by Kathy Howard
Our great God never wastes anything. No struggle is fruitless. No pain futile. No challenge in vain. God can work in and through every situation He allows into our lives – even the worst of circumstances – to bring about our good and His glory.
My caregiving journey was still fairly new when I realized God wanted to use the experience to do something in me. If I would cooperate, my relationship with my father-in-law would be a tool in His hand to shape my character and refine my faith.
When Wayne’s dad first moved in with us, he was fairly independent. But as time passed, he needed us more and more. With Wayne commuting a long distance to work, much of the responsibility logically fell to me. But Pappaw’s growing dependence exposed the rough places in my character and areas of spiritual immaturity.
So many things bubbled to the surface – like selfishness, impatience, and shallowness. Every day seemed to reveal another layer of my sinful flesh. Irritation quickly rose up when a last-minute doctor’s appointment meant I had to cancel a lunch date. And instead of responding to his occasional harsh words with gentleness and grace, I sometimes uttered sharp words of frustration.
The demands and pressures of parenting my father-in-law did not cause these sinful attitudes and actions. The relationship merely jostled my heart, causing what was already there to spill out (Matthew 12:34).
In our human weakness, we ache for our struggles to end. We long for the hardness of life to ease. Yet God wants much more for us than an easy life in this world. He wants to make us like His Son (Romans 8:28-30). He wants our lives to bring Him glory and point others to Jesus.
God will use every possible means to rid our lives of sin and shape us into the likeness of Christ. One of His primary shaping tools is trials (1 Peter 1:6-7). In God’s skillful hands, life’s difficulties and challenges perform like a chisel on our hearts and souls, shaving off sinful rough spots, cutting notches, creating gentle curves, and forming smooth bevels.
Yet, sometimes I’m my own worst enemy. Rather than submitting myself to the Master Craftsman and trusting His refining process, I fight God’s purposeful work. I doubt God’s goodness and faithfulness. I complain that He isn’t working. That He doesn’t care. That surely, He doesn’t see our plight.
Do you ever feel the same way? Too often, God’s children walk through our days near-sighted. We only see the struggles, challenges, and trials at hand, forgetting that the eternal glory awaiting us far outshines these light and momentary troubles (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Be assured, God knows your every physical need and struggle. He sees your sleepless nights, your tired muscles, and your frayed emotions. He hears your groans, your sighs, and your prayers. He is keenly aware that you are often overworked, overstressed, and overlooked. He not only knows it all, He cares. He cares that you hurt and grieve for yourself and your parents.
This temporary struggle – no matter how difficult – cannot compare to God’s eternal purposes for you and your loved ones. Keep your eyes on the prize of God’s glorious salvation (1 Peter 1:9). Rest in the assurance that God will not waste a single tear. And embrace the joy of Christ. It’s yours today.
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
About the author: Kathy Howard‘s new book, 30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents releases TODAY!! Struggling to navigate the parent/child role reversal? This new devotional book explores God’s Word to find hope and encouragement for the wide range of physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual challenges the adult child caregiver may experience. Each of the 30 devotions – which can also serve as a guide for a daily quiet time – includes a Scripture passage, a real-life illustration, biblical commentary/application, and questions for reflection.
You can find a sample of 30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents here.
Join the conversation: Can you see God working in the midst of your trials? In what ways have you fought God’s refining process?