Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12
Honoring our parents is a command we never outgrow. We may not live directly under their authority, but we are to always show them the love and respect that the Lord commands us to. But how is this command lived out as our parents age and need our help in their day to day care? As Christians how do we look at the care of our parents differently than the world does?
My husband and I are finding ourselves in this next season of our lives. My husband’s parents have moved into our home since my mother-in-law has suffered several major strokes and is bedridden and unresponsive. Mom is in a dining room turned into an intensive care unit, and dad, moving from their two story home, is in one of our spare guest rooms. Changes for them. Changes for us.
Dad needs help in her daily care, and a nursing home wasn’t an option for our family. This wasn’t a difficult decision to bring them into our home because Biblically, this is what we believe we are called to do. Family is important to us. God designed families to care for one another all of their lives – weak and strong, young and old.
Our culture has no grasp on the importance of family
We have allowed the state to take care of our aging population as they become a burden to us. Our older generation has an independent mindset, and they are not always willing to move in with their children. Our generation and our parent’s generation have lost the biblical worldview of the family. Families are segregated and isolated because we live in a culture that idolizes independent living
Women have bought into the lie that having a career outside the home is more fulfilling than staying home and being a wife and mother. This leaves homes with no daughters or daughter-in-laws to care for aging parents and the elderly.
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8
Change has to happen at home within our families as we communicate the importance of caring for grandparents with our children. They must see it modeled and lived out in the carefree times and in the difficult ones too. The world around us has to see us as believers in Jesus Christ live out the command to “love one another”. They should be in awe of the love and care we have for our families. The Gospel must be lived out in our homes. Our lives should be so attractive to non-believers that they would desire to know about the God we serve and love.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35
What Does This Look Like?
No two situations are the same, and it will be different for every family. It involves much prayer, communication and planning. My hope is that you would think Biblically – that your mind would be transformed by the Word of God and the decisions you make would be based on “what does God’s Word say?” not “what is culturally acceptable and convenient.”
The Spiritual Benefits to Our Family
We have been truly blessed and thankful to have mom and dad living with us. Caring for someone who needs round the clock attention can be tiring, challenging and stressful at times. These are the moments we have to look to the One who can supply all our needs and from Whom we draw our strength. Learning to give thanks in and through all circumstances keeps our focus on the eternal and not the temporal.
We don’t get it right all the time. The selfishness and sinfulness of our hearts comes out, but we are learning more and more about God’s grace everyday. We are learning to offer each other much grace and being reminded that “love covers a multitude of sins.” The fruit of the spirit is cultivated daily as the Lord uses this trial to sanctify us and grow us in holiness.
Our faith has been strengthened as we see where our weaknesses lie, and we become more dependent on the Lord in those areas. It is humbling to realize you are not as spiritually strong as you may think you are.
It reveals what I love more than God – This unfortunately is usually myself. What idols of my heart need to be removed from my life through the help of the Holy Spirit so that my contentment is found only in Christ?
It enables us to help others who find themselves in a similar situation. It is hard to be merciful and understanding towards someone until you have experienced the situation they are in yourself. God teaches us much through the trial so we can help others.
Family relationships are grown and cultivated. Dad is now a part of our daily life, and we are still settling in with these new changes to our family structure. We are learning to cherish the moments the Lord has given us with dad and encourage him on the impact he has on his children, grandchildren and great-grandchild.
What is Next?
Outside of a miracle of the Lord, mom is medically not going to get better. The days will be more difficult as time goes on. Where do we find our peace, our comfort? It is found only in the Sovereignty of God. We are always reminded that “God is working all things together for good to those who love Him, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Is this hard? Absolutely. Is this to give glory to self? I could think of countless easier ways to accomplish this. The reason we chose to do this is simple. It is for the glory of God. It is for the obedience to the only One deserving of it. The hope is that the world would see Christ exalted and desire to know Him. Jesus truly is enough.
Taking Care of Your Parents – Sermon by Scott Brown
Trusting God Even When Life Hurts – by Jerry Bridges