Most of us on this special needs journey put on a good face in public, but often behind closed doors we are weary, tired, sometimes frustrated, along with other challenging word choices. We believe we would also be the first to admit that for all these challenges, we can be most thankful and grateful for the stress, because of all we have learned in the midst of it.
We realize that if everything went smoothly, if everything was simple and easy, we wouldn’t have any need for or room for God in our lives. We’d go with the flow, enjoy the smooth ride on the river of life, and seldom need to paddle because the ride would be so effortless.
Psalm 73: 26 says, “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” This Psalm is a verse to cling to, to help us develop faith in God, and help us see that God is giving us grace when we need it. When others don’t ride through waters as turbulent as many of us have endured, it will be so much more difficult to endure hardships and challenges later in life, when spiritual and physical muscles haven’t been developed.
We’ve seen it. As some people in our age range—parents of adult children—now need to care for elderly parents, they may not have the needed endurance or desire to help because it’s “hard.” Sure, it’s hard and it’s stressful, but caring for a child for their lifetime gives us the muscles we need to do that care for a lifetime as well, and so many other things of need and importance that some people can’t handle because they’ve never had to.
Although we wouldn’t have been able to say this in the early years, we can say now how grateful we are that we’ve had to rely daily on God for the challenges of our son’s care for the 38 years of his life. God has given us answers to prayer about our challenges, direction we needed in the moment, and a faith in Him that is strong, because we’ve watched Him work and give us what we needed when we needed it. We’ve seen Him provide in the midst of stress and challenge, and we know that even when we are gone, He will provide for our son when there are needs and challenges in his life.
We are grateful to have been in the front row of the boat watching God work and take us through turbulent rapids to a place of quiet. We give thanks for how dependable He is. While the ride has sometimes been wearying, it has also been one of dependence and surrender. Learning those lessons is worth it all—yes, even the stress.
Dr. Joe and Cindi Ferrini are authors, speakers, and bloggers for several blogging sites on family and special needs. They speak nationally for FamilyLife Weekend To Remember Marriage Get-a-Ways, authored Unexpected Journey – When Special Needs Change our Course, and have been interviewed on Focus on the Family, FamilyLife, and various other radio and television venues. Connect with them at www.cindiferrini.com and social media at: www.facebook.com/cindi.ferrini, www.facebook.com/UnexpectedJourney/, www.facebook.com/MyMarriageMatters/