“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41, NAS).”
“And those being in the flesh are not able to please God (Romans 8:8, NAS).”
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 (ESV)
“My soul weeps because of grief; strengthen me according to Your word (Psalm 119:28, NAS).”
The fleshly nature of every human ever to walk the Earth is the same: it wants what it wants and it is weak in every way. One person may appear better than another, but rest assured, all flesh is unholy, unrighteous and is weak even when it appears the most powerful and strong. Galatians spells out the evidence of the flesh:
- sexual immorality
- fits of anger
- things of like nature
There isn’t a moral enough person on the planet that has not, at some point, operated in at least one of the evidences of the natural man. Because of the rampant weaknesses of the flesh, why would anyone assume they have the power to be strong enough to overcome temptations, weaknesses, or tribulations? Strength is not a part of the flesh, contrary to popular belief. We’re taught to be strong, be tough, as though the flesh can possibly (in and of itself) muster enough power to endure the pitfalls of this condemned, Satan-run world.
Sure, it can definitely have the appearance of strength; after all, it also has the appearance of life even though Jesus crucified the nature of the flesh of all mankind. The Bible tells us we have all been crucified into Christ’s death (all are dead in sin), but not all are resurrected in the life of Christ. The flesh is so weak that, in fact, the first people created in God’s image lived in utopia and still could not control the desires of wicked, weak flesh. There, Adam and Eve stood with power to subdue the entire Earth, but that wasn’t enough. The fleshly nature, at the first sight of temptation, longed for more and purposed to take what it desired even though death was their fate.
We should never be surprised at the ultimate frailty of our flesh because, at it’s core, it can’t be anything else. So, yes, we can have the outward façade of strength; just don’t be astounded when it suddenly crumbles under the pressures of this life. Christ is our only hope, our only strength, our only possible solace in time of trouble. Throughout this book, I have inserted several passages from my first book, What Was God Thinking? Why Adam had to Die, because the topic at hand is in direct correlation to dying to the flesh.
Chapter 2, When All My Strength has Failed
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world (I John 4:1).”
One of many issues with having a chronically ill child is feeling bad about questioning their diagnosis and/or prognosis. I have questioned every single doctor at some point in time. Many people struggle with this because they feel as though, because the physician has the education, they can never be incorrect in their analysis. I say to you, “Always question everything!” No one is perfect and no doctor knows everything. I accept nothing at face value because the Word of God demands we test every spirit, bar none.
I am a firm believer in being proactive. Some of the confidently stated diagnoses in the world were 100% inaccurate. People across the globe have received death sentences and lived to tell the story of their miraculous recovery proving their doctor’s prognosis incorrect. God always has the final say. Do your research. Leave no table unturned. The person who takes the best care of a child is the one who loves them the most; more often than not, it’s their parents. We who are in Christ must place our faith in God, conduct spiritual warfare and do our homework. You are the one paying the doctor’s salary; hence, you have the right as well as the responsibility to ask pertinent questions.
Personally, I deem it irresponsible to blindly take a doctors word because that renders their word as gospel. If I had not questioned Sophia’s pediatrician, she’s be in a much worse situation today. I had to get her to the right people who would acknowledge what is seen as well as what I know as a mother. No one knows your child better than you because you live with and care for them day in and day out. No one else witnesses all you encounter daily. If a doctor attempts to intimidate you when you inquire, do not back down. Doctors who are worth their crust don’t mind questions and, in fact, welcome them.
Additionally, even if you recognize what the doctor is saying is accurate, speak the promises of God over them instead of the problem at hand. Just because the diagnosis may be right in the moment, God can turn it around. Speak life over your child and not death; speak wellness over them and not illness. For example, I can be in conversation with someone and respond to their questions, “Currently, Sophia has a condition of _____________.” But I will continue with confidently speaking, “But I know it isn’t forever. I know God has a perfect plan and purpose for her life and I fully expect it to manifest in the days to come. What Satan has devised for evil, God will turn for her good.” Now, I may not say those exact words, but you get my meaning. Always speak life, never death because words are potent, they are fiercely powerful. Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Test the spirit from which you are speaking. If it’s negative, full of doubt, depression, or anything of the like, it is not of Holy Spirit.
In fact, I purpose, though I falter occasionally, never to vocalize how arduous this is lest I find myself drifting into depression, sorrow and self-pity. I cannot stress enough that our words matter. The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you if you have surrendered your life to Christ. Allow your focus to be on God instead of the circumstances and your words will follow suit.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”
One of the issues with having a chronically ill child is dealing with discouragement, theirs and ours. As parents, it is our responsibility and privilege to continuously encourage our children no matter how exhausted we are. We are not allowed to speak negatively as that helps no one. Certainly, we all have bad days, but we must focus on who God is, how God is, His promises and on “whatsoever is good” as instructed in Philippians 4:8. For me personally, I definitely have discouraging days; those where Sophia has had a few really good days and then, bam, she can’t get out of bed because of some infection that hit her from nowhere. With confidence, I know that, if you are a parent or guardian of a chronically ill child, you get discouraged. It is our reasonable responsibility to God, ourselves and our child to locate in our lives whatsoever is good, true, honorable, etc. Believe me, it’s present, we must simply try with a bit more effort than others to find it. We must get our eyes off our circumstances and place them where they belong – on Christ and His Kingdom and what God has to say about the matter.
If your child is still breathing, it’s a good day. If they can get out of bed, it’s a good day. If they can actually attend school, spend some time with a friend or someone with whom they can share some laughter, it’s a good day. We must each find our place in Christ where we are so confident He is sovereign, kind, loving and attending to our needs according to His riches in glory that we do not allow ourselves to be swallowed by the spirit of depression, anxiety, or some form of disillusionment. As for me, I can honestly say, it takes a lot, a whole lot, to discourage me. This is only because I keep my focus on Christ, His Kingdom promises, as well as recalling all I’ve ever experienced with Him in times past. I remind myself of things He has spoken to me, directly or indirectly. I recite the Word in my inner man so that all the negativity of the current day does not overwhelm me. I deal with today today because tomorrow has enough troubles of its own. I choose this because it is healthy (spiritually and physically), I choose it because it is good, I choose it because it is right, and I choose it because I must be an example of faith to my kid as well as onlookers.
Over the years, I have had a few people play the blame, guilt, shame and condemnation game, to which I refuse to participate. It’s from those uber-spiritual folks who are certain they could do better than I and that her illness is all my fault; they love to stir discouragement. I have heard, “You must not be praying right”, “you must have hidden sin”, “you must be speaking the wrong things”, “you must be entertaining demons”, “you must be a hypocrite since you’re a minster and believe in supernatural healing yet your kid is still sick” and much more of the like. These are those who believe that, if healing doesn’t come when or how they believe it should, it must be the parents’ fault.
Those words, if I allowed, would discourage and crush me to my core. But, because I am grounded firmly in my identity in Christ knowing I’ve done everything spiritually of which I am biblically aware, those words wash over me like water off a duck’s back. Believe me, I have questioned myself every which way – all these things crossed my mind at some point.
Parents, if you know who you are in Christ, if you know who Christ is in you, if you walk in accordance to His Word, and have surrendered yourself and your situation to Him, know that God will take everything Satan means against you for evil and turn it, one day, for your good, the good of your child, and the good of the Kingdom of God. Do not allow discouragement to overtake you because it benefits no one. Encourage yourself in God’s Word and His promises. In this, you won’t have to force positivity when around your child; it’ll flow freely from a genuine heart of love, faith and hope.
Philippians 4:8: Finally, brethren (parents), whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
My name is Alexys V. Wolf. I am first and foremost a wife and mother of two beautiful teenage daughters, as well as a minister, author and artist. I founded The Fiery Sword Ministries in 2007 and have multiple published books dealing with a garden variety of spiritual issues. The purpose of this blog and group, Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children, is to aid fellow parents in their journey with sick children.
By way of introduction, my eldest daughter, Sophia, started getting sick at six months old with double ear infections, yet they were nothing spectacular; nothing that would send red flags of future chronic illness. She was otherwise a well child until the age of five when she developed chronic stomach aches and UTI’s. We dealt with those nearly a year. When the gastroenterologist performed at endoscopy, he said he found no acid reflux but she had severe unexplained constipation. Unfortunately, the acid reflux went undiagnosed many years because she would only experience it with antibiotics.
By the age of 8, around 3rd grade, the stomach aches worsened and her pediatrician said, “It’s psychosomatic.” Knowing my daughter, watching her day in and day out, I was positive the doctor was incorrect in her sloppy assessment. By 9, I began taking her to our G.P. who was much more responsive to Sophia’s needs. Her neck had been growing oddly several years yet, when I would inquire, multiple doctors blew it off as “that’s just how she’s growing. Nothing to worry about.” Lo and behold, by the age of 10, our G.P. said, “Don’t freak out, Alexys, but Sophia has a goiter.” I rejoiced!! I knew something was remiss and she was the first person to acknowledge it. As one would expect, the ultrasound revealed Hoshimoto’s thyroiditis.
That sent us on a crazy ride for which we are still sojourning. We went to several specialists locally, but we found better care out of town at MUSC (Medical University of South Carolina), a 2-3 hour drive depending on traffic. It so happens that they discovered additional autoimmune issues, hormonal issues, as well as stomach problems.
I have refrained from speaking publically because there are certain aspects one simply doesn’t want to share with the world. Of course, I do share some within the confines of my various books, but that isn’t a public forum like social media. Not everyone will read my books, but anyone anywhere can run across my blog. Notwithstanding, I knew it was time to speak so as to help those whom I am able with daily living with a sick child. It is definitely no picnic. Along with the physical sickness, a parent has to eventually deal with the mental, emotional and spiritual toll it takes on someone who should, by all accounts, be running, jumping and playing with their friends without a care in the world. They should be fretting over silly things such as completing homework, who likes who at school, discovering interest in the opposite sex, attending school and church and their respective functions; what clothes to wear to this or that social event.
But, to our chagrin, they concern themselves with getting in their daily meds and whether or not they’ll be able to feel well enough to get out of bed on any given day. As the parent, it’s so frustrating watching teen groups at church prepare to minister overseas or in another state and not one person in that group knows my kid’s name. The sick are most definitely the forgotten. As a parent, it is heartbreaking. Not only is your child sick, but you are blatantly aware of all they’re missing. The common joys of life elude them.
In the following months, I will be addressing many issues which waylay, not only the children, but the parents and how I deal with them on a spiritual, physical, mental and emotional level. My directive is not to have a support group, per se, but rather a group of people with common interests and goals so as to encourage and enlighten one another. Granted, my child is not dying of cancer or anything of the sort as she comes in and out of wellness; although, as of late, there’s more illness than wellness. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we can certainly rally together with the intention of being comforted as well as grow in faith, strength and encouragement.
As a minister, I am an avid believer of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ as well as the power of supernatural healing; I have both witnessed it and experienced it for myself. In fact, Sophia, like my previous 7 pregnancies, was dead in my womb until, one day, two men of God were sent our way. They prayed powerfully in way I was yet to learn. In that prayer, God later revealed that, in fact, Sophia was dead but He sent these men to speak life into Sophia’s otherwise dead little body. That being said, I also know there are times where we don’t see what we think we ought to given the power of Christ within us. It’s in those times when an explanation fails us that we need to come together seeking the Word and will of the Father who is faithful.
As for our household, we have covered every known area spiritually and physically. We have laid on hands with elders, anointed with oil, bound away evil spirits, released Holy Spirit upon her and our home, broken generational curses and applied the blood of Jesus, repented, praised and so on. We’ve changed our diet, gone to specialists and taken the proper steps. In all this, we wait upon the Lord, trust in His sovereignty, and take things one day at a time. We place our trust in the Living Hope of Jesus.
Psalm 27:11-14: Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a level path because of my foes. Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence. I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.