This one is for all of you who are doing this special needs parenting thing and you absolutely cannot take *one. more. day.* of holding him down so he doesn’t bite holes in his own hands.
These bits of wisdom have brought me tremendous comfort at one time or another, and I hope they bring some of that to you, too.
First, of course, from the book of Job.
Job 36:15-16–“But those who suffer, he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.”
When we went through a period of time during which the car alarm kept getting bumped on my key fob, William’s suffering was tremendous. That car alarm used to ruin our whole day if it would go off just once. I find comfort in the idea that God reaches out to him in those terrifying moments and speaks to him in peace and love.
What about those times when you pray and pray and feel like it’s useless?
“You don’t see how many of them (demons) fall and turn their backs with every prayer you say. You only see how much you are wounded. But they are also thrashed; they also suffer. Every time we are patient, they flee with leaps and bounds, and every time we say the prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner), they are seriously injured. So, at the time of battle, when you are firing shots and bullets, don’t expect them to throw marshmallows and chocolates.” –Elder Joseph the Hesychast
Lobbing candy in a gunfight, you know? They’re not stupid.
Then there’s, of course, those times we feel like we’re being ignored…
“For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” Psalm 22:24
Or for the times you feel like you’ve just been given too much and you couldn’t do another minute even if you wanted to:
“Let me tell you a true story. Once, because of my continual and frightful temptations, I was overcome with sadness and faintheartedness, and I presented my case to God as if I had been treated unjustly. I was complaining because He kept allowing so many temptations to befall me without curbing them even a little, that I couldn’t even catch my breath. In this time of bitterness, I heard a very sweet and clear voice within me say with extreme compassion, ‘Will you not endure everything for my love?’ As soon as I heard that voice, I broke out into many tears…I shall never forget that voice, which was so sweet that the temptation and all my faintheartedness immediately disappeared.”–Elder Joseph the Hesychast
And if you’re looking for the words to pray, the Psalms do such a good job of providing them:
“Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish, and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.”–Psalm 31:9, 10
Finally, I have these last few by some truly great saints. These can be tough, but they’re also some of the best, and I’m glad someone said ’em.
“A continuously happy life produces extremely unhappy consequences. In nature we see that there are not always pleasant springs and fruitful summers, and sometimes autumn is rainy and winter cold and snowy, and there is flooding and wind and storms…For the most part, in times of plenty (man) forgets himself, but in times of various sorrows he becomes more attentive to his salvation.”–St. Ambrose of Optina
“Troubles are usually the brooms and shovels that smooth the road to a good man’s fortune; and many a man curses the rain that falls upon his head, and knows not that it brings abundance to drive away hunger.”–St. Basil the Great
And, finally, my absolute favorite:
“God’s grace always assists those who struggle, but this does not mean that a struggler is always in the position of a victor. Sometimes in the arena, the wild animals did not touch the righteous ones, but by no means were they all preserved untouched.
What is important is not victory or the position of a victor, but rather the labor of striving towards God and devotion to Him.
Though a man may be found in a weak state, that does not at all mean that he has been abandoned by God. On the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ was in trouble, as the world sees things. But when the sinful world considered Him to be completely destroyed, in fact He was victorious over death and Hades. The Lord did not promise us positions as victors as a reward for righteousness, but told us, ‘In the world you will have tribulation—but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world’ (Jn. 16:33).
The power of God is effective when a person asks for the help from God, acknowledging his own weakness and sinfulness. This is why humility and striving towards God are the fundamental virtues of a Christian.”–St. John Maximovitch
If you’re there, in that horrible place now, I hope you know you’re not alone. I hope these words from holy Scriptures and holy people encourage you to fight another day.
God bless you in your struggle. ❤