My friend’s mother died, whom she had been taking care of in her home for decades. I got to see just the fringes of what all that entailed for my friend: the curtailment of social activities and opportunities, the constant need to line up help, the interrupted sleep, the forfeiture of what is considered a “normal” family life.
Moreover, my friend has more than her share of health problems herself. A hale-and-hardy person might possibly be able to shoulder the continuous physical and mental challenge of caring for a mentally ill mother. But how does one do it while dealing with backaches and broken bones of their own?
Today at the local diner I asked my friend how she had been able to do it all. She was astounded herself but claimed it was a gift of grace. I then remembered a verse:
“But he gives more grace” (James 4:6).
I realized once again that grace is not to be conceived of as only a static or positional and undifferentiated state, but is a varied gift that God gives in needed spurts, as it were—not unlike the pump my little diabetic friend Benjamin uses to administer insulin to himself on an as-needed basis, depending on the moment’s requirement.
There is a grace for people like me who do not need the grace (right now) to care for a parent in the home. There is another grace for my friend who was asked by the Lord to bear this particular mission.
Also (to change the subject a bit), there is a grace for when we are young and starting off to live a godly life before the Lord. And then there is a grace if we have blown it badly and Satan’s temptation is to make us despair.
I believe that it is more pleasant to have obeyed in the first instance, and that it is much less pleasant and more challenging to turn around a barge that has long been plying in the wrong direction. Nevertheless, I am glad for the peculiar and new kind of grace that rises in old age for those who, having done badly, now want to do it right. It’s good to know “He gives more grace.”