Special-Needs Parents: What Is Your Faith in Today?

We need faith. Faith that His purpose and will for our lives and the lives of our children will be fulfilled. Faith that when doctors, therapist, teachers, and even friends and family members fail us, He never will.

In Mark 5, we meet a woman who had tried to find relief from many doctors, “And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spend all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse” (vv. 25-26).

We can so relate! Like so many of us who have tried doctors, therapies, supplements, diets, and tests, this woman was weary. No one could help her. And her issue wasn’t just a physical one. Because she was constantly bleeding, she was considered unclean. According to Levitical law, she would have to stay away from others, including her family.

But she had heard reports of Jesus. She knew His reputation as a healer. She was desperate enough to risk touching others and being shamed to get close enough, “For she said, ‘If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.’ And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease” (vv. 28-29). Relief at last! No more blood. No more loneliness. No more weariness.

Could she sneak away through the crowd as unnoticed as she came? “But Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my garments?’” (v. 30). The disciples looked around, confused. They were sure many people had touched Jesus as they all pressed in on Him. But the woman came forward, fell at His feet, and told Him the whole truth.

We assume when Mark writes “the whole truth” that this woman told Christ about the doctors, about the abuse, about losing all her money, about losing her connections to her family and community. We can imagine her saying, “I went here and there. I saw this doctor and that one. And finally I was without options. So I risked what little I had left to touch you.”

And Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease” (v. 34). Do you notice what healed her? Jesus said it was her faith! Her faith encouraged her to not give up. Her faith pushed her through that crowd. Her faith gave her the strength to reach out and touch Jesus’ robe. And her faith also made her brave enough to come forward when He looked for her in the crowd. Her faith in Him brought relief.

It’s interesting to note what Jesus commended in this woman. It wasn’t her steadfastness. It wasn’t her determination. It wasn’t her willingness to elbow herself through the crowd. It was her faith.

When we have meetings about James, I bring a binder full of information. Copies of therapy evaluations, results of blood tests, a list of medicines and supplements, his IEP, and more. It is obvious to others that we are serious about helping him thrive. That we want him to reach his potential. That we take our care for him seriously. Like this woman, we have been to many doctors and therapists and have spent lots of money. Some of these doctors have helped and others haven’t. But we continue to have faith.

What is our faith in? The medical community? The most recent study? The newest therapy trend? To a degree, yes. Or we wouldn’t keep going there for answers.

But Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We hope for James to feel better. We can’t see it, but we hope for it. And ultimately, our hope is in Christ.

Even if we don't se healing and relief this side of heaven, we continue to have hope in Christ. As John Piper said, “The deepest need that you and I have in weakness and adversity is not quick relief, but the well-grounded confidence that what is happening to us in part of the greatest purpose of God in the universe—the glorification of the grace and power of his Son—the grace and power that bore him to the cross and kept him there until the work of love was done.”

Sandra Peoples (M. Div) is a special-needs mom and sibling. She and her family live outside of Houston where she serves her church as co-director of the special-needs ministry. She’s the author of Unexpected Blessings: The Joys and Possibilities of Life in a Special-Needs Family