It was an overcast and muggy afternoon and I needed to feel productive outside the confines of a house with a never ending chore list. I grabbed the nearest basket and headed out to the chokecherry tree.
I’d just spent three days in the hospital with our 15 yr old who ‘d had surgery. It was a mentally taxing experience. It’s a hard thing to see your child in pain- physically yes, and even more so when there’s emotional pain as well.
Garrett was born with a cleft lip and palate and several surgeries as a baby and toddler to correct his facial deformity had left him with a severe underbite and misaligned teeth as a result. This surgery was going to put him on the right track to fix all that, and he’d needed to wait all these years for his face to mature and growth to slow before it could be done. The time had finally come and we were as ready as we could be for a surgery that would break his jaw and surgically attach a device that would take up much of his mouth and, through uncomfortable twice daily adjustments, would move his jaw forward into place over three months. He would need to relearn to speak properly as his palate would be moving forward. And then, just as his healing was almost complete, the whole process would probably be repeated.
We were prepared. We had waited for this. I had watched Garrett struggle to chew food and suffer embarrassment over his appearance for long enough. But sometimes the road gets rougher before it becomes smooth.
Everything went as expected in the operating room, but the following two days were rough. Massive facial swelling, bleeding, pain, the inability to talk, or eat, difficulty even drinking sent my boy, who had struggled with a positive self image to begin with, into a whirlwind of change that led to despair. He didn’t voice this to me. But he was silent. And despondent. He wouldn’t drink. He barely spoke. At times I would catch him quickly wipe a stray tear from the side of his swollen face. With words he struggled to speak, he pleaded for me to take him home, even though his condition warranted another night in the hospital. And as his Mom, I knew the inner battle he was fighting. And it hurt me too.
I sat helpless with this child who was so close to becoming a man, yet still needed his Mom. On the first recovery day, when he was still groggy from anesthesia and narcotics, I sat with him and wiped the blood from his nose and suctioned it from his mouth when it would begin to gurgle out and drip down his chin and neck. On the next day, the bleeding had slowed and he was more alert. I figured all was well. But I offered drinks that he refused. I tried to make him laugh, and got nothing. We watched funny movies. I made light conversation. I made no conversation and just sat with him when everything else failed. I missed my children at home, and the baby who still nursed several times a day. But I was so glad that I was able to be there offering 100% of myself to him.
Desperate by the end of day 2, I messaged my Mom. “Please send me any Bible verses that you feel would encourage him.” I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t tried this yet. I’d prayed for him several times, silently and out loud in front of him, but hadn’t quoted scripture to him. That second night and third morning I did, and although he still lay there struggling with doubt and inner turmoil, a peace came over his face. Oh what a balm the Words of God can be.
If you have a child that’s struggling, here are 10 verses that may be of help. I won’t add anything to these verses. Ask to God speak to you through them as your own situation applies.
1. Hebrews 12:1-3 And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
2. Psalm 139: 13-14 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made
3. Romans 8:26 and 28 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
4. Matthew 11: 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
5. Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”
6. Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
7. Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
8. Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned
9. Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. The flames will not set you ablaze.
10. Psalm 46: 1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
We’re almost a week out of surgery now. The swelling is greatly decreased, and so is his despair. He has a long road of healing ahead, but God has promised never to leave his side. Of this I will remind him frequently.
May the God of peace lift your child up as well.