When I was six years old, my maternal grandmother was in a car wreck that left her paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of her life. At the time, my family never could have imagined the beauty that would shine through amidst the intense pain of watching someone we loved so much suffer like this. However, the Lord showed His faithfulness to us through the people who cared for my grandmother.
The Bible reminds us in 2 Timothy 2:13 in the ESV, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful–for he cannot deny himself.” Even in the midst of the darkest times caring for my grandmother, the Lord remained faithful to us. He sent our family caregivers who were compassionate and who went above and beyond what we asked of them. Looking back on those times now, it is easy to see the Lord’s hand in directing each specific caregiver to our family. They were exactly who we needed at the right time.
He sent us caregivers who loved my grandmother faithfully over the years. They treated her with tenderness and compassion. She was more than a patient to them; she was a dear friend and a sister in Christ. These women served our family over holidays, regular days, and every day in between. Two of them moved to Nashville from Atlanta with my grandparents, selflessly giving up time with their families to care for my grandmother.
These caregivers treated us like we were their own family members, often playing with us grandkids or encouraging our parents and my grandfather. They were an incredible support team, and we grew to love and value them so much.
Annita had tenderly applied my grandmother’s makeup and styled her hair over the last few years of her life, and that gave my grandmother a sense of normalcy and confidence. These were small things, but Annita performed them faithfully because they meant something to her patient.
When my grandmother died, one of her caregivers arranged my grandmother’s scarf over the hole caused by her tracheotomy so that she would look beautiful for the open-casket visitation.
In these small things, the Lord showed us His tender care through the example of the women who served our family so well. They got down on the floor with the grandkids and played when our parents were caring for my grandmother, or even just in their free moments of rest. They hugged us when we needed a hug, worshipped with us in church, accompanied our family to the movies, shopping for Christmas gifts with my grandmother, and did everything with our family. These selfless acts gave all of us a sense of normalcy in the chaos that was caring for someone with a disability. They also reflected the love of Christ and His faithful pursuit of us. Their lavish love was a picture of the Father, and I will forever be thankful for their selflessness and love for us.
All these years later, these women are still in my life. In fact, we were able to meet up last year and have lunch together. We reminisced, and it was a beautiful time of acknowledgment of all of the times we shared (good and bad). The Lord brought so much healing to us through these women. Us grandkids were able to grow up in both the hardship and the beauty of disability, and that is a painful privilege. However, the example the caregivers set is one I hope to reflect in my life.
Ways that we can show faithfulness in painful situations include:
- Caring not only for our friends but for their families.
- Entering into places of pain for others, be in a disability, mental illness, doubt, loss, etc.
- Taking care of smaller details, such as meals and chores, so that families can have more time to process and spend with one another.
- Pray for those who are suffering and hurting.
- Worshipping together.
Intentionally entering into the pain of others is not easy, but it is the example Jesus set for us on the cross at Calvary. He became human and took all of our weaknesses upon Himself simply because He loved us. It was not easy for Jesus either–He sweated blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. He even asked the Father if there was any other way. How many times have we done that? Personally, I know I’ve asked variations of the same question many times over the years. We are not called to act like suffering is the way things are supposed to be. We need to grieve the brokenness and ask God to give us hearts to alleviate suffering as much as we can here on earth.
In order to serve others who are suffering faithfully, we need to ask God to give us the heart of a servant. Jesus’ life gives us the ultimate picture of a servant, which we can never live up to, but the Lord calls us to follow Christ’s example of love for others. In order to do that, we need divine help. We cannot do it on our own, and what a blessing that the Lord gives us what we need! We do not have to earn it or strive without ceasing; we simply need to rest in the Lord and trust Him to give us the resources and compassion we need to care for others.