A parent’s worst nightmare is seeing their child suffer, especially if they can’t do anything to help them. Such is the case of parents whose child is diagnosed with a terminal illness. In that scenario, parents could only wish that they were the ones who got sick instead. But God works in mysterious ways, so they must strive to stay faithful and understand that their child is suffering for a reason.
But staying faithful can also feel impossible in such a difficult time. A child has barely lived their life, and it’s already being taken away from them. As much as their parents want to be strong for them, they may fall apart easily, especially if their child is in extreme pain.
Approximately 500,000 children in the U.S. suffer from terminal illnesses every year; 10% of them pass away annually. Hospice or quality home healthcare helps sick children manage their symptoms, improve their quality of life, and reduce their parents’ stress and costs. This can motivate parents and children to hold on to their faith and believe that God is in control. However, the whole experience won’t be easy, and parents and children can falter many times.
What the Bible Says About Terminal Illnesses
If you have a Christian faith, reading the Holy Bible can help you strengthen your spirituality. There are several passages about diseases that can explain why they exist in the first place. One of them is Genesis 3, which says that illness and diseases result from the Fall (when the serpent tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit). Romans 5:12 says that because sin exists in our world, then so do death and decay. But most importantly, you must know that getting terminally ill isn’t the sufferer’s fault.
Neither the child nor the parent should be blamed for the terminal illness. Many people believe that an illness is a punishment from God, but that’s rarely the case. Jesus Himself has made that clear in John 9:1 – 7, with the man that has been born blind. But even if you or your child had a role in the terminal illness, you will not be punished. Jesus will sympathize with you and be with you throughout the ordeal.
Believe that God isn’t inflicting you this pain because you have sinned. There can be many reasons children develop a terminal disease, such as lifestyle factors, a family history, or a health issue they’ve been born with. That said, trust your child’s doctors as they treat the disease, but pray for your child’s healing still. You can also ask for prayers from your relatives, friends, and peers. Even if the illness is clearly life-limiting, your strong faith might work miracles or at least put you in a better position mentally if the worst happens.
Find Great Opportunities in this Difficult Time
When a child develops a terminal illness, the whole family suffers the impact. Sometimes, this results in parents drifting apart from each other. And we couldn’t judge them because a terminal illness drains one’s savings, disrupts their usual routine, and turns their life upside down. Not all couples are strong enough to stay in a relationship with too many hardships, so they part ways and see it as the best decision for both of them and the whole family.
But separating from your co-parent is another source of distress during this time. When a child’s life may be cut short, they’ll be looking for both their parents’ support and encouragement. If only one parent is available, they may lose hope and feel that the separation is their fault. So instead of seeing the illness as a threat to the relationship, parents should try finding great opportunities in it to become closer.
For example, if the child has cancer, the parents may shave their heads to show camaraderie to their child who has lost their hair to their treatment. If it’s another illness, like something that decreases their mobility, you can take your child on nature trips or have them join a support group so that they’ll realize that they’re not alone.
And, of course, lead your child to Christ by example. Pray together and read them the Holy Bible every day. Let them know that God promises to be with them, even if they’re ill. And even if it’s heartbreaking, try to talk about death and why it’s not something to be feared. Tell them the story of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Through prayer and reflection, your child can understand that a short life isn’t a punishment but an experience that can teach them a lesson. Your faith will get you through this challenging time, believing that the illness is just a profound chapter in your life and not a payment for sin.