By Dawn Jacobson-Venn
“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2-3
Caring for your aging parents can be challenging, and the demands overwhelming. But I encourage you to look beyond those challenges as a caregiver to the God who cares for you. You can experience the joy of honoring your parents in the midst of the tough situation you are facing. To find that joy, we must look towards our heavenly Father for counsel and insight.
I live across the country from my parents (who live in two separate states). They have had good health over the years and have lived independent lives. However, at each visit, I noticed that they were slowing down, getting frail, becoming more unstable and would need extra care and support in the near future. With that in mind, my husband and I bought a home that was conducive to having them come and live with us. We invited them to come, but neither of them wanted to move yet. Besides that, my 86 years old father, a physician, was still practicing medicine.
I recently went to visit my dad to check on him, cook good meals for him and help him around the house. When I arrived, I realized how poor his health had become. He had been in and out of the hospital several times in the previous months and was in the hospital yet again, when I arrived. The fact of the matter was that his 86-year-old heart was giving out on him. My weekend visit turned into a month-long stay. During that month, I helped him with everything and it was exhausting. When the doctor announced that my father did not have much time left, my three brothers also came to be with dad and do what they could to help him feel more comfortable and most of all make sure he knew how much we all loved him. We took him back home from the hospital and were with him round the clock. We spent time in prayer and reading Bible promises together until our dear father took his final breath.
In today’s society, the obligation of caring for the elderly is not one that many are able to accept. The stress and demands of daily life may hinder us from feeling as though we have the time or the resources to care for our parents. Whatever challenges you face in caring for your parents, I want to encourage you to get on your knees and seek the Lord and ask Him, “show me how to honor my parents during this time”. Don’t allow the cares of the world to overshadow the things that are most important—serving God through serving people, especially the people in our own families. The Bible says, “Honor your father and mother” –which is the first commandment with a promise –“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2-3). When we honor and care for our parents, we are serving and honoring God as well. The month I spent caring for my father was very difficult, but the time I had with him was a precious gift. And isn’t TIME the ultimate gift we can give to those we love? I will never regret the month I took off from work, the appointments and obligations I missed out on because caring for my father was such a blessing to me. And it was through that sacrifice that I found out what it truly means to honor your parents.
About the Author
Dawn Jacobson-Venn, MA is Administrative Assistant for the Department of Family Ministries at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist World Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA.