Church and Home
The Caregiver's 23rd Psalm
By Danny Baer
My Lord is my Caregiver, I shall not want.
He makes me sit in a place where I feel comfortable.
He provides the food that I need and sometimes, I actually like.
He keeps me refreshed and encouraged.
He makes me do what is best for me although I may not understand why.
Death is closing in upon me and it is easy for me to be afraid, but you are nearby.
Your guiding hand—though at times firm, and familiar voice—though sometimes stern, help calm my fears.
You are taking care of me as best you can even though I have enemies—the disease that has invaded my body—the condition that is robbing me of my memory—the doctors and nurses whom I do not know—my new environment that is not my home! (Oh, how I want to go home!)
You make sure that I am cared for—that I am bathed—that I am clothed—that I have a good bed—that my medicines are taken.
You are caring for me better than I could have imagined. (Some of the things you are doing, a child should never have to do for or to a parent, but you are doing them!)
I may not be aware of or appreciate your loving service, but know this. It is clear that you are determined that this care will continue until I say my last word, close my eyes one more time and take my final breath.
I rest in your care. ©2016
In the beloved 23rd Psalm, David used his role as a shepherd to describe a personal relationship with God. As the sheep are completely dependent upon the shepherd for food, water, protection, care, and guidance, David realized he was totally reliant upon his Lord.
Those who heard the 23rd Psalm in David’s day immediately understood even the subtlest nuances it communicated. Today, hardly anyone knows a sheep owner, much less an actual shepherd. We understand the psalm, not from experience, but vicariously through sermons, Sunday School lessons, and books like Tim Keller’s A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm. It might be helpful if we considered this psalm in terms of a situation where we are totally responsible for the wellbeing of another. The role of a caregiver fits that scenario quite well, and most adults are either involved in caregiving or know someone who is.
Our society is aging. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that senior citizens (adults over 65) will number 89 million by 2050 (www.cdc.gov/aging). According to a report by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, “29% of the U.S. population provides care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend” (www.caregiveraction.org). More than 65 million people in the U.S. average more than 20 hours each week and 20% of their personal income in caring for others (AARP Research).
Caring for the elderly is becoming commonplace. Some still live in their homes but require special attention; some live in the home of the caregiver; others reside in nursing homes or extended care facilities. Even though the situations vary, the emotions, struggles, questions, and needs are very similar.
“The Caregiver’s 23rd Psalm” is a simple attempt to compare our relationship with God to a relationship that is reality for millions. It is not an attempt to replace Scripture but an effort to provide a new perspective on this timeless passage.
About the Writer: Dr. Danny Baer has been an ordained Free Will Baptist pastor for more than 43 years. He and his wife Debbie serve at Southeastern FWB College. Danny serves as the moderator of the Randall Association in North Carolina, and is a Trustee on the Free Will Baptist Board of Retirement. The Baers have four children and six grandchildren.