I started my blog a few days ago with this comment: “Every life is precious. Young and old, weak or strong, planned or unplanned.”
It’s true, and I believe every word of it.
But to be perfectly candid, I worry that statements like that get tossed about too easily.
Yes, all life is precious, and we should proclaim that boldly from the rooftops. But the flip side of that boldness is the humility that compels us to roll up our sleeves and come alongside the weak, the elderly, and special needs children and the families who care for them.
James pointedly reminds us that, “Faith without works is dead” (2:16). We have to do more than declare that every life is precious, we have to back it up with action.
As many parents with special needs children will tell you, that can sometimes be a difficult and overwhelming task.
That was the case with Lon and Brenda Solomon. After three healthy children, they had an unexpected pregnancy. When their daughter, Jill, was three months old, they noticed small tremors in her body, which grew increasingly severe as the weeks passed. Their doctor told Lon and Brenda that their newborn was suffering seizures and immediately suggested they see a neurologist.
And so began a long, difficult journey that exhausted them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. They endured countless doctors’ visits and medication after medication, but nothing worked. Things went from bad to worse to worse to worse still. The doctors struggled to find a solution, and it became common for Jill to have up to 10 grand mal seizures a day, every day. Neither Lon nor Brenda slept through the night for a full eight years.
The experience affected their boys, too. Jill required so much care, Lon and Brenda had to alternate their involvement with their sons because only one of them could go to the boys’ ballgames or school activities.
Their connection as a family started to disintegrate, and looming ever before them was a terrible divorce rate among parents of special needs children. Families with children facing these sorts of unique challenges are eighty percent more likely to divorce over and above the already discouraging national average for the typical American couple.
Lon and Brenda’s lives were completely turned upside down. They battled depression, fatigue, even the urge to get in the car and just drive – to anywhere, someplace far away from the never-ending challenges they faced.
Perhaps the biggest challenge they faced was trying to reconcile their love for their daughter and their belief that her life was sacred with their faith and trust in God’s plan in giving them the nearly impossible task of caring for her.
For Brenda that came in one decisive moment. Jill was on the floor having yet another grand mal seizure, and Brenda broke into tears and said, “Lord, she’s Yours. I have nothing left to give. I have nothing emotionally. Physically I can’t do it anymore.”
It was a breaking point, but it was also the moment God stepped into Lon and Brenda’s life in a mighty way they couldn’t have anticipated, and it gave birth to an entire ministry that brings hope and healing to families who care for special needs children.
On our broadcast today, we want to reach out to parents struggling with the ceaseless demands that go with caring for special needs children. Lon and Brenda will be our guests, sharing their story of heartache and hope through a little laughter and a lot of tears. We’ll also talk about practical steps churches can take to come alongside families like theirs who need help.
Many of them are living in a spot where they’re desperate and they feel abandoned by God. Some of you may be in that spot right now. Your daily prayer is, “God, where are You? Why would you allow this to happen to us?”
You’ve done the “Christian recipe.” That is, you’ve lived a good life. You’ve prayed every day and followed the Lord, but the recipe hasn’t worked. You’re not getting the end product that you thought doing all the right things would earn for you.
If you’re in that spot or if you know someone in your family or circle of friends who are in that spot, I think today’s program is going to be especially meaningful for you.
Lon Solomon is the senior pastor at McLean Bible Church in Virginia. He and Brenda are the founders of a special needs ministry center called Jill’s House.
I hope you’ll join us on your local radio station. Or tune in anytime online or via our free, downloadable mobile phone app.
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