Mark Hatfield tells of touring Calcutta with Mother Teresa and visiting the so-called “House of Dying,” where sick children are cared for in their last days, and the dispensary, where the poor line up by the hundreds to receive medical attention. Watching Mother Teresa minister to these people, feeding and nursing those left by others to die, Hatfield was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the suffering she and her co-workers face daily. “How can you bear the load without being crushed by it?” he asked. Mother Teresa replied, “My dear Senator, I am not called to be successful, I am called to be faithful.”
“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones …” (Luke 16:10).
If I were being honest with you then I’d have to share that sometimes parenting a child with special needs feels overwhelming. If you’re a parent of a child wiht special needs you’ve probably have had someone ask you a question similar to what Hatfield asked Mother Teresa:
“How can you bear the load without being crushed by it?”
The key to parenting, I believe, is being “faithful in little things.” Let me explain. Noah was a man who was faithful to God. God told Noah to build the ark, and as a lot of you know, things got bad for Noah. People made fun of him, no one believed him, he was ridiculed day and night. But Noah was “faithful in little things.”
Noah kept on keeping on. He continued to build the ark. And when that day finally came, and the rain started to fall, I know he was glad he was faithful to obey what God told him to do.
Parenting is a little bit like the ark. God gave you your children, and in my case, my children for me to raise. He knew my sons’ would have autism. Like Noah building the ark, parenting kids on the autism spectrum can be hard. It will take years of work, and for awhile you may wonder how your parenting will turn out, but in the end it’s going to be worth it. Why? because you followed God and were faithful to the end.
You got through those hard times, those temper tantrums, those days of potty training, hitting, throwing, and whatever else comes your way. You kept on keeping on. And you are going to be rewarded just like Noah was. You are going to eventually see the fruits of your labor and hopefully one day your child is going to come back and say, “Thank you. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for being so faithful.” Maybe s/he won’t be able to verbally express it, but I’ll bet they feel it in their hearts.
So my encouragement to you today and also to myself is this: Parenting is hard, but don’t give up! Persevere and be faithful. God is watching and He knows every hard day that you go through. Whether you have a special-needs child, a strong-willed child, a toddler, or a teenager, He knows. And all He asks is that you are faithful. He will do the rest.
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Michael Woods, M.A. BCaBA CPI