- What we believe
- Spiritual Help
- How we serve
- Christian Aid & Relief
- Adult Discipleship
- Campus Ministry
- Christian Giving
- Congregational Counseling
- Lutheran Schools
- Military Services
- Ministerial Education
- Multi-Language Publications
- Special Ministries
- Women's Ministry
- Youth and Family Ministries
- Northwestern Publishing House
- WELS Administration
- News & Events
- Streams media
- About WELS
Talking with other moms whose children have special needs and reading their essays, books, and blogs, I've noticed they often mention that well-meaning friends and acquaintances tend to say certain things to them. Some of the favorites seem to be "God only gives these special kids to special mothers" and "God knows you are strong enough to handle a child with special needs." I cannot count how many times I have heard or read such statements! They cause many thoughts to run through my head.
I wonder if these people have any idea of the fear and grief that my heart feels each day? I know what it is to look forward to my typical child's future, but when I imagine Liam's adulthood, I feel huge amounts of fear. I feel fear that he WON'T live to be an adult. I feel fear that he WILL live to be an adult who cannot walk, cannot care for himself, and must be diapered. I have great amounts of anxiety over what that will mean for my life. In fact, my fear about Liam's future is so great that I consciously do not allow myself to think about it! So while I dream about my little girl's future, I don't even go more than a year out with Liam! Because of the fear and anxiety that I have, my motto with Liam is "one day at a time." These doesn't really sound like the thoughts of the "special and very strong" person that people seem to think has a child with special needs.
My fear about the future is only one aspect of my weakness. I won’t begin to list them all for you, but I will assure you there are MANY! I have quite a network of friends whose children also have special needs, and all of our sentiments seem similar. Although we can each look around us and see abundant blessings, inside there is a part of us that is WEAK, EXHAUSTED, WORRIED, AND TERRIFIED.
So I wonder if REALLY the opposite is true about the "strong, special" parents of kids with special needs. Maybe God chose us not because of our specialness or strength, but because we have weaknesses in certain areas. Please hear me correctly: I certainly do not mean that we were chosen as a punishment for certain weaknesses. Rather, maybe God allowed the challenges associated with parenting our children into our lives, not because we are so special or so strong, but because in our weakness HE will be glorified. This is true of other challenges in life; why wouldn't it be true of ours?
When Paul is talking about the "thorn in his flesh" he says, "But he (the Lord) said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
Gideon is a perfect example of the Lord’s power being made perfect in human weakness. During his time, the Israelites were in the hands of the Midianites. The LORD went to Gideon and, after calling him a mighty warrior, told him, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14). I can imagine that Gideon was in total shock. Maybe Gideon thought that God got the wrong guy – mistaken identity? Gideon immediately reminded God that not only was he the weakest in his family, but his family was from the weakest tribe. What an illogical choice he was. Human thinking says, "Really, is this the man whom God chose to save Israel?!" The Lord's answer is "I will be with you. . . . Peace! Do not be afraid." (Judges 6:16,23).
How many times have I reminded the Lord that, like Gideon, I am not the right choice for this “special” assignment? My list of reasons that I am ill prepared to mother a child with special needs is at least 100 items long. I remind God of these reasons (and of all of the things that I WAS prepared for - all the typical milestones and growing pains), and his answer in scripture is "Am I not sending you?"
Do you have a family member with special needs? WELS Special Ministries provides Christ-centered, simplified messages for those who are developmentally disabled through its ministry-by-mail program.
Dear Lord, I need your help. I feel overwhelmed, like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. Help me cast my cares on you so I can focus once more on the cross and on the salvation that is mine through your Son, Jesus. Amen.
Read what a volunteer at Jesus Cares camp at Camp Phillip learned about the love for Christ from her week working with campers.
Looking for more stories and resources that relate to your life situation? WELS has developed materials for some of life's biggest challenges and changes including going to college, death of a loved one, financial problems, divorce, parenting, fear, aging, and more.