For ten years my mother suffered from dementia. Until the last three months of her life, my dad was her primary caretaker. At the age of 80, he learned to cook, since she couldn’t any more. As her mind slipped, he gradually took on more and more roles. He dressed her, fed her, cooked her meals and kept their house clean. My role became one of caring for the caretaker. Every Saturday I went to their house, cooked several main dishes, gave Dad some cooking lessons, helped dress and feed mom, helped with their grocery shopping, and provided dad some emotional support. During the week our phone calls became more and more frequent, as dad simply needed to talk with someone. He needed care so he could care for her.
We all understand how crucial it is for caretakers to take care of themselves. If they don’t, who will care for the one who is ill?
In our society, the church is the caretaker for the community. For people’s physical needs, the church gives money and time to assist those struggling, often providing food and clothing. But even more important than providing people’s physical needs is caring for the spiritual needs of the community. If the church doesn’t do that, who will? It is crucial that we take care of our spiritual needs so that we can be caretakers of others. If we don’t routinely examine our own lives, taking our sins to the throne of God for forgiveness, how can we care for others? If we don’t spend regular quiet time in Bible study and prayer, how can we share the good news with those who hunger for it? During difficult times, it’s even more important to care for our own spiritual lives. In Nahum 1:7a, we read, “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” It’s only when we place our trust in God and let Him care for us that we can be effective caretakers of others.