The familiar number displayed on my phone caused me to hesitate to answer. Maybe guilt, rather than honor or true concern, compelled me to pick up. I heard my father’s panicked voice, “I need help!” My mother had passed away three years earlier and now my father’s health was failing. He was alone, scared, and unsaved. Even under the best of circumstances, Dad was a challenge. Our relationship wasn’t great. Now he was reaching out, and I was nine thousand miles away. Talk about feeling helpless. The emotional turmoil of that time defies description.
Are you a global worker with aging parents, facing tough decisions surrounding their care and support? It is becoming one of the top reasons global workers leave the field. This may be especially true for women, who tend to fill the caregiver role. What do you do when there is no one else to stand in the gap? Whether you are called to return or remain on the field, the choice is heart wrenching.
Take comfort that God has foreseen your circumstances and He understands your struggle. Just as God speaks through the prophet Isaiah to assure his people of His sustaining power “until your old age,” you, too, can trust His provision for your family. Whether you stay or go, know He will “bear you up” and your aging parents.
My father passed away before I made it home. During preparations for his funeral, my sister told me of God’s unique provision for him in his last days. Two wonderful Christian ladies we had known since childhood, life-long friends of our mother, had stepped in to care for Dad in the midst of his physical suffering and intense fear of dying. And, where my own sharing had fallen on deaf ears, these special saints led my father to Christ the day before he passed peacefully into the arms of Jesus.
When your thoughts turn to concern for your aging parents, be encouraged as I was by the words from the beloved hymn, “How Firm a Foundation,” where John Rippon captures God’s promise of provision for his people until the very end:
“Even down to old age all My people shall prove, My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love,
And then, when grey hairs shall their temples adorn, Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.”
If you have faced a tough decision involving the care of your aging parents, how did God lead you in resolving the issue and giving you a path forward? What counsel do you have for other global workers who may face this dilemma?