No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Joshua 1:5
Joshua was the one chosen to be the guide for God’s people after Moses. He was the one who was to lead the Israelites into the promised land. There was a rather important caveat to this. God wanted the Israelites to worship and follow only him. He did not want them to fall into the trap of false god’s. During Joshua’s lifetime, the people were faithful to God for the most part. After Joshua’s death, they did worship false god’s. We fall into this trap as well, not following God’s word but following what is culturally acceptable and politically correct as it were. While in the midst of taking care of my mom who suffered from dementia and Parkinson’s, we purposely leaned on God. Mom really was, through our hands, in God’s care.
Over the many years that I served as a respiratory therapist in a children’s hospital, I had many opportunities to observe my patients and their families. I began to notice a difference between those who had a relationship with God, and those of a different faith or no faith at all. I treated many children with chronic illness as well as acute illness. With the children who suffered from a devastating chronic disease, I witnessed marriages dissolve- parents torn apart by the severity of their child’s illness and the prognosis that appeared grim. I saw other marriages grow stronger as the parents drew closer to each other and to God as they dealt with a scary prognosis. I witnessed the same when a child died. The parents who were not Christians had such a difficult time of mourning. They had no church family to lean on for support, they had no God to pray to for mercy and comfort. I mention all of this to say that my husband and I were in a sense at an advantage while dealing with first- my father’s death, my mother’s dementia, and Parkinson’s, and the decision to care for her in our home. In a few more years we would mourn the death of my husband’s mom, dad, and stepfather. Did we have all the answers? Indeed not, in fact, we dealt with confusion and deep grief- even a feeling of being cheated. We learned the hard way to lean on God and each other to get through these difficulties. We found that God strengthened our marriage and allowed us to be a rock for each other. My husband relates that he felt the most fear and despair taking care of mom on a particular day very near the end of her life. It was at lunchtime. She let us know that she was not feeling right and wanted to go back to her room. I told her I would put the rest of her lunch on a tray while my husband started wheeling her back to her room. Not a minute had passed when my distressed husband called for help. I ran into the living room to see mom collapsed, literally sliding out of her chair. My husband feared she was gone, but as I reached her and checked- she was unconscious but still with us. I’m still not sure how we managed to get her back to her room and into her bed. As she was in hospice care at our house there would be no ambulance ride to the hospital. Her hospice nurse felt she had suffered another stroke. She never left her bed again. We asked for help and felt guided by God in the decisions that needed to be made for mom. For so many years I had witnessed the devastation that parents with no belief in God struggled through. I suspect the same difficulties exist for those taking care of their parents who have no faith or belief. It is a daily struggle full of hurdles as it was for us. In the passage above God told Joshua, “ I will never leave you nor forsake you.” God does not change. I pray they will find faith in God through their struggles and lean on his grace and mercy to guide them through.