This week in the Husband With Illness online support group that I am a part of, the subject of loneliness has come up. Many women with chronically ill husbands find themselves in a very lonely place. Their friends with well husbands don’t always get it, and well-meaning fellow Christians sometimes say something in an effort to be helpful that ends up causing more pain. Hollow clichés just don’t cut it when your pain is deep and it seems that there will never be an end to it.
As the women of the group have gone back and forth sharing their feelings of loneliness one person said that after 19 years of living hell, she was tired of giving up her life. John 15:13 immediately came to my mind: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
How many of us are called to lay down our lives for someone else? Some of these women have to dole out medications, shuttle their husbands to doctor appointments, counseling, and water therapy. Some of them have to change feeding tubes or visit nursing homes only to stare into vacant eyes that no longer remember who they are. Some can never leave their spouse’s side and thus are imprisoned in their own homes because no one comes to help. These women are strong and courageous and they sacrificially lay down their lives every day for the men that they love.
It’s so easy to become self-centered and huff and puff when we are asked to put our agenda on hold for just a couple of minutes, but these women have put their lives on hold. They have been called to let go of their dreams and live a sacrificial existence each day. Some have no outside help, and it has been months since they’ve even shared a cup of coffee with a friend.
If you know someone in this situation, they need your prayers, but they also need your friendship. Volunteer to sit with their ill spouse so that they can go have a cup of coffee with a friend, or attend a Bible study. They may refuse your offer, but they will most likely be encouraged that you asked. Call them to visit and ask how you can pray for them. Offer to bring a meal over or watch their children for an afternoon so that they can get some much-needed rest. Send a card that lets them know you are thinking of them. If the ill spouse is a man, then the wife may need help with car repairs, yard work, or have fix-it things around the house that need done. If you can do those things, then offer to help. They may have financial needs as some of these families live on one income with little or no medical insurance. They may need resources such as devotional books, etc. that you can provide for them. Pray and ask God what you can do for those around you who are hurting. Can you lay down your life for a friend?