Care for the Care-giver

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Mar 1:45 … And they came to Him [Jesus] from every quarter. 

 

I feel like I have been a care-giver, in one way or another, for almost all my life. As the oldest child, I often felt responsible for looking out for the well-being of my two younger sisters. As a daughter, I have been very concerned about the health and happiness of my mother throughout the various trials and tribulations of her life. I have been a wife since I was 18 years old and have looked after the needs of two husbands, both of whom had various issues, including frequent, severe headaches. I am the mother of two sons, and although they are now adults with families of their own, I am still frequently called upon to be a listener, comforter and encourager. I also have the somewhat unenviable and dubious role as a not-really step-mom to two adult children, one of whom is living with us for a time. On top of all of these day-to-day care-giving rolls, I have also been a long-term care nurse, women’s fellowship leader, adult Sunday school teacher, and community volunteer.

It seems that being a care-giver is a natural aspect of my personality and use of my God-given gifts. So it would also seem that doing all these different care-giving jobs would be easy, joyful and fulfilling – NOT!

Being a care-giver can be wonderful, joyful and fulfilling, but often as not, it is draining – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. When this happens, I ask the question, “who cares for the caregiver”? Unfortunately, I have found that if I am hoping for, or counting on, other human beings to fill that need, I am often left feeling very disappointed which can then lead to feelings of bitterness, resentment and anger – not good!

Now some may say that being in service to others should leave us feeling filled and energized and that if we are not feeling that way, we are either doing something wrong or not using our gifts and talents where they are best suited. I agree that there may be some truth to that, and thus we should always seek God’s wisdom, discernment and wise counsel on how best to use what He has given to us. However, even the greatest care-giver, Jesus Christ, appears to have felt stretched thin, worn out and worn down at times by the cares of those to whom he was ministering.

Mat 26:37,38 And He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with Him, and He  [Jesus]began to be sorrowful and very heavy.  Then He said to them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.

So what are we, the caregivers, supposed to do when we begin to feel stretched thin, worn out and worn down? We need to follow Jesus’ example in these situations.

Jesus chose people. He surrounded himself with the people that he chose to help him carry out his Kingdom work.

Mat 4:18-22 And walking by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea. For they were fishermen. And He said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they immediately left their nets and followed him. And going on from there, he saw another two brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. And He called them; and they immediately left the boat and their father and followed Him.

Luk 6:13-15 And when it was day, He called His disciples. And He chose twelve of them, whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew;  Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alpheus, and Simon who was called Zelotes; Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, who also became the betrayer.

Besides the disciples and apostles who helped Jesus with his ministry, there also were people, like Mary Magdalene, who followed Jesus and ministered care unto him.

Mat 27:55,56 And many of the women were there, watching from a distance, those who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, watching from a distance; among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.

Luk 8:1-3 And it happened afterwards, He traveled in every city and village, proclaiming and announcing the gospel of the kingdom of God. And the Twelve were with Him, and also certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities; Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who ministered to Him of their possessions.

When you are involved in a lot of care giving, pouring yourself out for others, you need to make sure that you also have a human support system in place. Make sure you spend time with people who can encourage, comfort, support and bless you. I am very blessed to have some special people in my life to whom I can turn to when I need encouragement and support.

However, people, being flawed humans, can disappoint you and let you down, even the ones you can normally count upon. Jesus faced this very issue at the Garden of Gethsemane.

Mat 26:36-41 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane. And He said to the disciples, Sit here while I go and pray there. And He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then He said to them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Wait here and watch with Me.  And He went a little further and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will. And He came to the disciples and found them asleep. And He said to Peter, What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Jesus knew and understood the frailties and failures of humanity, so when Man failed him, or when he needed spiritual re-charging, comforting, support and encouragement, Jesus took the most important step – he went to the One in whom he could always trust and count upon to be there for him –  he went to his Heavenly Father in prayer.

Mat 14:23 And when He had sent the crowds away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray.

Mar 1:34, 35 And He healed many who were sick of different diseases, and cast out many demons. And He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.  And rising up quite early in the night, He went out and went away into a deserted place, and He was praying there.

Luk 5:15,16 But the word about Him spread even more. And great crowds were coming to hear, and to be healed from their infirmities by Him. But He [Jesus] was drawing back in the wilderness, and praying.

Luk 6:12 And it happened in those days that He [Jesus] went out into a mountain to pray, and He was spending the night in prayer to God.

So when my care-giving duties leave me feeling wrung out, worn down, and discouraged, I need to remind myself to follow Jesus’ example. I need to reach out and spend time with the One who is able to give me all that I need to continue serving others with love.

Eph 3:20 Now to him who is able to do in full measure more than all our desires or thoughts, through the power which is working in us, To him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations for ever and ever. So be it.

 

 

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