Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Three

Take Care of Yourself

Knowing that illness and disease ultimately destroy the body makes not losing hope difficult when caregiving for a loved one with a chronic illness. We cannot care for someone if we allow ourselves to become exhausted or sick. Our staying healthy is essential.

Our caregiving should include taking care of ourselves. This self-care comprises of eating correctly, exercising on a regular basis, and getting enough sleep. In addition to caring for our physical needs, there is an equally crucial fourth element. 

What is that fourth element? We must also make sure we renew our spiritual side daily. We need to do as Psalm 46:10a New Living Translation says, “Be still, and know that I am God!” We need to rest in the Lord.

In today’s verse, God is merely pointing out we should view all earthly adversity in comparison with our future heavenly glory. When we do this, we should be strengthened to endure our human trials.

My Story

My wife Benita and I shared the same cardiologist. I saw him because of blood pressure issues and having experienced two transient ischemic attacks or TIAs that put me in the hospital. What’s a TIA? A TIA is also commonly known as a mini-stroke. 

My wife saw him for heart testing. He every few months performed an electrocardiogram (EKG) on her to ensure her heart was healthy enough for the chemotherapy medications and radiation treatments she endured over her two years and ten months of treatments for her Melanoma Cancer.

Our cardiologist would tell me it was important to care for myself where I could care for my wife. He would also remind me of Benita’s next EKG appointment.

In March of 2017, I was diagnosed with Lichen Planus, both the oral and on other parts of the body types. It has an unknown cause and is not contagious. It is an autoimmune disorder. Some feel it is brought on from an injury to the mouth, having an oral infection, taking certain medications, or having an allergic reaction to something that came in contact with the mouth, like food or dental appliances. Almost all physicians agree Oral Lichen Planus happens most often when a person finds themselves under extreme stress and has not taken everyday stress reduction actions. 

In March 2018 I was diagnosed with colitis. It has an unknown cause and is not contagious. It is an autoimmune disorder. Again, the disease has multiple probable causes, and most doctors feel it is brought on or aggravated by extreme stress. 

I share the above to say my physicians feel the stress I was under caring for my wife, my father, and my mother and my failing to take care of myself may have contributed to me developing two chronic illnesses. The physicians felt I lacked balance in caring for others with taking care of myself.

In my mid-60s, I find exercise challenging. My activity of choice is walking. I monitor by walking with a smartwatch. I have a daily goal of walking at least 10,000 steps. My walking happens in the climate-controlled environment of the local shopping mall or giant box stores.

No, I don’t make the goal every day. However, I manage to reach the goal between five and six times a week. Does it help? Yes, it helps. My body notices when I miss a couple of days.

The Bible Says

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (KJV), “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

The Meaning of the Bible Verse

While our bodies (that is, the outward man) grow old and suffer from diseases, our spiritual side (that is, the inward man) is renewed daily. Too often we only focus on the things we see in this present life. Way back in the 1960’s there was a hit song that became an anthem for the baby boomer generation. Its title was “Live for Today.”

Sure, we have to live for today by exercising our daily responsibilities. We need to also focus on the spiritual, that is the things that are not seen but given to us by God as a future promise. 

These are only seen with our “spiritual eyes.” It takes faith. A part of faith is believing that what God has promised he will undoubtedly bring to pass. 

I believe.

Pray Using the Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, help us to focus on you and not lose heart. 
  2. Lord Jesus, while our outer body is perishing, yet our inward man or body is being renewed daily.
  3. God, we realize the chronic illness we are facing won’t last forever but is working in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Lord God, help us to not look at our circumstances which are temporary but to look at the things that are not now seen, but eternal.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Are you taking care of yourself physically? Do you have a regular exercise program? If not, see your physician before beginning one to make sure you are healthy enough for exercise. Are you getting enough rest and sleep?
  2. Are you taking care of yourself spiritually? This is done by knowing Jesus as your Lord and Savior and spending time in prayer and Bible reading. It can be as simple as reading a chapter from the Book of Proverbs each day of the month.
  3. Does your patient or loved one know Christ as Savior? Have you ever talked to them about their spiritual condition? Their hope for the future is in Jesus Christ. Only through Jesus will they have heaven as their ultimate residence.

Photo Source: Pixabay

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Author: Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D.

Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a full-time writer. He was born in San Antonio, Texas, to a career military father and stay at home mother. He lived in six states and attended eight different schools before graduating high school. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in History with minors in English and Military Science from The University of Texas at Arlington, Master of Arts and Master of Religious Education degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as the Doctor of Education degree. Before writing full-time, he worked as a US Army officer for 10-years, religious educator for 18-years, and as an IT software application engineer for over 20-years. He is a widower. He lives in North Texas with his cat Lacey.

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