Faith

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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“Why me, Lord?” or rather “Why my child?” The question of “why” has to be the most commonly asked question of anyone throughout the ages. “Surely God who is loving has forgotten us. Doesn’t He love us? Is He punishing us? Is He lacking in power, goodness or greatness? Surely a good God would not allow this. If He were great, we wouldn’t suffer so.” To be clear, God is equally loving, good and great. He is all powerful and able to heal in any capacity needed; in fact, His healing is fully intact and is complete in the spirit-realm. The problem lies not in who God is, but in how we perceive Him and our circumstances.

We read in the first few lines of the 73rd Psalm of Asaph, “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” He continues citing how the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. Here we witness the candor of a man who was in love with God. He begins with stating the truth about God, that He loves His people, then goes into the confession of his envy of the wicked who prosper. Envy, as shown in numerous verses of God’s Word, is sin. Not only is it sin, but it is mercilessly destructive.

I deeply appreciate Asaph’s confession of his envy of those who flourish yet are wicked. When one has set their cap to serving the Lord yet suffers greatly, it is all too easy to become prideful assuming God should be more mindful of the righteous; this is pride. In our prideful spirit, we believe God has wronged us, forgotten us or altogether forsaken us. This simply is not true. There are a multitude of Scriptures preparing God’s people in how to stand in the evil day, how we have overcome the world yet beset by a myriad of sufferings.

We’re back to the problem: is it God or is it man’s prideful thinking? Without question, it is the latter. When we lay down our fleshly mindset (conscious or unconscious) of “I deserve better because I love the Lord,” already we can deduce we do not love God as much as we think. In fact, we think too highly of ourselves and love ourselves in an unhealthy fashion. It isn’t until we get to know our Sovereign King that we can take hold of a major paradigm shift. The bottom line is, we are all unworthy of God’s grace, yet He extends it regardless. All of humankind deserves hell, yet, in His supreme compassion, He allows us to partake in His worth, His Kingdom, His grace and kindness.

When our children suffer, it is far worse than suffering in our own bodies. Nevertheless, God is sovereign; He is just in all His ways. I believe 100% in supernatural healing, binding away spirits and releasing Holy Spirit in their place, anointing with oil, laying on hands from elders, repenting of known sin and going to sin no more, and breaking generational or other curses. When, however, one who walks with the Lord has done all this through faith and they don’t immediately experience a shift in the situation, we must stand in faith and trust that the Lord is all He proclaimed. His promises remain steadfast and sure.

II Corinthians 1:3-4 states, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Instead of asking, “Why”, we need to begin to humble ourselves and turn the “why” into praise. Let us come to the Father on behalf of our children so as to praise God in faith that He is who He says He is as well as stand in the faith we proclaim. Additionally, stop thinking only of your situation and begin to ask, “Lord, in all this suffering, how may I aid and comfort another in theirs.”

Asaph closed his psalm with the words, “When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in Heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on Earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.”

As parents, let us release the bitterness and embrace the God we say we love. Though our feet nearly slipped, allow God to rescue so that our feet are once again planted on solid ground. It isn’t enough to entrust our lives to the Lord, but we must equally, or more so, trust Him with our children.

I Peter 5:10: And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.

 

 

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Chapter 6: Becoming Base and Foolish, part I

“but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. (I Corinthians 1:27-29).”

Most view weakness as foolishness, as if it’s the worst thing that can happen to someone. Adversely, it’s when we weaken ourselves completely before the Father we are able to go beyond human ability. God purposes to nullify the things that are (anything of human ability) so that we have nothing left from which to boast or pull strength.

God has graciously granted mankind His image which includes a great many assets, gifts, attributes, talents, brains, brawn, and so on. His directive for such assets is so we may glorify the King and flourish in the Earth, subduing it as was intended in the Garden of Eden. We are to bring Heaven down to Earth. Unfortunately, mankind, in all its pride, has become more dependent upon such gifts from God in lieu of God. Instead of leaning upon Christ, we use them when we should submit them allowing God to utilize them for the good of all mankind. For instance, if you have a gift of prophecy, you may speak something out of your great intellect instead of waiting upon the Spirit to lead. This is using human power instead of Holy Spirit revelation. Furthermore, if you have a talent of painting, you may for the sake of a huge paycheck paint something not approved of God because you can. You did it with the mindset, “God must be blessing me” when it had nothing to do with God at all.

People who do subject everything to God are considered foolish, childish, silly, and worse. People say, “You can accomplish____________ in your own strength. Why do you call upon God?” These same people, in due season, become humbled by the same God on whom they spit. We who are hidden in Christ recognize we are nothing and no one outside the perfect will of God. We are to become as dust and ash as did Job at the end of his trials. He once leaned heavily on his abilities to accomplish all he did pre-trials. He stirred God’s wrath by justifying himself. Unlike the norm, Job finally saw the error of his ways, humbled himself and was then positioned before the Almighty to be doubly blessed.

When will we see from the perspective of Heaven? When will God’s people humble themselves, make themselves as nothing so that God may intervene? We’re so busy being angry with God for not stepping in or having allowed our predicament in the first place. We are remiss simply because we do not understand He’s attempting to bring us to foolishness so that He may be our wisdom, our solace, our Savior, our everything.

When All My Strength Has Failed

Chapter 6, part I of III

Alexys V. Wolf

 

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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One of many issues with having a chronically ill child is knowing how to cope with other people who do not know what to do with or for you. I have found that people, even those who love us dearly, do not know what to do, so they do nothing and often pull away. They’re afraid to say or do the wrong thing, so they go silent. As the parent, it poses the problem of us becoming offended, angry, saddened or even depressed that friends and family seem to be disappearing left and right, especially when we need them the most. It’s easy to feel abandoned when we’re the most vulnerable because we are already stressed and feeling isolated given the nature of the situation.

What we parents must come to terms with is how to allow others to separate from us without becoming or, at the very least, remaining angry. Just as we ourselves often don’t know what to do, imagine how they feel. They have not endured as have we, they have not suffered and watched our children suffer as have we; they have no concept of what to do because they are not in our shoes. It is vital for our relationships outside the immediate family, as well as for our sanity, to allow people to pull away when necessary without us being embittered against them. Let’s face it, half the time we want to run away! How then can we begrudge others who have the freedom to do so?

Caring for our child is extremely difficult on a myriad of levels and we do not have the right to put that burden on others. We must keep ourselves accountable, but we cannot hold others accountable for not being able to deal with our situation. They cannot possibly grasp the magnitude of having a chronically ill child lest they have or are going through it themselves. It is selfish for us to want others to understand because that would require them having their child become ill as well. That is unfair and unreasonable.

It all goes back to staying our mind on Christ; keeping our minds and hearts set on His love, comfort and mercy. Just as He is considerate of our shortcomings, we too must be considerate of others. Not everyone can cope with the same things, not to mention other folks have their own crosses to bear and we don’t always know how to talk to or assist them. Let us be mindful of what we expect from others. Let us be mindful that we’re all going through something so that we don’t put pressure on our loved ones to be what we think they should. Allow them to be who they are and focus on what is most important – our child’s wellbeing. We must guard our hearts so we are not led astray by the actions (or lack) of others. Let the mind that is in Christ be also in us. Bitterness we allow to take root will hurt us and everyone around us, not excluding the sick child.

 

Proverbs 4:23: Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Hebrews 12:15: See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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Caring for a chronically ill child is marital stress. Ladies and gentlemen, this is no joke for the strongest of marriages! Trying to find alone-time to spend with one another is like searching for a needle in a haystack. If found, attempting to have the energy to enjoy one another’s company without falling asleep tout de suite is virtually impossible! People, such as in our situation, who are caring for a sick child nearly 24/7/365 scarcely have a moment alone for themselves, much less for their spouse. It is sad, but all too true. It could easily crumble the most virile of marriages. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way: 

  • Purpose to steal a moment here and there with a touch, a wink, a conversation, a text; find whatever is intimate between you and your spouse. These little nuances are where your marriage will be sustained until you have actual quality time to spend with one another.
  • Always say “I love you” regardless of how exhausting our day has been. Never neglect one another even if you’re bone tired. The little things matter.
  • Stay attractive even when you want to slob out every moment of every day. Seriously, this is a thing! For me, I put on make-up, do my hair and put on clothes (not a bathrobe!) regularly (though I miss a day here and there), even when I know I won’t be leaving the house that day. It is important that I maintain who I am even though it feels like I’m completely swallowed in care-giving.
  • Find something to watch you both can enjoy in between the stopping to attend your kid’s needs. Togetherness, even sporadically, is more important than you may think.
  • Remind yourself you are not a “team” as that would depict two separate entities. You are, rather, “one” as Christ has brought you together as such. Do not function separately together, but together as in “there is no divide” – you are a united front. 
  • Share the responsibility even if one has a larger role than the other. Don’t be afraid to allow your spouse to help – this is vital to your sanity as well as your marriage.

 

It is of the utmost importance to remind yourself you are in this together and you must face life’s challenges together united as one. Otherwise, it is all too easy to internally go your separate ways without even realizing. The busyness of life is hard enough but, with a chronically ill child in the mix, the busyness can become an insurmountable barrier like the Great Wall of China. Find the time to say “I love you” and, better yet, to show “I love you.” Don’t allow anything to come between you and your spouse. Pray, laugh, cry, aid you child, as one. Above all, put on hope, faith and love in Christ as a united front; this is where you will find your peace and encouragement.

 

Ecclesiastes 4:9: Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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“They (the righteous) will have no fear of bad news” reads Psalm 112:7. For anyone who walks with God who has a chronically ill child, this verse alone has the power to uplift the most downtrodden in the darkest of times. God’s promise to those who love Him and keep his commands is that the righteous will never be forsaken, they will never be shaken.

I speak as one who is, through Jesus’ blood, the righteous seed of Abraham. As such, I have no fear of bad news because I trust the One who upholds His word as well as our family. Over the last 9 years, especially the last 3, I have watched Sophia go up and come down thousands of times over. One by one, we hear a diagnosis for this and for that. Just last week they determined she has dysautonomia, a malfunction of the nervous system. Three times in a week she had to get IV fluids because her body can’t retain them. This is causing chronic dehydration, fevers and tachycardia. Our next step is to visit the neurologist and cardiologist.

I can say without hesitation, I have no fear of bad news because my confidence lies in the God of all creation. It does not mean I like what’s happening or that I am enjoying watching my daughter suffer. It does mean I believe beyond what I see. I trust all things work together for good for those who love God. My heart is secure in Jesus, the Christ. I will praise Him all the more until I see heavenly, divine results concerning Sophia. My encouragement is in personally knowing who God is; in such intimate knowledge, it overrides temporary discouragement.

 

“Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor (Psalm 112:6-9).”

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Chapter Five: Abdicating the Throne of Flesh, part I

“but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified (I Corinthians 9:27, NAS).”

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1, NAS).”

Definition of Abdicate: renounces one’s throne. Synonyms: disown, renounce, give up, refuse, relinquish, repudiate, abandon, turn one’s back on, wash one’s hands of, forgo, waive, abjure

I love this word “abdicate” because it is so in line with the meaning of “deny self”, “die to self”, “take up your cross”, “surrender”, “living sacrifice” and other expressions of ridding our person of the nature of the flesh. We, mankind, have made our flesh our throne from which we rule and no one can tell us what to do – not even God.

We worship self by following our heart when we should deny the heart. Jeremiah 17:9 reads, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” No possible hope can be found in the heart of a man separate from the heart of Jehovah. This is why it is a matter of life and death that we disown the throne we have made of ourselves and abdicate to the King of kings. Do you remember the definition of “surrender” in chapter three? It is to “cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.” The throne of self is the enemy of the Throne of God and must submit.

Since Christ is our only hope, it makes sense that one would have to concede unto the One who can save those who are lost. We must deny ourselves if we are to expect anything of the Lord, especially strength. It’s all too easy for the flesh to appear strong when there are no real struggles afoot but, when things begin to go awry, we can’t help but acknowledge the glaring weakness of the flesh.

Paul, a mighty warrior for the Kingdom gospel, said he “made his body a slave”. This is because he understood full well how askew the flesh of man is, no matter the man, no matter how closely that man walks with the Lord. In fact, it was because of his close relationship with the Lord that he understood the intensely sinful nature of mankind. He went on to say that he made his body a slave so that “I myself will not be disqualified”. Many a person of God has fallen away due to the fleshly nature they refused to abandon, all the while preaching salvation to others.

We read in Mark 8 that, for those who want to save their life, they will lose it and vice versa. We cannot rightly attempt to hold to this life and somehow force it into morality so as to please God. The flesh must be acknowledged and rendered as dead since it already is. This is taking up our cross – it is death to self. The flesh will never be transformed into the image of God; therefore, it cannot be allowed to thrive even when we believe it to be “under control.”

If Jesus had to give up His life due to the nature of the flesh, this tells us the flesh is defiled beyond restoration. Christ did not give up His life that we may have ours; He gave up His life that we may have His. We are to take on His life into our mortal shell. We try too hard as “Christians” to will our flesh into submission or, in other words, we try to keep it controlled, much like a pet Rattlesnake. It is impossible to control the uncontrollable long-term. It must be extinguished; it must be 100% subjected to the holiness of Almighty God. This is the only possible way to become self-controlled – subjected and surrendered to Christ’s life.

You will read this in all my writings because it is all throughout God’s Word. The Bible is clear. The flesh being forced into morality is not the solution. It is weak and we must stop pretending it is strong enough to allow us to overcome our circumstances. To get to the root, flesh is not only weak but altogether defiled and dead in the sight of God; it is irreversibly cursed. It can never produce enough strength or power to aid you in a torrential downpour of life.

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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One of many issues with having a chronically ill child is dealing with the emotional and psychological toll. As a parent, when your child is sick for an extended period of time, for many people, there’s no escape because you are with them 24/7. You’re administering medications, taking them to the next doctor’s appointment or simply holding and comforting him or her hours at a time. To say it is “draining” and “overwhelming” is a gross understatement.

I can only speak from my perspective as I have not journeyed with any other parent and their sick child. I’m certain it is different in each situation but, at the root, we’re all exhausted which makes us the same. Since I don’t have a mountain cabin, a beach house or even a separate office at my disposal to which I can get away and I don’t have the means to hire a nursing staff to care for Sophia, I have to go in my room, shut the door and simply sit in quietude, just me and God. There I am able to regain my sanity once more as I talk to mine and Sophia’s Creator.

Being a caregiver of anyone is difficult in its own right, but caring for your baby of any age is quite another thing. Life can become so overwhelming you don’t know which way to turn. Graham Cooke said this and they are life-changing words by which I choose to live: “We are not here to be overwhelmed by life, by circumstances, by the wickedness of people, or by what the enemy is trying to accomplish. We are here to be overwhelmed by who God is for us.”

As I continue on this path with my God-created daughter, daily I remind myself that God is in love with her and with me. In this remembrance, I rest is who God is in every situation. I am at peace knowing Christ carried this specific burden at the Cross of Calvary. His Kingdom has equipped me with everything I need in each and every moment. When I begin to feel overwhelmed by the circumstances before us, I breath; I commune with the sovereign, holy God, and I choose rest instead of allowing chaos to ensue.

The tactic of Satan is to get us to panic because, when we do, we lose sight of God and His purpose. I am sustained even when I do not know what to do in a given moment. God is faithful, He is just, He is loving and He has a plan; I have walked with Him long enough to experience this fact. According to Romans 8:28, all things (good, bad, uncomfortable, painful, etc.) work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. I bank on this promise every single day. He will not let us down despite how bleak things can appear. I rest in His greatness.

Psalm 27:13-14: 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.