During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have greatly missed corporate worship and Bible study with my church family. The opportunity to come together for fellowship, worship, Bible study, and sharing is one that I’m afraid I took too much for granted until nobody could gather together because of the virus. Sunday after Sunday, Chris and I “attended” streaming services over the internet. We sang the hymns, prayed when the worship leader led in prayer and opened our Bibles when someone read Scripture, but it wasn’t the same as physically sitting next to others on the same pew.
This inability to participate in corporate worship or group Bible study is an everyday reality for many family caregivers whose aging family members cannot be left alone or leave home to attend services. If neither of you can go, then you both must stay at home. There is a void that grows a little every day we go without some level of connectedness to our church family. Newsletters, emails, and phone calls may have to suffice for now to protect you and those you care for from being exposed to the virus, but even before this risk emerged, you were probably struggling with the need for a spiritual recharge.
As Christians, we have a scriptural mandate to worship God with other believers. In Psalm 122 we find David extolling the virtues of coming into God’s House when he writes, “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’” Going to church is more than attending a meeting; it is supposed to be a family gathering where we find encouragement, support, and accountability as we worship, sing, pray, study God’s Word, and share together.
Your church family can be a precious resource for family caregivers, but you have to humble yourself and be vulnerable to share your needs. So many family caregivers pretend to be the Lone Ranger and try to handle everything by themselves. You shouldn’t hide your struggles as a caregiver; share your prayer requests, and ask for help. God already knows your struggles, and He wants you to come into His house with rejoicing.
Of course, to attend weekly services, your church needs to have returned to safely meeting in person. If they are not doing so at this time, you could reach out to the pastor, your Sunday School teacher or small group leader, share your needs and ask for help. If you can safely attend church, can someone take turns with you weekly to enable you to attend worship services, or could you hire a home care service to give you that opportunity? The investment you make here could be life-changing in terms of reconnecting with your source of encouragement, hope, and endurance. Don’t shortchange your spiritual wellspring during your season of caring for an aging family member. God is always there for you, and He desires to help you through His power and your fellowship with other believers. If you find the time and make a way, He will provide exactly the right resources to meet your needs.
Chris and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about finding ways to balance church with caregiving.