I have a beloved friend who in the midst of a season of unbelievable trials and tragedies faced her husband being diagnosed with cancer and Alzheimer’s. The cancer required surgery and treatment which thank God was successful but the Alzheimer’s raged on.
They did not have the finances to pay for a private care facility nor to hire ongoing professional help at their home. She became the primary caregiver not only to her husband but to someone who had not treated her so very well over the years. In the midst of what surely has been the hardest season of her life, something astoundingly beautiful and remarkable happened.
Previously she had been somewhat of a lukewarm believer in Jesus. She had gone through the motions of being a Christian but had lacked a deeply personal intimate relationship with Jesus. She had served the Lord but not with extreme zeal and passion.
She had read the Bible but it had been more out of obligation and habit than out of exceeding love and devotion with a hunger to grow closer to God and more like Him. From the outside anyway, she had seemed a very religious person but did not appear to desire more than anything to spend time in God’s presence.
Oh, but when she faced these unbelievable trials, and most especially with her husband’s Alzheimer’s and the grueling trials she would come to know day by day in caring for him, she surrendered herself humbly and wholly to Jesus in a way I do not believe she ever had. She learned to pour her heart out to God, she learned to spend time in His presence not out of religious duty but out of sincere desire and need.
She learned to cry out to God in prayer for herself to grow and care for her husband in a godly way. And she learned to cry out to God in prayer for people all around the world with a prayer warrior’s heart day and night not as a religious assignment but as a calling from God.
She had prayed for many, many years for many people, but as her husband’s illness progressed, she poured herself more and more into loving and serving God and others through prayer even as she faced the tough tasks of her husband’s caregiving.
And despite being greatly limited with her time due to her need to be almost constantly with her husband to care for him, she humbly and lovingly took on a beautiful second calling the Lord had given her. To write letters and cards and send care packages to people near and far to share Jesus with them and to show them His love and to point people to Him.
Through this all, as her husband continued to decline in his illness, she grew closer and closer to Jesus. And the closer she became to Him, the more He changed her. As she surrendered herself day by day to God and His will for her, she cried out to Him to change her and help her care for her husband in the right manner. With love, forgiveness, patience, kindness, mercy, etc.
And despite how poorly her husband had treated her at times over the years, instead of using this as an excuse to keep a distance from him or to help him but to do so with dread and self-pity and a rough demeanor and unloving care, she did quite the opposite.
See, she kept crying out to God. And she kept yielding herself to Him. And as she did, the Lord transformed her quite magnificently. Soon enough, by the heart and hand of God, filled with His Holy Spirit, she learned to love her husband with the genuine love of Jesus. And as she did so, God taught her not only to love her husband in this way, but He did a mighty work in her as a whole concerning how she loved any and all others.
She shed so very many tears during this season as God transformed her into the woman of God He created her to be. He used her trials and tribulations to humble her and to bring her to total surrender and ultimately to grow her in His image and to perfect His will and His ways and His character in her.
She still sheds tears. She still is in this season. I am so humbled and privileged to have witnessed all this. And to continue to watch this. And to love her. To be her friend. To be her sister in Jesus. To pray for her when the Lord leads. To encourage her. To be inspired by her. To realize how much more growing I have to do.
Friend, perhaps you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Or perhaps you have other unbelievable challenges in your life. No matter your life story, no matter your struggles and challenges, whether exceedingly big or miniscule or somewhere in between, each and every one of us should do as my beloved friend has done.
To surrender ourselves humbly and wholly to the Lord Jesus Christ, to cry out to God in prayer day and night, to be filled with and led by His Holy Spirit, to read and live by the Bible, and to yield ourselves to God as He conforms us to the image of Jesus, to learn to love as He loves by the love and power of His Spirit who lives inside those of us who believe in Jesus, and to draw ever nearer to God, to spend time in His presence daily, to become ever more like Him, and to love, love, love Him with all our hearts and others as ourselves.
PLEASE NOTE when we live surrendered to God, He will give us every single ounce of love, strength, power, mercy, grace, forgiveness, care, compassion, comfort, wisdom, direction, fellowship, absolutely all we need to face our trials and tribulations and to press on loving and serving Him with all our hearts and loving others as ourselves.
The key is to believe in Jesus, to live for Jesus, to follow Jesus, to cry out to the Lord in prayer, to ask for and receive love, help, encouragement, and prayer from others, and most of all to be filled with and led by His Spirit, to read and live by the Bible, and to spend time alone with God as we carry on!
“… O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.” Psalms 63:1-8 NKJV