Thursday, July 25, 2013

Finding Christ in the Struggle

As she contemplated the surgery that her daughter was about to endure, Beth wondered how this could possibly be the right answer. How was breaking her child's legs, in essence crippling her, the way to help her walk?

She had prayed about it for months. It was not the first and would not be the last challenge that her child and family would face, but this one was hitting her harder than any of the previous trials.

Born at 26 weeks gestation, her daughter had endured a grade III intraventricular brain bleed which resulted in cerebral palsy. As part of her cp, Suzy's legs were permanently twisted. The surgery she was to undergo was designed to straighten them.Until now, her mobility was limited to moving with the aid of a walker. Through the results of this surgery, doctors felt she would be capable of walking on her own. This was a big step towards independence, which was her parents desire and prayer for Suzy.
But why God, Beth implored, did the method of treatment have to be so cruel and extreme? Beth was afraid. And so was her child.

Have you ever been faced with a situation like this? Knowing that you are trying to do what's best for your child, but also knowing that there will be extreme discomfort and possibly even pain involved? Has this left you wondering where Christ is in your struggle?

Leaning on and trusting God had become a way of life for Beth from the time she was a child. Thankfully, her daughter's journey had made her even stronger in her faith. So she leaned on God for comfort with scripture. 

Philippians 4:6-7:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

The surgery was considered a success by the doctors, but it was only the beginning of the trial. After Suzy recovered for six weeks in casts, more challenges arose. The ease of learning to walk was not what they had expected. Physical therapy was intensely painful for Suzy. Knowing her daughter's high tolerance for pain, this brought Beth to her knees. After several visits at a rehab facility, Beth decided to call on their in-home physical therapist.
Hiding in her bathroom, out of the sight of her daughter and the therapist, Beth cried to God as she listened to her daughter scream in pain. Thankfully, after this visit, Suzy's therapy became more bearable. Following seven months of fear and anxiety, Beth was finally able to see a light at the end of the tunnel as Suzy made tremendous strides in her ability to walk. 

How can we find Christ in our struggles so He can sustain us and give us strength? Is it even possible to find God in the midst of such pain?

Throughout the trials of her daughter's surgery, Beth looked to God for her strength and comfort. Although she experienced fear in the process, she also found hope. As Suzy turned a corner and she was able to see the success of this horrible ordeal, she found this verse that gave her clarity.

John 9:3b, NIV:
Neither this man (child) nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him (her).”

Over time, Beth began to see Christ in the circumstances surrounding their family and this medical ordeal. Friends brought meals, gifts for her daughter, and spent time visiting. A wheelchair ramp was built by the men of their church. Thoughtful cards were received. Their family was ministered to in ways that she had never expected. These were the hands and feet of Christ.

Three years later, Beth celebrates as her daughter walks independently down the aisle of the church for choir performances. Watching, the congregation also cheers on this child who has endured so much. God has truly been glorified as they witness this miraculous transformation.

Though the challenges of their child's journey continue, this family is thankful that they also continue to find Jesus Christ. They see it in the healing that He has done in their daughter and through the comfort and clarity of His Word. And they find it in the love that He gives them through friends and loved ones who support them.

As parents of special needs children, we are often left wondering how we will make it through our circumstances. Admittedly, it is not easy. We find ourselves in the valley again and again. It is important to remember that the ways Christ presents himself may be unexpected- relationships, meals, wheelchair ramps, gifts. But even in our pain, we must look and expect to see Him. We must recall His promises to us. Through our struggles, my prayer is that we can always find His redeeming grace, remembering the blessing that He is with us always and forever, until the ends of the earth.

"Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20 

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