Respite: a brief period of rest and recovery between periods of exertion…; A short period of rest from having to deal with a difficult or unpleasant situation (Bing Dictionary)
I have spent the last few days in the Richmond Virginia Veterans Administration Medical Center. My annual physical examination had been postponed from May until June. Since caring for quadriplegics is extremely demanding, the VA provides for 30 days respite per year for caregivers. We haven’t usually taken advantage of this, however we see the great wisdom and need for Judy to have a break from the demands of my care.
So the basic goal was to provide a brief but intensive period of rest for Judy. However, some privileges and responsibilities at our church required my attendance. Here is how Judy spent her time and energy on Saturday afternoon (the midpoint of her respite), which were repeated in reverse on Sunday.
- Tidy house, prepare supper so Kip could have a taste of home cooking, gas up the van and fight resort traffic to Richmond VA (2 – 2.5 hours of driving)
- Pick up Kip, load van with essentials needed for Kip (CPAP, dirty laundry, computer/iPad, computer accessories, etc.)
- Drive home (again, navigating through tourist traffic – 2.5 hours)
- Unpack van, finish up dinner, set up computer, feed Kip, set up CPAP, etc.
- Prep for covered dish dinner at church, dispense evening medications, laundry
- Final nighttime adjustments: CPAP, medications bed drink of water, adjust bed…Okay, by now you get the point. Circumstances don’t work out as you planned. Life is hard and filled with disappointments and struggles. This description of last Saturday afternoon depicts exhaustion not respite. My reason for citing these details is twofold.
Firstly I appreciate and wish to recognize Judy’s love, dedication, and hard work for me and the ministry to which God has called me. Throughout my life. She has been a tremendous benefit and help. But now, especially, I am dependent on her assistance. I thank God for her. Her efforts make it possible for me to fulfill my responsibilities.
Secondly, I invite you to think about dealing with disappointment and hardships. This introduces a huge topic – much could be written and said. But I offer a thumbnail sketch and summarize my understanding of the Bible, my experience and observations using the words of an old hymn: Trust and Obey.
Trust: This is much easier to say than to practice but when circumstances are difficult, I am learning to trust in God’s providence. Depending on my circumstances I will usually try to think of an appropriate Scripture passage. An excellent default passage is Romans 8.28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Here, I am instructed and reminded that God is working everything for good – he has everything under control – things are not happening randomly but for his wise and good purpose! I may not understand it but I am convinced by God through the Scripture that he has a good reason and that he will provide what I need. I will trust in him.
Obey: Since I know God has a good purpose/reason for my circumstances, I am learning to focus on my responsibilities and Christian duties. God has given us many instructions regarding our conduct. The fact that I am facing difficulties does not excuse me from my Father’s household rules. Difficulties are not license for disobedience. I will focus on obeying my heavenly Father, living for his pleasure and not my own. My motivation to be obedient is not based upon fear or a sense of trying to earn his pleasure. No, I respond to his great love for me by providing his only Son to be my Lord and Savior. I love him because he first loved me. By his grace, I will trust and obey.
By the way, praise the Lord that my annual physical resulted in positive reports – I’m in great shape for the shape I’m in!