Within the last 24 hours, I had a phone call from a friend whose father was being rushed to the emergency room (she called as she was en route to the hospital) and an email from another whose mother was being resettled into a nursing facility after a fall. I attended the memorial for one of my mother’s contemporaries whose children watched her die in a long battle with cancer. While socializing there, I cried with an acquaintance whose mother (living thousands of miles away) is tottering between life and death after having a stroke, and stood with another whose sister-in-law is in a rehab hospital. (To make matters worse, the patient’s husband is in the grips of advanced dementia.)
I assured all of them that I would carry them to the Father in prayer. And I will continue to do so. But, in one sense, that seems so little for me to do.
As you each will attest, these crises are all too common as we watch our loved ones age. And they take a toll on us as we stand by helplessly, entrusting our precious loved ones into the care of medical teams made up, by and large, of strangers. But do our prayers really do anything for our fellow caregivers or care receivers in crisis?
Truly the caregiver’s life is filled with trauma, emergency, upheaval, guilt, and distress. Perhaps that’s why the Scripture I want to share with you today jumps off the page for me.
The setting is when the Prophet Daniel received a terribly unsettling revelation from the Lord. It troubled him so that he could do absolutely nothing but pour his heart out to God. He didn’t eat. He didn’t sleep. He didn’t tend to personal hygiene. (Does that sound at all like the life of a caregiver in crisis?) For 21 days this went on. (Seeming interminable, just like our heavy-duty caring times.) And then, in a moment, a messenger from heaven showed up.
Did that messenger berate Daniel for his tears? Did he tell the prophet to buck up? Did he bull right in with the discouraging diagnosis? Did he tell Daniel to stop praying and do something more productive? None of the above. Here’s the way Daniel recorded what happened:
“No strength was left in me; my face grew deathly pale, and I was powerless. … Suddenly, a hand touched me and raised me to my hands and knees. He said to me, ‘Daniel, you are a man treasured ⌊by God⌋. Understand the words that I’m saying to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you.’ After he said this to me, I stood trembling. ‘Don’t be afraid, Daniel,’ he said to me, ‘for from the first day that you purposed to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers’” (Daniel 10:8-12, HCSB).
Three phrases jump out at me, as if they were ablaze in neon lights:
--“you are … treasured by God”
--“don’t be afraid”
--“your prayers were heard”
My friends whose parents are in crisis this day (and those of us who are in breather moments between crises), take heart. Not only does God see your exhaustion—feel your lack of strength and your powerlessness in the face of crisis, but He sends an answer—a response to your prayers.
Whatever you’re facing today, know this for a fact:
--You are treasured by God.
--You don’t need to remain afraid. (Think of the words of David, in Psalm 23: “I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”)
--And, most of all, God hears and is even now acting on your behalf.
Treasured one, be strong and stand on your feet, for the Lord who loves you is beside you today. He was there with His servants in days past, He is with each of us today, and He will be always and forever with us.
I pray that these truths from the Word will hearten and strengthen you for today’s task.
© 2010, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: firstname.lastname@example.org