By Susie Frederick

Every one of us, at some time in our lives, will experience one or both of these roles: care-giver and care-receiver.

As children, we were all care-receivers. We depended on someone to take care of all our needs. And if we gave any thought to our needs being met, we probably did not worry about it. We trusted our care-givers.

As adults, most of us have experienced, or will experience, being care-givers to our children. Many of us will also have the experience of being care-givers to our aged parents, having made a complete role-reversal from the time of our childhood. Then, to complete the cycle, we may now — or at some time in the future — find our children caring for us, putting us in the category of care-receivers once again.

Through all these changes in our lives, God our heavenly Father is our care-giver. He wants us to put complete trust in His ability to care for us, just as a child trusts his parents. As our Father, God knows the emotions we feel as care-givers. He knows, and He cares, about our burdens, and He wants to help us bear them.

Jesus came to earth as a human. We see many times when He experienced human emotions, such as joy, sorrow, compassion, anger, frustration, anguish, satisfaction, and triumph. Many of these emotions can be seen in His life in Luke 19. As we see the emotions of Jesus, let us be comforted in knowing that He understands.

Here are some things we should expect to experience as care-givers, whether we are caring for children or adults:

The care-giver and the care-receiver will not always agree.

The care-receiver will not always understand.

Sacrifices made by the care-giver will not always be appreciated.

The care-giver can expect to make some mistakes due to lack of knowledge or lack of wisdom.

The care-giver will feel a wide range of emotions.

The care-giver can find strength and wisdom in talking with others who have experienced similar situations.

The care-giver can find comfort in knowing that God sees and cares, and has experienced the same emotions over and over again.

The care-giver can receive wonderful spiritual benefits because of the love and sacrifice called for in this role. It can build our character, making us better people.

There are two things we can do now, that will help us in whatever circumstance we find ourselves:

Do not wait until your burden becomes too heavy for you to bear alone.

Spread out your roots — intertwine them with other plants in God’s garden. Not only will you stand stronger, drawing strength from others, but you will lend your support to them as well. Share your difficulties with others who care and have had similar problems, and can help you see how to behave in the light of God’s will. Share your past experiences and triumphs with those facing similar circumstances. Open your hearts and lives to others. The better we know one another, the better we will be able to fulfill the command to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2).

But remember, most importantly, when care-giving becomes difficult, that Jesus promised the faithful, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20). And God who has felt the same emotions, and cares for us, has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). Remember that you are never alone, and as the apostle Peter instructs in 1 Peter 5:7, cast all your cares on God “for He cares for you.” He says all our cares — not just the ones that seem impossible to bear alone. In turning over to God our everyday concerns and asking His daily help and guidance, we gain strength and faith for whatever lies ahead.