Misdirected fight

We seem to take on the wrong enemy. We’ll try to fight Alzheimer’s. We’ll try to fight addiction. We’ll try to fight amputation. We’ll try to fight injury or illnesses we’re not prepared, equipped or in any way capable of doing. My wife is a double amputee. I cannot fight amputation. But, I can fight cholesterol. I can fight being a jerk. These are things I can fight.

How about you? What can you fight? What can you successfully wage war against in your life? 

Maybe your child suffers from a devastating disease that is just beyond the pale. You can’t fight those things. You may feel guilty for bringing that child into the world, but you can’t fight that. Yet, you can fight bitterness and resentment. You can do that. Scripture says that you can and it gives you the path to be able to do that. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Waging War Against the Wrong Enemy

I know people who have committed their entire lives to waging war against their loved one’s affliction. I know these people and I can see the weariness, the bone weariness and the despair, but they keep pushing themselves to inhuman levels; somehow thinking that “If I can get them here, then I can be happy and I can rest and do my thing.”

How is that working for you? How are you doing with that? 

“If I could just get daddy to stop drinking …”

“If I can just get my daughter to stop acting or making these terrible decisions…”

“If I can just get my spouse to get to the bathroom instead of making a mess everywhere else…”

“They can remember what channel Law and Order comes on, but they can’t remember to go to the bathroom…”

“If I could just get them to do that, then maybe I could have some peace.”

Scripture says we could have peace no matter what.

Caregivers understand "...sorrows like sea billows rolling."

My brother-in-law has a boat and fishes in the Gulf of Mexico. While I’ve never been seasick, I fished with him a few times in some choppy water. One particular time, the waves rolled relentlessly and the boat kept rising and slamming down. It didn’t make me sick, but it just wore me out—and the waves had no plans to stop just because I didn’t like them.

That’s seems like a good picture of our lives as caregivers. It just wears you down. Sorrow comes relentlessly, without mercy, without reprieve — it just keeps coming.

So how do you deal with that?
• How do you cope?
• How do you find your balance?
• How do you find the horizon?
• What does that look like?
• Where is safety?
• Where is that peace of mind that can come?

When awoken in the boat during the storm, Jesus told the disciples “What’s the matter with you guys?” (Loosely paraphrased!)

While He slept in the boat, they thought they’d die. Yet, Jesus spoke “Be still” and the waves and wind calmed down. If you notice, however, Jesus was calm before then—He slept the boat.

How did he do that? Is it just because he was God?

He was very God—yet he was very man. 

All the theologians I’ve talked to – very sharp people – shared that Jesus shelved his divinity. He lived life fully as man, trusting in God, and free to experience life. That’s why he could marvel at the woman who reached up to touch the hem of his garment (Matthew 9:20), or the Roman centurion who said “Hey, look. You’ve just got to give the word. You don’t have to come up. You can just give the word. I get that.” (Loosely paraphrasedagain!) Matthew 8:5-13

Jesus was free to marvel because he shelved His divinity to live life fully as a man. He knew He came to Earth to die, but He also knew he wasn’t going to die on the Sea of Galilee — and he was confident that he could rest. 

How confident are you in the plans that God has for you?

You know, Martin Luther stated in A Mighty Fortress Is Our God – “The body they may kill, but God’s truth abideth still”.

How confident in you that we as individuals can live with that sense of serenity and purposefulness in our lives, even while dealing with these harsh things as caregivers? 

Please do not in any way assume that I own this, While I see the path much clearer, I need reminders to get back on that path just as much as anyone else. Every time I say or hear those reminders, I’m pointed back to safety. Safety is not the absence of conflict or war. Safety is being in the hand of God. Period. Wherever that is.

Safety in the Battle

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.  And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”  So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”

2 Samuel 11:1-5

“In the springtime, when the kings when out to war, David stayed home. King David stayed home.” He should have been out doing his job, but he got tired of it; so he stayed home and just kind of propped his feet up, looked across the roof and guess what? There was Bathsheba. David was in far more danger and caused far more damage by staying out of the battle.

God’s going to lead us through things that will hurt. It’s going to be unpleasant, but He’s working something out in our lives through it—and we can trust Him. Even in our battles as caregivers. But the battle is not against our loved ones or their afflictions. It's against ourselves ...our fears, despair, guilt, resentments, and even self-indulging. 

Yet, we can trust God with all of those things ...with every wearisome and heart-wrenching challenge. We can even trust Him to give us the rest we desire ...even on the battle field.  

How do we know?

Because he stretched out His arms and gave His life for us on the cross.

He fought and bested THE enemy Himself.

He won the war the battles we can't fight, and strengthens us for the ones we can.