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Posted: February 21, 2008

Spousal Caregiving

Perseverance: When a Caregiver 'Hangs in There'

Bill Andrew

I’ve written previously about the virtues of humility and patience and their impact on the lives of family caregivers. In this column, I’ll look at the adjacent virtue of perseverance -- a critical value for caregivers.

What is perseverance? Perseverance has been defined as the steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, a belief -- despite the difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement that one might encounter. Perseverance commonly suggests activity that is maintained in spite of difficulties or a long-continued application; in other words, to endure. In today's idiom, we would say "hanging in there."

Perseverance builds on a foundation even biblical -- of humility and patience. For example:

(James 5:10-11) says, "Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Indeed, we call blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of the perseverance of Job . . ."

(Hebrews 12:1) says, ". . .let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us . . ."

Jesus frequently stressed perseverance in prayer -- "to pray without ceasing" (Thessalonians 5:17), "to let nothing hinder us from praying always" (Sirach 18:22), "to pray at all times" (Ephesians 6:18-19).

Our Lord also continually stresses perseverance despite persecution, suffering, and martyrdom (Matthew 24:9-13; John 16:1-2).

In all our trials and tribulations as family caregivers, we should endure our sufferings patiently (Sirach 2:1-6) for by our patience, we will win our souls (Luke 21:19).

As I wrote in my last column, prayer is the key; it provides me with the humility and patience to persevere as a family caregiver.

When we have a highly developed spirit of perseverance (endurance), we have the most important asset to assist us as caregivers. We are mature if we have perseverance; we are ready to face and overcome whatever comes our way as we provide care for our loved ones.

This spirit of perseverance is available to each of us if we commit to facing our trials and tribulations squarely. During our days of frustration and disappointment, we need to learn what God wants us to do. We must be willing to be faithful to God, whatever comes our way. In doing so, we will develop -- over time -- a spirit of perseverance and will also develop the ability to be a caregiving, wise, and loving friend to anyone that we find suffering.

Perseverance is the crown jewel of character traits; that is, virtues. If there is any quality that we should be building into ourselves and our family, it is perseverance. We should inspire others not to quit when the going gets rough. We need to help people to persevere in their marriages, in friendships, at work, in school, in caregiving, and in every state of life. We need to challenge each other onward and upward.

Spiritual endurance can be considered the pinnacle of perseverance. When we can regularly demonstrate a rugged perseverance in regard to our faith in God, we have reached the ultimate spiritual development. When we can say that there is nothing this life can throw at us that will cause us to defect from our commitment to God, then we begin to understand the priceless value of this virtue called perseverance.

This kind of endurance is available to everyone, but we must know how to acquire it and develop it. This is where trials and tribulations come in. This priceless virtue comes only the hard way -- by experiencing it -- like most things of value. God's promises are true, His presence is available, and His love is there for us. When we have learned these lessons over a long enough period of time, we become the possessor of this most extraordinary virtue called perseverance. When this happens, we start to see these trials and tribulations from a different perspective. We see them less as an interruption of a comfortable life and more as the stuff out of which character is formed and endurance developed.

When we look at the life of Job, we know that he didn't go through his struggles, trials, and tribulations without tears, pain, or heartache. The truth is, he undoubtedly experienced all of these in spades. Job asked the "why" question many times -- "why me, Lord?"

The thought of "bailing out" on God must have crossed his mind many times. But at the end of the day, Job said "My God is faithful and true." Job did not defect -- and neither should you nor I. He endured through a long season of misery. When all was said and done, Job discovered that he not only survived -- but that he was closer to God and deeper in faith and more resolute to trust God in everything.

And here’s the bottom line: To be a good family caregiver for your loved one, you must be humble, you must be patient, and you must persevere.

Please e-mail me at with your comments and/or reactions. I will include them in a future column with your permission. Provide your full name and address. In the column, I will only use your first name and the initial of your last name as well as your city and state. Thank you.


"By perseverance, the snail reached the ark."

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Bill Andrew identifies himself as a former “nutritionally-empowered Alzheimer’s caregiver” who attributes the slow-down in progression of Alzheimer’s disease in his wife, Carol – and the growth of his own personal emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual capability and strength to provide quality 24/7 care for her in their own home – to the targeted nutritional supplements they both took on a daily basis. Carol went to her Heavenly reward on June 9, 2008 – Bill continues on to advocate for family caregivers. Contact Bill with your caregiving questions and comments via email at

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