There are very few things that are worse than seeing your child, whatever their age, suffering. Four of my daughters have chronic illnesses in varying degrees from being able to live a fairly normal life right through to being totally disabled and in constant pain. As a parent you would rather swap places and be the one suffering instead but that’s not possible.
For the last twenty years I’ve had to live with that reality and that, despite throwing thousands of pounds into private tests and hospitals, I can’t make them well. Living with a chronic illness is horrible and so is watching your child suffer.
For one of our daughters we adapted a special room in our home and cared for her 24/7. Reluctantly, when we needed a break/vacation, we would put her in a nursing home but, all the time I was away, I would be thinking about her having to be in a home full of elderly people instead of enjoying the active life of a ‘normal’ child/teen.
There is no easy solution as we are wired to love our kids more than ourselves, so what do we do? I have learned that the only way I can cope with having four now-adult girls poorly is literally to hand them over to God in the morning of each day and trust them to Him for that day. It is not easy. I keep wanting to ‘fix’ them. Accepting you can’t and that’s not your role is hard.
God doesn’t say ‘Oops! I didn’t expect that to happen’. So why has He allowed my girls to be so sick? Today’s reading from Our Daily Bread sheds some light on that – I quote:
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. Exodus 13:17
Life’s path is often difficult. So if we expect that God will always give us an easy road, we may be tempted to turn our back on Him when the terrain gets tough.
If you’ve ever considered doing that, think about the people of Israel. When they were given freedom from the Egyptians after hundreds of years of bondage, they took off for the Promised Land. But God didn’t send them straight home. He “did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter” (Ex. 13:17). Instead He sent them on the hard road through the desert. In the short run, this helped them avoid wars (v. 17), but in the long run, there was something bigger at work.
God used that time in the desert to instruct and mature the people He had called to follow Him. The easy road would have led them to disaster. The long road prepared the nation of Israel for their successful entry into the Promised Land.
Our God is faithful, and we can trust Him to lead us and care for us no matter what we face. We may not understand the reason for the path we are on, but we can trust Him to help us grow in faith and maturity along the way.
Lord, we cannot see the path ahead, so we must trust that the way is right and that it is the best road for us to take. Please encourage us, and teach us as we let You direct our path.
God’s timing is always right—wait patiently for Him.
My daughters have grown strong in different ways – they are spiritually mature in ways that only suffering can bring. I am thankful for that – although I would still love to see them healed.
As a mother and carer, it’s been important to have friends who are supportive – not only of my children, but also for the unique challenges that I, as a parent and carer face. You may know of someone who is caring for a disabled or sick child and maybe you wonder how you can help them. Following are some things I have learned over the years through good and bad experiences. I hope they will give you insight into how you can help your friends and their sick/disabled children.
THINGS TO DO:
- Send them a quick email, message, text just to say “I’m thinking of you today, I’m praying for strength for you and for healing IF THAT IS GOD’s WILL for your daughter/son.”
- If they are, like I was at one time, virtually housebound due to my caring duties, then go and visit them. Don’t feel you have to take something – it is your company they want. However, if you can take something you can eat together (snack or meal), so they don’t feel they have to ‘entertain’ you, that would be a really nice gesture.
- If they can go out, then invite them out for coffee when it is convenient for them.
- If they are Believers, try to set up a time for quiet Bible Study time – a time for encouragement and not admonition.
- If they can’t get out much, then offer to be care giver so they can get to church, doctor, or have an outing. As much as a parent loves and cares for a child – a break can make a big difference in being re-energised to care for their child.
- Most of all just show that you care for THEM.
- If they want to – then just let them ‘talk it all out’ and share their feelings and KNOW FOR SURE that you will not breathe a word of what they have shared to anyone at all.
THINGS NOT TO DO:
- ‘Preach’ at them.
- Tell them that it must be their fault that their child is sick! (We had well-meaning Christians say it must be sin in our lives, or that of our daughters, that was making them sick)
- Tell them that God wants them to be well and it is a lack of faith on their part. If they had enough faith their kid would be well. That is NOT what the Bible teaches.
- Abandon or ‘forget’ them. They need your support, comfort and encouragement.
- Don’t make all your conversation about their sick kid. Talk about other interests they have as well.
- Don’t gossip about them.
- Don’t judge them – you don’t know their whole story.
- Don’t tell them that if they would only do something extra (ie, follow a special diet, use certain products, etc.) that their kid would be well. That can come over as judgemental and you don’t know their history – they may well have tried that and it is rubbing it in that it didn’t work. If you really do have something that you believe would work, it would be better to leave them with something in writing that they can look at when you are not there. If they want to talk about it they can call you.
For those of you who are parents caring for sick and disabled children, I have found these verses an encouragement and hope that they will be to you as well…
Psalm 119:71 – it was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.
Psalm 120:1 – I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.
Proverbs 18:10 – The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe.
Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 16:33 – I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world YOU WILL HAVE TROUBLE. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
1 Peter 5:7 – Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
If you are a parent of a sick or disabled child, what are some things that have been specifically helpful or unhelpful to you? Can you add anything to this list?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]