What’s the point of all we do? No one thanks us for showing unconditional love to our child who has mental illness (MI). No one knows our heartache. Or our loneliness. What keeps us going? How do we continue to support our child with little or help or no recognition?
We don’t see the fruit of our labor like other moms raising kids without MI. There are days when discouragement sets in. Thoughts of our child’s future taunt us.
Will he ever be fully healed? Will joy and peace ever return to him? Will he ever find his place in life?
We’re tempted to shake our fist at God and cry, “Why do you allow this misery to continue?” How is it possible to resist the temptation to lash out at God? By remaining in His Word and clinging to His promises.
How do we face another day? What does keep us going? Certainly we’re driven by our steadfast love for our child. We’re also propelled by the rewards God promises.
Matthew reminds us that there will be an eternal payoff. He tenderly shifts our focus by saying,
“Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20).
Eye on the Prize:
MI tempts us to abandon our faith in God. For those who trust in God, Jeremiah offers encouragement.
“… ‘your life shall be as a prize to you, because you have put your trust in Me, says the Lord’” [Jeremiah 39:18b (NKJV)].
For those who earnestly seek Him:
I can’t imagine dealing with MI without access to a real and living God. When earthly reality gets shattered, I can rely on the Truth that God exists. He not only invites us to turn to him in our distress, but He promises to reward us for doing so.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
For those who persevere under trial:
When things get tough, it helps to have someone cheering us on. Teaching was especially tough for me when multiple sclerosis (MS) hit. My husband kept assuring me, “You can do this.” God reassures us that we can endure with His help. He doesn’t say, “See if you can make this for one more year.” That would sound IMPOSSIBLE. He calls us to trust Him one day at a time. Just like when He told the Israelites wandering in the wilderness to trust Him for manna for each day. For those of us who trust him afresh each morning, He promises a reward.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
The online Oxford University Press dictionary defines “persevere” as to, “Continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.”
Is that a picture of your efforts? Do you continue to do all that is within your power to help your child, even though deep down inside you suspect it won’t make a difference?
James tells you that you will be rewarded for persevering under trial—for ministering to your child in so many ways and for such a long time.
For those who run as God’s athlete:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
Running the race God has set before us involves strenuous effort, self-control, and concentration.
In the face of MI, we focus solely on fixing our child’s problems. Like a marathon race, our track requires strenuous effort. We can say we ended the day victoriously if we devoted strenuous effort to seek God in the trial.
Ours is a daily battle of fighting fears, self-pitying thoughts, and anger.
When circumstances take a turn for the worst, I’ve had to deliberately interrupt my own negative thinking.
Why must I have to face this AGAIN? I’m just so tired of—No! Dear Father, put a hedge about my thoughts and emotions. Block out any negative thoughts. Help me deal with this situation. Give me steady emotions and Your wisdom.
We can exert self-control. Self-control that will be seen in our gentle responses to our child, regardless of his actions. Restraint that doesn’t come from self-will, but from the Holy Spirit in us.
We can demonstrate a constant concentration on our goal. Many of us function with a clear focus on heavenly matters, in addition to life’s pressing concerns. Yes, we help our child find good treatment, compassionate therapists, and a purpose for their life. In the midst of it all, we also remember to invest Truth into his heart. We share verses and pray with him. And we remind him that God’s power is greater than any problems. We reassure him that God is still on the throne.
Run your race with renewed confidence. God will enable you today and reward you for all eternity. He’ll give you treasures in heaven and a crown of life. That will truly be the best payoff ever!