The Hidden Blessings in the Journey of Eldercare

For seven remarkable years, I had the privilege and responsibility of caring for my aging parents. One battled dementia, the other kidney failure. One held faith close to their heart while the other navigated life without belief in a higher power. Regardless, I held my role as their caregiver sacred, despite the overwhelming hardships faced each day. Given a chance, I wouldn’t change a thing about this journey.

Maybe you’re undertaking a similar journey, caring for a devout parent who has always reciprocated love and respect, making this strenuous journey more joyous than challenging. Or perhaps, like me, you’re caring for a parent whose life has been influenced by disbelief, making their journey of care complex due to a history of strained relationships or detrimental decisions.

Eldercare is not just about providing for our parents. It’s a grace-filled opportunity for us to become vessels of care, dignity, and compassion. Our acts of service reflect our faith and potentially open doors for non-believing parents to experience divine love. Furthermore, this journey is as much a blessing for us as it is for them.

Understanding Eldercare in the Light of Faith The shadow of hurtful decisions my father made during my childhood still lingers, affecting my siblings and me. You might be carrying a similar burden. It’s essential to acknowledge these feelings, but it’s equally important to understand that our feelings toward our parents shouldn’t dictate how we honor them. We care for our parents not because they deserve it, but because it’s a divine commandment: “Honor your father and your mother” (Ex. 20:12).

Caring for parents who haven’t lived a life of faith or those with whom we have strained relationships can be particularly challenging. However, the call to care doesn’t exclude these situations. Our responsibility to provide care springs from our faith, not from our parents’ actions or attitudes.

Despite my father’s unbelief, his thoughts and actions aligned with his worldview. As a believer, with a heart transformed by Christ, I found my commitment to care for him resonated with my renewed spirit, despite his unchanged nature.

The Blessings That Accompany Eldercare During my caregiving journey, I frequently prayed for my father’s salvation. I shared the Gospel, answered his queries, and maintained my faith. Although he did not embrace faith, my time and efforts were far from wasted.

Even if caregiving for an unbelieving parent doesn’t result in their salvation, the journey still offers profound blessings. Let’s explore three significant blessings that accompany this journey.

  1. Honoring God Through Service Our primary purpose is to glorify God. One way we do this is by honoring our parents, reflecting God’s love through our actions. Caregiving, with its trials and tribulations, ultimately points to the glory of God. As we honor our earthly parents, we mirror our honor for our Heavenly Father.
  2. Cultivating Divine Love and Caregiving can be physically exhausting and spiritually stretching. It calls us to unconditionally love and care for an individual whose capacity to reciprocate might be diminished. This love requires patience, kindness, humility, and a steadfast refusal to keep a record of wrongs. It’s a love that leans heavily on the Lord’s promise and perseveres, echoing the love we’ve received from God. As we extend this love to our parents, we gain a deeper understanding of divine love.
  3. Maturing in Faith Eldercare is a profound spiritual exercise that tests our faith and exposes our spiritual standing. It challenges us, adding weight to our spiritual growth. As we endure by God’s grace, our spiritual strength increases, leading to new levels of maturity. In this process, we learn to rejoice in our trials, becoming more robust in faith and more equipped to navigate life’s challenges with joy (James 1:2–4).

Caring for my parents for seven years taught me to lean on the Holy Spirit every single day. In embracing my neediness, I truly experienced the beauty of the words, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

As we embark on this journey of eldercare, irrespective of our parents’ faith or lack thereof, we open ourselves up to immense spiritual growth. By doing so, we are blessed, and God is glorified.