You are not alone. Most parents have felt like giving up many times during their child-rearing years. However, some parents have more difficult “job descriptions” than others, because no two families are exactly alike in their demands on parents.
The challenge of raising a handicapped child places great demands on a family, particularly if there are other children to care for as well.
- Parents of these children have been called to a special ministry that may require serious lifestyle changes even more drastic than those necessary for other home-educating families.
- They will need to concentrate on their special ministry in the home rather than pursuing other ministries in the church or outside personal interests. As a result, they may not get the quiet time, rest, and exercise they need to keep up with the heavy demands on their time and energy.
- They may experience more serious doubts about their ability to provide adequate care and training for these special children because of pressure from highly trained professionals who insist on enrolling them in specialized programs.
- They may succumb to fatigue and depression by over-scheduling themselves in the attempt to “prove” themselves worthy of raising and training their own child with special needs.
- They struggle making decisions about accepting social, educational, and/or financial aid from a number of educational and/or social service agencies who, in turn, exert varying degrees of control, limiting a family’s freedom.
- Then, when a family finally does determine to keep or bring their handicapped child home, and succeeds in doing so with minimal intervention, there are tremendous adjustments to be made in the home, and very little spiritual, educational, or moral support is available.
- Many parents have no idea where to begin planning a Christian home education for their special child.
All of these, and many more demands, can quickly add up to severe stress and burnout, and a tremendous temptation to “Go back to Egypt” and let the world take care of the burden.
Why should parents of handicapped children be committed to training their own children at home? If they cannot answer this question from a scriptural basis without wavering, they probably will not succeed in training their special children at home.
Short-term “experiments” often end in disaster due to lack of commitment and faith in God, because the demands are so overwhelming. Home education of the handicapped will only succeed with the direct help of God the Father, through the power of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and the comforting guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is a faith that needs constant feeding through a daily walk with the Lord.
The Lord’s Special Provision
God, in His perfect foreknowledge and wisdom, carefully planned the composition of each family, as well as the special circumstances that each family should be faced with, so that each individual could achieve God’s intended purpose.
The good news is, with every challenge the Lord allows a family to encounter; He also provides the means for victory. Unfortunately, many people do not understand how to claim that victory. Jesus gave the solution to stress and burnout in Matthew 11:28-30 so everyone could claim the promised rest for the soul that so many frustrated parents yearn for.
Jesus is qualified to give you rest because He had the personal experience of victoriously bearing the burdens of the entire world.
What are His requirements for spiritual rest?
- Come to Jesus. God gave the Israelites the tabernacle, along with complete instructions in how they were to meet God there. Christians can come to Jesus in a similar manner, bringing not animal sacrifices, but their bodies as living sacrifices. Analogies in the Christian life can be made for each aspect of the tabernacle and the sacrificial system.
- Be “yoked” to Jesus through salvation and submission to His teachings.
- He knows the way; you need only keep step and not fight against Him. He bears the majority of the burden for you as you stay close to Him.
- Learn of the meekness and humility of Jesus. Following Jesus’ example of meekness and humility will result in “rest unto your souls.”
If you find yourself in the depths of despair at any time, for any reason, Jesus’ promise of rest for your soul is available. Evaluate your situation or crisis from the perspective of the meek and lowly yoke of Jesus. You cannot cling to bitterness, the temporary things of this world, or impure thoughts and lusts while bearing Jesus’ yoke of meekness and humility. These are the hard and heavy things you don’t have to bear, and Jesus promises that without them. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.
Julie Flanagan is a board certified music therapist, specializing in educational services. She homeschooled her five children in San Diego.