"I don't get it. Why is it so hard to do good work?"
"I don't know, honey," my husband, Mike, said. The creases in the corners of his beautiful brown eyes deepened, indicating he was trying to think of something to say that might help me with my struggle to understand why offering loving care to his father was always met with such resistance. He didn't come up with an answer that night, and neither did I.
For weeks, I prayed and asked God that same question. Why does it have to be so hard?
I got my answer one Sunday morning, at church. When the priest began to speak after reading the gospel, I felt that he was talking directly to me.
"I've been hearing the same question over and over lately. ‘Why is life so hard? Why is it so difficult to do good works?'" A chill ran through me. God had heard my cry.
"I'm here to tell you," the priest lectured, "no one ever told you it was supposed to be easy. In fact, there are many examples in the Bible of people being tested to their very limits. It's in adversity that you grow in spirit. It's when you step up and do the hard stuff God asks of you that you earn your place in heaven. So quit whining and do what you know has to be done, and remember you are not alone. He is there for you when you need Him."
After that, when things got very hard, I tried to make light of it by telling Mike, "I earned my place in heaven today." He believed it, even when I didn't.
At first, I couldn't take the words of the priest to heart. I wanted a better answer. But, as things went on and the more I repeated the words, "I earned my place in heaven today," the more at peace I felt. I was not alone. God was with me, and by doing the hard work I was earning the grace to make it possible.
Not easy. But easier. What I thought in moments of weakness and exhaustion to be impossible became possible. Being a caregiver is not a job that we can do alone. We need help from our community, our family and our friends, and in the moments when all of them are too busy or too far away there is one who is always there.
"Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." Joshua 1:9