Unshakable Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Archive for the tag “Caregiver”

Trials Can Make Us Stronger

makes us stronger
I never thought that I would be using a quote from the atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in one of my blog posts, but…

This quote came to my mind the other day and I began thinking about it and the man that wrote it. I spent most of February sick or recovering from the flu and other health issues. What little strength and energy I had before the illness has finally returned in the last few days. I’m definitely not physically stronger than I was before the illness. But I do feel spiritually stronger than I was before my battle with “that which did not kill me.”

As an atheist, Nietzsche only believed in the physical world so I can only assume that this quote was referring to trials making people (himself) physically and/or emotionally stronger. I wonder if he still believed those words while lying helpless and suffering from the effects of Syphilis for the last eleven years of his life.

As someone who has relied on caregivers for even longer than Nietzsche had to (ALS, not Syphilis), I empathize with the helpless, the suffering and their caregivers. But I feel great sympathy for those that do not place their hope and strength in Christ, regardless of the state of their health. I feel sympathy because, like Nietzsche, the “strength” and “hope” that they derive from physical/temporal pleasures do not provide genuine and lasting joy or peace. As King Solomon concluded, it’s “all vanity.”

I am convinced that the following is the only strength that can be gained from “that which does not kill us”:

“…we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed (strengthened) day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 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.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

There are so many great earthly pleasures and blessings, but not even the best of them deserve our hope. If Christ is our hope, the pleasures we enjoy on earth will be so much more enjoyable because we’ll have our priorities in order and we won’t have to rely on the physical/temporal things for happiness.

aim at heaven
“For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” (Romans 8:24-25)

My Need of a Caregiver

ALS is a horrible disease that leads to the body becoming totally paralyzed; the once-healthy and self-reliant victims of this killer eventually become forced to rely on a caregiver for all of their needs.

Coming to rely on my caregiver for help was very difficult and humbling. I had always been so independent and hard-working, and I suppose that I believed these qualities would keep me from ever having to rely on a caregiver. But the more familiar I became with my disease, the more I was forced to admit that my self-reliance and good work-ethic were not enough; I had to accept the fact that I couldn’t do it on my own; I needed a caregiver to help me.

One day, I admitted defeat and began accepting help from my caregiver. However, even after all these years my pride still makes it difficult to rely on someone else for assistance. But, day after day, my patient, selfless and devoted caregiver is always willing to help me. I’m so thankful for that!

Although everything I wrote above is true of my wife, Mary, and Sharlene (the woman that helps her care for me), I was not referring to either them. The process of coming to terms with accepting help for my physical needs was very similar to something that occurred in my life 13 years before being diagnosed with ALS. It was then I came to realize that I was spiritually helpless. And, like ALS, my efforts to conquer this eternally fatal disease through my own efforts were completely useless; I needed a full-time caregiver. After thoroughly reviewing the “résumés” of all the candidates for this most important position, I determined that only Jesus Christ was qualified to be my caregiver (my Lord and Savior).

Thankfully I didn’t have to become a theologian to conclude that the most significant difference between Christianity and every other belief-system can be summed-up by just one word – Grace! Every other belief-system is based on human efforts (“works”) to earn eternal life. They might phrase it differently, but the bottom line message is always the same – “Clean yourself up and God might accept you.” Christians are those that have come to realize they’re incapable of cleaning themselves up enough to stand before a Holy God. Like ALS rendering me physically helpless, all of humanity is spiritually helpless and in need of a spiritual caregiver.

Jesus didn’t wait for us to clean up our act before coming to die for us. In fact, He wouldn’t have had to come at all if we were capable of purifying ourselves. The Bible says it was “…while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Unlike other belief-systems, Christians don’t perform good works hoping to obtain salvation; we do good works because we’ve already obtained salvation.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

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