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128 pages
Jun 2004
AMG Publishers/Living Ink

The Twenty-Third Psalm for Caregivers

by Carmen Leal

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Chapter One

The Shepherd Who Cares

IN AS CLEAR A VOICE AS POSSIBLE My husband David, because of a terminal neurological disease, was having increasing difficulty feeding himself; he could swallow only with a great deal of effort. As I fed him one day, with more food landing on his shirt than in his mouth, David and I went through the usual “change the shirt” game.

“David, lift up your arms,” I pleaded. “If you do, we can go get some ice cream.”

David’s garbled speech made his response to my urging impossible to comprehend. However, I did figure out that he had no intention of lifting his arms or cooperating as I changed the shirt.

I felt myself tense up, and I sighed in frustration. I didn’t need this. Try as I would, I simply couldn’t understand what he was saying, and we weren’t moving any nearer to our goal—a clean shirt.

“David, my job is to feed you, make sure you take your medications, and help the doctors and nurses. Your job is to help me to help you. You need to lift your arms, please.”

With an endearing smile so like that of the man I married before the ravages of his illness took over David said, “No. My job is to say ‘I love you,’ in as clear a voice as possible.”

Isn’t that how we are with our heavenly Caregiver?

If you’re anything like me, you say, “God, your job is to heal my loved one. Your job is to provide me with the money and support I need to be a caregiver. You need to make my job easier.”

Fortunately, God knows His job better than we do. He patiently says, “No. My job is to say ‘I love you,’ in as clear a voice as possible.”

C.S. Lewis wrote, “God whispers in our pleasures but shouts in our pain.” Whether God is whispering or shouting, He tells us to, “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10).When we are still, when our turbulent emotions become placid, then we can hear His voice as He tells us of His love. We can hear His voice when we get unexpected respite. A gentle smile from the one we are caring for is God’s way of whispering His love. God can be heard in the lack of outside demands on a particularly stressful day, or when the insurance company actually pays their share without a fight.

Oswald Chambers’s words speak even to God’s silence: “You say, ‘But He has not answered.’ He has. He is so near to you that His silence is the answer. His silence is big with terrific meaning that you cannot understand yet, but presently you will.”

In whispering, shouting, and yes, even in silence, our God, our Caregiver, is enunciating His love in as clear a voice as possible.