For many parents summer time means a break from the pressures of school. For parents of children with special medical or educational needs, summer doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be a break. Often summer picnics take a backseat to yet another round of labs, another therapy session, or sometimes new specialists running new diagnostic tests.
About a month ago I spent a morning sitting in a waiting room while my youngest daughter had yet another round of psychological and educational testing. It’s not the first time I’ve anxiously sat in a doctor’s office, and I know it won’t be the last.
Perhaps worse than the nervousness of appointments is the emotional turmoil of the days when I hear a new diagnosis. Sometimes it’s a doctor’s explanation at a routine appointment. Sometimes the shock comes when I see something unexpected written on a courtesy copy of an office visit. Even when I suspected something was wrong, it may still be difficult to accept a new diagnosis.
I often find myself spiraling into a cycle of doubt, self-pity, and frantic attempts to solve everything as soon as possible. As I sat in the doctor’s office waiting for Lydia to finish working with the psychologist, I realized that I don’t do anyone any favors by getting myself worked into a tizzy over this (or any) testing. My frantic responses are little more than an outward demonstration of how I’ve inwardly taken my eyes off of God. When faced with a new diagnosis, I need to cling to the truths of scripture — the verses that remind me that God is always in control.
Relax, Take a Deep Breath, and Do Not be Afraid:
No matter how bad the situation appears, worrying and fretting won’t make it better. There will be a time for specialist visits, second opinions, educational plans, etc. It doesn’t all have to be done immediately.
“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:7 (NKJV)
“God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 1 Timothy 1: 7 (NKJV)
Focus on the Positives:
Regardless of the diagnosis, your child is still the same child today as he was yesterday and the day before. The same child who laughed when you kissed his belly, the same child who snuggled in your arms as a baby, or the same child who drew robots with rockets on their shoes. Even for parents, it’s all too easy to lose sight of the child and only see the diagnosis.
“Whatever is lovely — whatever is excellent and praiseworthy — think on these things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Never Lose Hope:
God is still God, regardless of the circumstances. And God isn’t limited by circumstances, a specific diagnosis, or even a doctor’s worst prognosis.
He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his great power that is within us.” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV)
Ask God for Wisdom:
When you don’t know what to do next, God does. When you don’t know which recommendation is most appropriate, God does.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 (NIV)
Know that You are not Alone:
Regardless of the diagnosis or circumstances, you are not the only person to walk down a path that seems so lonely. Even if you never find a friend that can truly understand the struggles, God can.
God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.” Hebrews 13: 5-6 (NIV)
Finally, Trust God:
I don’t always (or even often) understand God’s plan. I’m thankful that I don’t have to. I’m thankful that God never commands that we understand — He simply asks us to trust Him and follow.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”
I realize that God’s plans and my plans may not always align. Isaiah 55:7-8 says God’s ways are not our ways. I still find comfort in knowing that God has a plan and that God loves my children even more than I do.
Many of these verses are scribbled on index cards that are stuffed in tote bags, the bottom of my purse, the bathroom mirror, and even one in the corner of my computer screen. It is so easy to see the difficulties of today, to worry about the struggles ahead of us, and to forget that God is always good.
I’m sharing my reminders so that I can regain my focus and so that perhaps someone else will be encouraged along their journey. What verses encourage you when faced with a new diagnosis or difficult days?
Amy’s note: I’m adding free printable cards to this post by my dear friend Hope (not her real name). When I was first diagnosed with Idiopathic Tracheal Stenosis and was facing surgery – Hope was the one that brought me a set of handwritten cards with a hole punch and a little metal ring. On each card was a Bible verse to encourage me. I will never forget her kindness or the encouragement it brought me during that very difficult time. She has lived through so much – so many diagnosis, and she helps encourage those going through a similar experience in her every day life. The printable cards at the end of this post were designed by my daughter and include all of the verses in this post plus a few more. You can print them, hole punch them, tie them together with ribbon or a ring, and take them with you wherever you go or give them to a friend in need of this encouragement. May God’s word encourage you in this season of life.