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Families with children diagnosed with severe illness or disability

As Christians, our families and marriages are a gift from God, and we should treasure them with all our heart. When a family member is diagnosed with a severe illness or disability, the best thing we can do for them is to pray and seek the help of the Lord.

Parents want to protect their children and keep them safe. It is particularly upsetting to learn that your child has a chronic illness or disability. When a child is diagnosed such, it is normal for parents to be in denial, to feel angry, guilty and sad. Stress levels increase when caring for an ill or disabled child.

Caring for an ill or disabled child
The effects of caring for a child who is ill or disabled can sometimes be overwhelming. Finances can become strained. If the child’s parents have both been working outside the home, one might now need to give up work in order to care for the child. There will be a regular range of medical appointments, follow-ups, meetings with teachers, therapists, facilitators, etc.

Parents might also experience a sense of being let down by their family and friends, who may not provide the support expected from them. This can result in arguments within the marriage, as parents may not feel in a position to complain to anyone else. If either spouse feels they are doing all the work, have all the responsibility or do not feel appreciated, these feelings can cause significant strain and tension on the relationship. Working together to care for an ill or disabled child can help to prevent ‘burnout’ through sharing the load. Giving each other time away from care duties will provide much-needed breaks.

It can be extremely difficult to find the time and energy to be available and attentive to one another when caring for a sick or disabled child. It might even seem selfish or insensitive to be thinking about the warmth of a loving relationship when your child is ill or disabled. Children benefit in many ways when they are cared for in a loving and caring environment, where parents are thoughtful and considerate of each other. When relationships are tense, couples can be distant with each other, which in turn can influence the quality of family life.

Here are some suggestions for lightening the load:

  • Build a support network you can rely on to help ease your load.
  • Also, make time to take care of yourself – spiritually, physically and mentally. Spending time alone in God’s presence will help you regain your spiritual energy and focus.
  • Eating well, exercising and staying connected to hobbies or other interests can help keep stress in check.
  • Don’t feel guilty to take some time for your mental health. In the long run, doing so will help both you and your child.
  • Find dependable, competent friends who can take care of your child whilst you and your spouse do something together. It might seem frightening to leave your child with someone else, but it should be prioritised from time to time.
  • Talking to other parents you trust and rely on is one of the best ways to deal with your feelings. Other parents who are going through similar experiences can provide a much-needed network for listening, friendship, useful information and advice.
  • Having friends in similar circumstances can help to diffuse tension and frustration between partners in a marriage.

 

Pray for sick or disabled children
Father, although these children may have many obstacles in life, we pray for their salvation. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:10). We pray for these children to grow in obedience.

Father, we pray for these children to have courage. Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust; I will not fear… (Psalm 56:3-4). They have many challenging things to accomplish each day. We pray that they will have the boldness to try new things and overcome any unhealthy fears they may have.

We pray for these children to love others, despite their struggle with social skills. May they grow in their social skills and learn how to make friends.

Father, we pray for these children to grow in wisdom, stature and favour with You and with man. We pray for them to grow in wisdom and understanding. We pray that their minds would focus, and they would grow in the areas they struggle in.

Father, these children have to work extra hard to learn to do things that come naturally to so many others. We pray for them for perseverance, and that they continue in strength to learn and grow. May they never tire of doing what is good. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:9).

Father, we pray for these children’s protection. We ask You to cover them with Your presence and that they will find refuge under Your wings; may Your faithfulness be their shield and rampart.

Father, we pray for these children’s purpose, and that they would grow up into the men and women You have created them to be.

Father, we pray for these children to believe in You, but also to love You and long to follow You with all their heart, all their mind and all their strength.

 

Pray for the families
Lord, please restore the respect and honour that once defined how families treated one another. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honour giving preference to one another… (Romans 12:10).

Father, soften the hearts of parents, so their children feel loved and cared for in a God-fearing family.

We pray for fathers and mothers to be excellent examples of godly men and women to the children in their care. Let Your humility, mercy, kindness and peace rule each heart.

Rebuild every broken relationship and fill the heart of every member of the family with trust in You, their Saviour.

Father, let everything that does not glorify You be uprooted from these families, even according to Your promise in Matthew 15:13. Destroy and remove all anger, jealousy, hatred, malice, rebellion, vengeance and regret.

Father, send Your peace into these families, and we pray that Your healing power would eliminate every hurt and mend every broken heart.

Father, please strengthen the bond of families. Help them to love and to move beyond the point where they simply tolerate one other. Teach them to work in unity, as Your Body. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. (Colossians 3:14).

We pray that the joy of the Lord will be their strength.

We pray for Your Name alone to be glorified in families who are caring for a sick or disabled child.

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