A Sabbath for Caregivers

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.                                                                  – Hebrews 4:9-10

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There are some days when helping those we care for just plain hurts. We’re exhausted, cranky, have physical pain or illness, and we just feel like we can’t do it today. But there’s this guilt – this sense of “I’m all wrong and selfish” because we just need a day off.

But there’s a reason God gave us the Sabbath in the Old Testament: “Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:3, NIV)

On the days when I feel like I just can’t help my husband – whether it’s because his body refuses to work or because he’s tied up emotionally by his PTSD – I have to remind myself of these passages. Neither of us is going to make it if I don’t get some rest of my own. It’s okay for me to do the bare minimums, and then just snuggle with him on the bed, resting in his arms.

Jesus, your love is so kind and gentle. You take care of me when I cannot care for myself. Please help me to rest in your love, especially on days like these, when I just can’t help other people. I need your strength.

All the Lovely Things

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.                                                                                                                                                    – Philippians 4:8

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Some mornings, when I look at my husband and know it’s going to be one of those days, I want to go back to bed and forget that I have any kind of responsibilities. It’s exhausting to think about what lays ahead when he clearly won’t be making it out of bed, either.

The discouragement can be overwhelming.

But if I intentionally think about the things that God has created that bring joy and excellence into our lives, I find just a hint of motivation to get up and face the day. These lovely things – even in the midst of suffering – are where I find strength. God’s goodness – despite the pain – is where I can rejoice.

Every time you face discouragement, you can remember the beautiful, wonderful, honorable things that exist around you. A flower that fights through the weeds, a flavorful cup of Chai tea, the story of a woman who fought against all odds – these things can motivate you and change you, making you more like Jesus.

Heavenly Father, please help me in my discouragement. Remind me of the good things you’ve given me and the good things you’ve done, so that I can find hope, joy, and motivation to work through the tough moments in life. Whatever is honorable, pure, and lovely is from you. Please remind me of that on days like this.

Take a Walk With Jesus

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

– Luke 5:16

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Sometimes, I have a hard time making space and time for my own relationships, particularly my relationship with God. It’s easy to get caught up in helping loved ones, making sure they have everything they need. The list of things I can do to help my husband on his bad health days is more than enough to eat up my entire day.

But the longer we’ve been married, and the more challenging we’ve found things, the more I’ve missed my old college days when I’d take my “walks with Jesus.” I’d wander the streets of Chicago, praying for an hour making my way through crowds of people who didn’t know me and wouldn’t stop to ask me for help.

Jesus often went to the mountainside to pray alone. His relationship with God was the most important thing for Him. We can learn from His example and withdraw ourselves, even if it’s to the crowded streets of a busy city. We need to step away from our responsibilities to have time without interruption to let God take care of us.

And for me, the simple act of walking alone, without my phone out, without a human companion beside me, gives me that precious time, even if just for 20 minutes.

God, thank you for meeting with me in my limited moments. Please help me to have more time for you; time when I can step away from everything else and just talk to you and listen to your Word. I need you more today than I did yesterday. I love you.

If You Can’t Always Pray, That’s Okay

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.                                                                                                                                           – Galatians 5:1

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My whole life, I’ve been taught that you must read your Bible and pray every single day if you want to be like Jesus. I ritualistically followed this mindset growing up, throughout my college and missionary service years and into my marriage.

But like every other human, I’ve struggled at times to read and pray. And the guilt I’ve felt over not doing so could overwhelm me, until recently when my husband and I were chatting with our pastor. We mentioned our struggle with doing this every single day, especially together, but she stopped us.

“If it’s a legalistic thing that drains life from you, don’t do it! You’ve been set free in Jesus to have a relationship with Him, not be a slave to policy.”

While praying and reading the Bible are good to do every day, if you can’t some days, you don’t have to. Your relationship with God won’t be destroyed because you’re too tired or distracted. And life is so much healthier and happier knowing He’s there for me, and I’m there with Him and that He loves me. No conditions. Not even that one about reading my Bible everyday.

God, thank you that you don’t want a legalistic pursuit of you, but a genuine relationship. Please help me to remember that you love me, even when I can’t spend time with you every single day. Thank you for being such a kind, loving, compassionate friend and lover.