A Word Of Encouragement For People Caring For Sick Family Members

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Being a parent is hard. It’s hard when everything is going well, when there is money in the bank and when the kids are acting like you want them to act.

Being a parent is hard.

But it’s really hard when your kid is sick. I don’t mean the kind of sickness that goes away in a few days with antibiotics. I mean the kind of sickness that keeps you up through the night, the kind of sickness that makes you feel like your second home is a children’s hospital and the kind of sickness that often makes you struggle with trusting God’s plan as you push your son’s wheelchair past a bunch of healthy kids playing soccer.

Being a parent is hard.

And it’s especially hard when you have to be a parent to your parent. It’s hard when, instead of going to your dad for a few words of wisdom, you have to somehow find the right balance between honor and firmness so that he’ll take his medicine. It’s hard when dementia has him thinking that you’re stealing all of his money when in reality you’re trying to save him from financial ruin. And it’s hard when you continually have to pretend to have it all together while one of your greatest examples of human strength slowly withers away.

Being a parent is hard.

When you find yourself in the position of caring for a sick loved one, you are in a constant battle of questioning your decisions. Was it a lack of compassion or was it wisdom to refuse that last treatment? Am I an evil person for looking forward to the end of the day when I can finally unwind? Should I even consider a nursing home?

Through all of the questions, doubts and sleepless nights, there is something that you need to know. You are never more like Jesus than you are when you serve suffering people for the glory of God.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27 (ESV)

If you’ve spent anytime in a good church, you’ve heard that verse before. It has been used countless times to motivate Christians to consider orphans and widows around the world. And that’s a good thing. But you are not somehow less Christlike when the widow you are ministering to happens to be your own mother. In fact, caring for your those under your care is foundational to what it means to follow Jesus.

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8 (ESV)

It’s hard to be the parent of a sick child. It’s hard to be the parent to your parent. And I don’t have all of the answers. The Bible doesn’t tell us which doctor to choose and which treatment option is best. But God does provide grace and wisdom for those decisions (James 1:5-8). And God is glorified through you as you struggle to wear the many hats of parent, child and primary care physician.

He is glorified through your nights spent comforting your sick mother after that day’s cancer treatment did a number on her body.

He is glorified through you when you tie your child’s shoes while other kids his age are driving to school.

He is glorified through you when you fix washing machines, cut grass, plunge toilets, balance checkbooks and all of the other things that your dad used to do for your mom before cancer took him away.

He is glorified most through you when you are acting like Jesus.

And there is no better way to act like Jesus than to take care of the suffering people he has put in your life. So don’t let discouragement or worry get the best of you.

Keep going.

Keep caring.

Keep serving.

Keep praying.

Keep shining the light of Christ before your suffering relatives who otherwise may never see it.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 (ESV)

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