“No matter where we go on a field trip, there’s one important rule to follow,” I advised my student teacher. “Return with the same amount of students.”
What’s the trick of keeping track of twenty-five eight year olds? Constantly count to make sure no one has wandered away. And appoint a chaperone to walk at the end of the line.
As long as my students followed me, they were safe.
We’re like those young children. It’s necessary for us to follow the One who can keep us safe.
Many of us raising a child with mental illness (MI) can’t see where life’s headed. Sometimes it’s like driving in a blizzard. The white-out conditions make it difficult to find the road. And blind our eyes to the curves ahead. We peer into the distance, trying to find safe patches of road. Holding our breath as we maneuver through unknown territory. Bracing for slick spots—icy patches in the road that would send us spinning out of control.
Suddenly we spot two faint dots straight ahead. Could it be another car? As we inch our way closer it becomes easier to identify the lights. We breathe a sigh of relief. Another car IS driving ahead. Casting light onto the road.
Thank You, God. I’ll just follow those tail lights.
There’s relief in following a leader. Especially when God is the One pointing the way.
But in the midst of our trials, it’s sometimes hard to find God. Job described his search.
“Oh, that I knew where I might find Him. Look, I go forward, but He is not there, And backward, but I cannot perceive Him; When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him” [Job 23:3a, 8-9 (NKJV)].
Can you relate? Do you look into the past to see if God left any hints that your child would become depressed, suicidal, psychotic, enraged, or tormented? Do you try to track God in your current circumstances, wondering if He’s working at all? Do you look into the future and try to figure out how God could help your child?
Job was able to endure great losses because he followed God. In the midst of his suffering he stated with assurance that God “knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread” (Job 23:10-12).
We, too, can follow God’s steps by treasuring His Word. God goes before us as our guide. He speaks to us through scriptures.
In the Bible we all find comfort for our broken heart.
The mother of a child who displays unprovoked anger and rage finds the Source of unconditional love and long-suffering. As she trusts in His powers to help her endure, she looks to the One who can restore perfect peace in her child.
The mother of a psychotic child finds godly wisdom to know where to turn for help.
The mother of an emotionally fragile child finds examples of Bible characters who found inner strength from the Holy Spirit.
The mother of a troubled child without a clear diagnosis reads about a Creator who knows all. He knows thoughts before they are spoken and numbers every hair on heads. She can rest in the knowledge that He will guide experts to finding a diagnosis.
The mother of a suicidal child finds promises of our Protector who can prevent harm.
The mother of a MI prodigal can sleep a bit easier when she reads about our omnipresent and omnipotent Father (who is everywhere and all-powerful).
In the New Testament we find Christ’s desire for us to follow Him. Jesus invited many to follow Him saying, “‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12).
We also read about how to follow. There was one woman who followed so close to Christ that she could touch the hem of His garment. What led her to follow so closely? Mark 5:25-26 tells us, “A woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.”
Sound familiar? Has your child “suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors” and gotten worse instead of better? Have you spent all you have on therapists?
No wonder the woman knew she’d get relief from her suffering if she could only touch Christ’s clothes (Mark 5:27-28).
Not only did Jesus heal her, but he sent her away with these words, “Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:34).
So ‘maintain a safe distance’ when traveling through life. Stay close to Jesus. He still frees people from suffering and helps them go in peace.