What Parents of Special Needs Kids Need to Know about Grief, Faith, and Hope

Spring has sprung, but part of me isn’t feeling like sunshine and flowers. Life feels disappointing as my husband and I are seeking, but have no answers, concerning our child’s chronic illness.  I cannot begin to tell you all the prayers that have gone up and yet our daughter still is experiencing disabling medical problems. Sometimes when things are going well I’ll allow myself to dream about her future, but for the moment it’s difficult.

I know it’s not wise to wallow in discouragement so I won’t.  However, before I attempt to move us emotionally and spiritually forward, I want to acknowledge the reality of grief for a moment. Yes, we need to count our blessings, but the pain we and our children face is real too.  I hope you and I feel free to grieve for a time before we get up again to face challenges (and maybe fight) on behalf of our child or family.  Sometimes people try to speaking healing into our situations without acknowledging our loss—and it’s not helpful.  God understands, however.  He is near to the brokenhearted (Psalms 34:18).  That said, he also has provided us with faith and hope for our victory—so to them I will return.

Pulling up your “faith and hope bootstraps” is not easy when you are grieving. As a young mom, I remember being baffled by the concept of “hope,” thinking it was just wishful thinking in the face of a brutal reality.  But, for whatever it’s worth, here’s what I learned when I studied and diligently sought God on these issues:

  • God watches over those who hope in him (Psalms 33:18). He sees you and your child.  Don’t doubt it.
  • The biblical definition of hope means that we expect to receive what we hope for.  Hope does not disappoint us (Romans 5:5).  It’s not the same as a wish.
  • Faith is the currency, substance and power to receive what we hope for (Hebrews 11:1).  It’s our job to trust--and God’s job to produce outcomes.
  • If we are lacking the faith to truly hope, walking through trials while seeking God can actually help. Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character and character, hope (Romans 5:2-5).
  • In the end, what we hope for is not the lasting victory, faith is the victory (1 John 5).

I cannot begin to understand how God works through these mysterious concepts, but I do know this: DISCOURAGEMENT FLEES WHEN WE HAVE FAITH THAT GOD IS GOOD AND THAT HE WILL REWARD OUR HOPE.  So, in response:

  • Today, I will trust God with my hopes and dreams for my child. I will not stuff them away where they cannot hurt me but will allow God to modify or fulfill those dreams at his will.
  • Today, as discouragement gnaws at my heart, I will fight for courage. I will choose hopeful thoughts and wait on the happy ending that my good God has planned—in whatever way and in whatever time He chooses.
  • Today, even through tears, I will look to His face for what I see there is power and grace.

Thank you, Lord, for faith and hope.

Dr. Karen Crum brings hope and practical support to parents through her blog and award-winning book, Persevering Parent: Finding Strength to Raise Your Child with Social, Emotional or Behavioral Challenges. Order Karen's book for a substantial discount throughout the month of April when you buy through her website-- www.PerseveringParent.com.