Friday, May 18, 2012

Sometimes, You Just Have To Go Through It

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart
    and free me from my anguish. 
Psalm 25:16-17, NIV

I have the great privilege of leading an organization that ministers to parents of children with special needs.  This ministry was born at a time when my husband and I needed to be ministered to.  We were weak, discouraged and in need of a faith perspective regarding our son's special needs.  Instead of being served ourselves, God commanded us to lead.  As ignorant as we felt, we moved forward in obedience.  Ten years later, we have the honor of coming alongside thousands of parents who struggle just like we often still do.  

Much of the work we do is centered around supporting parents and offering them "a cup of cold water" when their circumstances are especially tough.  This may include having gift baskets sent to them with pampering goodies for mothers or fathers, small comforts for their children, books and written material to encourage, and gift cards for meals, gas or music for the kids.  One mom recently described a package she got from us during her daughter's ICU stay as being "like a warm hug."  I pray that in addition to blessing parents, this also brings a smile to God's face as we love on "the least of these".

But a recent hospital stay by another family I am close to reminded me of a difficult fact of our circumstances that occurs in spite of the ministry work the Lord has us doing.  There are many heartbreaking parts of this challenging walk as the parent of a child with special needs that we just have to walk through ourselves.  While there are tender acts of comfort we can offer another person going through a trial, there is little, if anything, we can do for someone watching their child flit frightfully near to death while hospitalized.  Sometimes, a person just has to go through it.  The anguish of a parent wishing they were the one suffering rather than their precious child can't be circumvented.  No money in the world, no extra help with our other children, no personal possessions or fame can eliminate that suffering that must be traveled through. No one can be in your place at your child's bedside, when the valleys are darkest.  

So, the question arises, How do you survive when there are unavoidable pieces of the journey that you must just walk through?  Here are a couple of thoughts:
  • Remember, when no other person on earth can walk through the roughest parts of your life for you, Jesus can walk along with you in an intimate and tender way that it His alone.
  • Cling to God's words of encouragement and His advice in your times of greatest heartache.  Remember, to God, "there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NIV)  While your circumstances may be foreign to you, He knows exactly what to do because He's seen it happen before.
  • In the words of my "spiritual father", Pastor Don, "Sometimes God delivers you from trials, and sometimes He delivers you through trials...  Everything you go through is Father-filtered.  It touches Him before it touches you."
  • There is no way you can necessarily handle crises perfectly.  But you don't need to, because He does.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, resting and trusting in His love.
While these words may seem small comfort at the time, know that you will survive the storms just like countless others have.  But how you emerge from it, bitter or better, will be determined by you alone.
Pray:  Lord, carry me through when I am alone and experiencing life's deepest heartaches.  No matter what the outcome, let me emerge from it still holding onto Your hand.

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