“I will never leave you nor forsake you! My Presence watches over you continually.”
– Jesus Calling, August 1
September 24, 2002, should have been a day of celebration. It was my wife Laura and I’s fourteenth wedding anniversary, and life was good.
Laura’s to-do list that day included a doctor’s visit. She called me that afternoon with the news—the doctor had found a lump, and he could tell by the shape and texture that it was likely malignant.
Our lives changed that day. While I had loved my roles as husband, father, lover, spiritual leader, provider, and friend, I now had to add “caregiver” to that list.
A new role and a new dedication
When Laura got the biopsy results, the first thing we did was to pray together. Praying together was a daily thing for us, and we certainly needed the Lord’s strength and guidance now. I assured her that I would never leave her, physically or emotionally or spiritually, and that I would be as gentle, creative, and tireless as I could be in supporting her. I did my best to live up to this pledge.
One of the beautiful things about Laura was that everyone loved her—everyone! She was full of the Holy Spirit and of grace, no matter the difficulty of her circumstances. And she grew in grace along the way.
I remember one time in the waiting room when Laura was more upbeat and animated than I had seen her in months. She sat alongside a young woman, another patient, who was terrified. Laura was amazingly compassionate, comforting, and encouraging. The woman and her husband were moved, as was I. That day, I realized that I was less of a caregiver than a recipient of Laura’s outpouring of the Holy Spirit: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV). Her spirit was infectious, and her strength was otherworldly, and I gained strength to support her simply from being around her.
A faithful fight
After several years of apparent remission, the cancer returned in October 2008, and Laura had to resume multiple chemo regimens. Then, after an arduous two years, we learned the cancer had advanced to the point that it was essentially untreatable. Laura made the decision, with my agreement, that it was time to go into hospice care. The last week of Laura’s life was in February 2012, when she passed into eternity at home surrounded by dear friends and family. I knelt next to her bed, just as we both had knelt next to her dear mom’s bed a few years earlier.
My role as a caregiver was one of the hardest I have ever had to take on. But throughout that time, I knew that the Lord was always nearby, just as he assured Moses in Deuteronomy 31: “The Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (v. 6).
If you find yourself in a caregiving role today, I hope you remember the Lord is near to you as well, and He will never leave you to face your perils alone.
About the author
Gordon Geist was married for more than 23 years to the late Laura Geist, co-author with Susan Sorensen of Praying through Cancer: A 90-Day Devotional. Gordon and Laura raised two children, Geoffrey and Gretchen, now adults. Gordon has attended Highland Park Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, for 41 years and is active in ministries including serving on the boards of two Christian organizations, tutoring elementary students, teaching English as a Second Language and Citizenship to Muslim Syrian refugees, and serving in various capacities in his church.