples in the storm are obviously frightened. the woman in Samaria was a woman and unmarried - not worth anything to the religious leaders of the day. Hagar was rejected and we often hear Ishmael mentioned as a curse instead of a blessing. Saul was busy killing Christians. But God chose to meet each of these.

In Isaiah 64:4b-5 it says: ...nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him. You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, who remembers You in Your ways.

God goes out of His way to meet us. He didn't have to meet any of the above-mentioned people. He chose to. He went to those who were rejected and condemned by religion. He sought out those who thought they were beyond hope, beyond reach. Sometimes as a caregiver, the isolation tries to suffocate. It is easy to feel alone- because often - we are. It's easy to feel neglected or rejected by society because too many times- we are. But God will meet us - right where we are in our caregiving messes! lol

We can still wait for Him and He still acts on our behalf. He chooses to meet us in our pain, confusion, and even in our doubts and fears. He calms us, soothes us, comforts us, and often carries us. (Maybe it's just me!) It's the best meeting ever!

Today, I will look for Him to meet me right where I am. I will purposefully wait for Him today and look for Him in my day-to-day. My thoughts will be on how He chooses to walk this journey with me - He won't abandon. He won't reject. He remains faithful even in caregiving. I'll watch Him move in my life today - will you join me in waiting on Him today?


                                                                                                                                          


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore! 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.


 

Living Grief

Eli waling beside Chris' chair

 As caregivers, many of us deal with daily grief and a constant sense of loss. Even though we don't feel these emotions all of the time, they do keep coming back. For me, mine is often sparked by seeing something on my Facebook feed. I'll see one of Chris' friends or a memory and it'll tip my emotional bucket right over. Living grief is one of those things the church doesn't know how to deal with. Well, honestly, who really knows how to deal with it? It's not just going to go away, now is it? :-)

In some hyper-faith circles, grief is pretty much forbidden. Yet even under the old law, it was allowed room. If you lost a close loved one such as a spouse, parent, or sibling, you were given an entire year to mourn. Our culture allows a little time, but then we are expected to be back at work, back at church, or back to our daily lives after a very short time. We just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

But living grief continues. When we deal with parents who have dementia or Alzheimer's, we grieve over who they were even though they are still with us. Many of us are caregivers of children or other family members who suffered injuries in an accident. They are still here, but who they were is gone. Some such as one of my dear friends care for children who have needed intense care since birth. They grieve over children who haven't had the opportunity to even begin a normal life.

Grief is real. It is constant for many. Grief can be debilitating. Yet day after day we climb out of the cave to provide for our loved ones. Oftentimes, we do this while carrying a load of grief that doesn't ever quite go away. It's there. Nagging. I find it easier to work through and get past as time goes on. But it returns over and over to taunt my heart.

How do we overcome such a sense of loss? Is there no end? Usually, I pull up a few scriptures to help me work through them. Stuffing the emotions will cause a giant explosion eventually. So, I pour out everything in my heart to God. I tell Him exactly how I feel It's not like He doesn't know, right? 

Then I begin to remind myself that He gave us THE Comforter. And He walks alongside us. He is here to help us carry our load day after day. I can toss all my cares and concerns over on Him and ask Him for comfort, peace, and wisdom to make it through each day. (Or each hour...or each minute.) Somehow - He always answers and carries me when I need Him most. God is Faithful.

Today, I'll remind myself that no matter where my emotions run - my heart always runs back to Him. My meditations will be on His Faithfulness and how He keeps our souls. I'll think about how He continues to walk through time with us, by choice. Will you join me?

                                                                                                                                          


If you enjoy these devotionals, I have others! I've expanded my bookstore on Amazon. My devotionals are available in Kindle or print format. The new Bible study guides are now available on Kindle and in print! Check out my growing bookstore! 

I also recently opened my own bookstore. I'm presently filling it up with my books - check out the ones I have available in eBook format. You can download them and read them on your phone! Dove's Fire Ministries Bookstore.


 


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