In a caregiving situation, everyone involved enters a period of mourning. The caregiver mourns the life they put on hold. And the person being cared for also mourns the loss of the person they thought they were, vigorous and independent. Both sides assume a new unfamiliar—and unwanted—role.
But with this season of mourning, God invites us to write a new story.
Old age can be a spiritually transformative time. As the pursuit of wealth and reputation disappears, and the allure of material possessions wane, what is left is the immutable—the presence and provision of God.
Caregivers will also develop an awareness of the fragility of life. This can shape and refine us in unexpected ways, making us more attentive, grateful, sympathetic, and humble.
They say that at the end of their life, no one wishes they’d spent more time at the office, but instead more time with their family. Our lives are a slow-burning crucible...when all we thought was important is burnt away—work, homes, belongings, careers, finances, aspirations, power—we realize that the only thing of importance was our loved ones. The elderly have reached that point in their lives. What they’d pursued and invested their time into has all dissolved into oblivion.
Naturally, people make plans for their lives. “By age 30, I will be married and have children.” “By age 50, I will be retired, and move to the suburbs.” Then life happens. The person making plans for their healthy retirement falls ill, and the person making plans to marry has older people to care for instead of infants.
The tension comes when we are too entrenched in our plans to allow our Heavenly Father to redirect us according to His greater purpose. Although we chafe because we do not or cannot see why He has taken us in this direction, let us try something radical: TRUST HIM. God’s purposes may seem ill-fitting and inconvenient in the face of our plans, but we are better off being with God in the black moments than without God in the prosperous moments. Let us listen to Jesus’s invitation: “Come, follow me.”
“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” (Psalm 126:5-6)
“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)
“Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure. Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be. But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” (Psalm 39:4-7)