At the beginning of my daughter’s life, the diagnosis of Down syndrome numbed my brain to worry. My synapses froze as my heart grappled with the unexpected U-turn. Doctors and other professionals came and went, making pronouncements and setting up appointments for medical tests and therapies. For a time, I simply nodded and accepted each new duty without question.
When my brain finally began to thaw, worries sprouted like the first dandelions of spring. Just like the wispy seeds multiply and scatter in the breeze, anxieties soon took over every part of my life.
Worry—a frenzied reaction to fear—consumed my thoughts, frayed my emotions, and even ravaged my body. I turned the fear over and over in my mind, examining every angle and “what if.” By Alyssa’s first birthday, I knew I couldn’t go on without a change.
I didn’t understand much about God, but I searched the Scripture for hope. The Bible doesn’t mention Down syndrome, but I discovered it contains the antidote to every fear-driven worry I could conjure.
The Source of Fear
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 ESV)
Satan seeks every opportunity to shoot fear like a flaming arrow into the target of our hearts. He battles God for control of our hearts and minds. God tells us how to follow His lead in the war against Satan.
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 ESV)
Taking every thought captive means we submit our thoughts to the authority of Jesus found in His Word. We destroy Satan’s attacks—lies and fear—with God’s truth.
Worries of Moms with Special Needs Kids
Over the years, I’ve learned that moms in the “Special Needs Kids Club” tend to ask “what if” questions about many of the same concerns. That’s why I will share some of my worries along with God’s powerful Word to destroy fear’s stronghold.
What if she dies?
Some of us face this ‘what if’ right at birth when we should be celebrating life. For others, the question may come later when illness or a surgical procedure rears its ugly head. Either way, your child’s struggle for survival overshadows every other part of life.
A platitude will never erase the concern a loving parent feels for a medically fragile child. But God’s Word is never trite. His truth bears repeating.
[Man’s] days are determined, and the number of his months is with you [God], and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass. (Job 14:5 ESV)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4 ESV)
If there is a possibility your child may not live long, allow God to minister to your needs today. Don’t spoil precious moments with your child by worrying about the future. God will equip you for what is to come in His perfect timing. Simply appreciate each day you have and thank God.
What if she can’t talk, walk, read, or _______________ (fill in your own concern)?
It’s possible your child may never do some of these things. In fact, she may not be able to do any of them. Or she may learn, but only through years of dogged perseverance.
In Genesis, we find a fundamental truth about the value of each person.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26 ESV)
God created your child in His image. This is the sole basis of her value, not what she can—or cannot—do.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:33-34 ESV)
As we focus on God’s priorities for our children, worries about particular skills recede.
What if she can’t respond to God?
The question we’re really asking is, “Has God created, or would He create, a person who could not relate to Him?”
But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14 ESV)
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27 ESV)
Because God made your child, be assured He knows how to communicate and relate with her.
What if someone abuses her?
Our children with special needs are vulnerable. Many struggle with verbal communication. Our mama bear instincts kick in, and we hesitate to allow anyone to get too close. But being the sole caretaker will run us into the ground. We need to accept help.
How can we wisely widen our circle without being controlled by fear? Begin by recognizing there is One who loves your child more than you.
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5 ESV)
Knowing God has a loving purpose for our special needs children, we can take prudent precautions and trust God with them.
What if she doesn’t have any friends?
Humans are built for relationship, and our children with special needs are no different. Yet friendships are often elusive.
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24 ESV)
When evaluating friendships for our children, it helps to think outside the box. We must try to understand what makes relationships meaningful to them. Their needs may be different from our own needs. We can also be content even if there is just one friend.
And there always is at least one Friend. His name is Jesus. Remind your child that Jesus is her forever friend.
What if I can’t get the right educational setting for her?
“I’m just a mom. What do I know?” We sometimes feel inadequate and helpless when surrounded by educational experts. Instinct tells us what our child needs. But the professionals have other ideas. Advocating under these conditions is daunting.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)
What if she has a meltdown in public?
We worry about the swiveled heads, stares, whispers, and those turning down a different aisle to avoid us. “Why isn’t she disciplining that child?” We fear condemnation. But God doesn’t want us to worry so much about what other people think.
The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. (Proverbs 29:25 ESV)
Can you be content knowing God may be the only one who “gets it?” When we focus on pleasing God, He helps us tolerate the ignorance and even the occasional meanness of others.
What if I can’t handle all her needs?
Our kids have significant needs. Even the healthiest mom worries about not being able to do it all. But what if you’re not completely healthy? You might be growing older and weaker, even as your child’s needs increase.
The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. (Psalm 145:15 ESV)
There’s no guarantee we will be able to handle all our child’s needs. But when we surrender our illusion of self-sufficiency to God, He will provide for needs as they arise.
What if I die and there’s no one to take care of her?
And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Luke 12:22-25 ESV)
God knows the number of our days. Our worry won’t change His plan, but it may change our quality of life. We should be more like birds – take one day at a time. Do what we can to prepare but recognize there are factors outside of our control. Always remember, though, that there’s nothing beyond God’s control.
What if I can’t pay the expenses?
Special needs costs add up quickly. Providing special equipment, medications, transportation, surgeries, doctors, therapies, caregivers, and more becomes overwhelming.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV)
What if my other children feel neglected or overburdened?
God designed families. He specifically equips us to accomplish what we’re called to do. He placed each child in our families for a purpose. God knows you may need to give more attention to one child than the others. He knows parents have problems and make mistakes. He prepares us for every circumstance.
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21 ESV)
I can depend on God to cover me, filling in every gap of my human failing and weakness.
The Shield of God’s Word
Jesus said we would have troubles in this world. There’s always something to worry about. But God’s Word protects your mind and heart from Satan’s lies and fear.
But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. (Psalm 3:3 NLT)
I encourage you to continue searching God’s Word for more biblical encouragement to apply to your own struggles.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Maskot
Annie Yorty uses her writing and speaking to encourage others to perceive God’s person, presence, provision, and purpose in the unexpected twists and turns of life. Married to her high school sweetheart and living in Pennsylvania, she mothers a teen, two adult children (one with intellectual disabilities), and a furry beast labradoodle. Please connect with her at http://annieyorty.com/, Facebook, and Instagram.