Some people can’t say enough good things about support groups; others find them depressing, listening to other peoples’ problems.
So I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to a support group for caregivers of people with mental illnesses. But at this point, I am ready for whatever help I can get.
One part of the meeting was a devotional led by a man named Al. He shared how for years he was only able to go to work and deal with his daughter, who has severe epilepsy. He had to drop everything else he was involved with; there was simply no time.
He struggled with wondering why God didn’t just heal his daughter or provide a quick solution. So he read the Bible over and over. And one day he came across the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego thrown in the furnace.
God didn’t pull them out of the furnace; instead, He walked with them in the furnace.
Al shared how that changed his whole attitude toward his situation. God can certainly cure someone of a mental illness, immediately, if He so chooses. That would be pulling us out of the furnace.
But more often, He chooses to walk around in the furnace with us.
By having us endure the trials and difficulties of a loved one with a mental illness, He builds character, perseverance, and hope in us. Our faith grows stronger; we are made more like Christ.
This was a message I needed to hear.
Some days I feel as though the situation with my niece is manageable, we’ll get through this, everything will work out fine.
On other days my husband and I look at each other in desperation, feeling like we are completely out of our depth.
And on other days we mourn the loss of the life we used to have. Just the other day my husband asked me why he had to deal with this problem, why did we have to get involved. “I’m in my sixties,” he said. “Why am I getting this new challenge?”
I don’t have an answer for him. Sometimes I feel exactly the same way.
But both of us know that God does have a purpose in all this. We’ve already seen some great things happen in our family and are encouraged.
So even though our circumstances have changed, we know that Jesus and His promises are still the same. He who has begun a good work in us will not stop until it is complete, He will not leave us or abandon us but will keep on walking with us, no matter how hot the furnace gets.