This morning, I walked outside as my husb& was leaving for work. I noticed the leaves blowing across the yard in blurs of gold, orange & brown. The morning sun felt warm on my shoulders & the sky was cloudless & blue. I stood for a moment in wonder at the beauty of God’s Creation. In my busy life of work & worry, I often forget to look up. The words of Jesus, “Each day has enough trouble of its own,” (Matthew 6:34) is the way I live. Today is all I can deal with.
As I thought about that, it occurred to me that during autumn & winter things die & return to the earth to wait for spring’s renewal. The death that is occurring could devastate us if we didn’t know about the spring. I suddenly felt joyful, realizing that I am able to deal with today because I know about spring! I know that after this period of dying is over, renewal & rebirth will come to us in ways more glorious than we can imagine.
Recently, I received an email from a reader who is a caregiver to her husb&. She said that she accepts that responsibility because she has to, but she would rather be doing it with a joyful heart. I underst& her feelings of resentment & disappointment. I have not entirely conquered those feelings. In fact, as I read her letter, I felt sorry for myself, wishing that I could experience life with a man who feels good, who likes himself, who is confident, & fun to be with.
As harsh as that may sound, I don’t feel guilty about such feelings anymore. Such feelings are normal & a natural reaction to responsibility that is forced upon a person by the chronic illness of a loved one. Good things can come from chronic illness. Compassion, underst&ing, service, patience, commitment, devotion, & love are blessings that come from sharing the trials of life.
However, these things do not come easily & must be developed over long periods of time, persistence & prayer. Chronic illness often interferes with our marriages & sometimes breaks them down, destroying the intimacy that needs to be there. It can frustrate us to the point of hopelessness, making it difficult to put our personal feelings aside & focus instead on positive living.
I cling to a verse that reminds me where to find joy. It is Nehemiah 8:10: “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Joy does not come from marriage, children, friends, money or any earthly circumstance, not even from good health. Joy comes from the Lord; & joy found in Him will give us strength to survive the scars of chronic illness. When joy is spoken of in scripture, it is always connected with God. Joy springs from a spiritual awareness that God loves us unconditionally & extends His grace to us in every trial of our lives.
When we seek joy in God & His love, we can have peace in our hearts in spite of the stress of chronic illness. We must learn to love others as God loves us, because if we don’t, we will continue to be frustrated by the disappointments of life. God underst&s our disappointment & resentment. He forgives us & loves us no matter what. God’s love is healing, & enables us to let go of resentment & serve our loved ones with joyful hearts.
This is a season of thanksgiving. Look in the mirror & remind yourself that spring is coming. Be thankful for the hope that lies in that knowledge & remember that the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Lora Ch&ler has been in a care giving role since 1982 when her husb& began his life-long struggle with pain due to a bone disease. Lora welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.