Parenting a child with special needs has many blessings attached but can also leave you feeling exhausted, depleted, anxious, and very much alone. In this article, autism mom Vicki Bentley shares 50 encouraging Bible verses for special needs parents that have ministered to her heart as she parents her daughter, and reminded her of the God who equips and strengthens her for this hard and holy work.
Being a mother is learning about the strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.” Linda Wooten
I heard this quote often when I first became a mom. Initially I appreciated its sentiment, yet it was only when I entered the world of special needs parenting that it took on a whole new level of meaning. My daughter was formally diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of 4.
By that time I was already familiar with the range of emotions and challenges associated with parenting a child who the world did not consider ‘typical’ . From managing sleep and food issues, to worrying about her development and behavior, to advocating tirelessly on her behalf to get the early support and intervention I knew she needed—parenting my child often felt like climbing a mountain. It was an overwhelming assignment I certainly did not feel equipped for.
In Need of God’s Help
Almost three years later and my loving, hilarious, passionate, wildly-imaginative daughter is now thriving in first grade. Yet the unique challenges, worries, and fears I have experienced as a mom to a child with special needs haven’t gone away; they have only evolved. I would not change her for the world, and I thank God for the blessing she is and the joy she brings to our family. But I cannot deny there are still days when I feel depleted, frustrated, and anxious about the road ahead.
Your journey as the mom of a special needs child may be similar to mine or differ completely. After all, our parenting experiences are just as unique and wide ranging as are the children under our care. Yet as I have sought God’s help and wisdom, repeatedly laid my fears at His feet, and surrendered this marvelous child to her Creator and His divinely-appointed purposes and plans; I have gathered some verses along the way that have comforted me, encouraged me, strengthened me, and brought me peace. My hope is that these Scriptures will minister to your heart too. I pray they would remind you that God equips you and holds you fast in the midst of this hard and holy calling.
CELEBRATING THEIR UNIQUENESS
1. “For you created my innermost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:13-14, NIV).
2. “‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart’” (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV).
3. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV).
4. “Each of us finds our meaning and function as part of his body…So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t” (Romans 12:4-6, The Message Paraphrase).
5. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him” (Genesis 1:27, emphasis mine).
TRUSTING IN GOD’S PLAN FOR THEM
6. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
7. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
8. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
9. “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
10. “And in Your book were written All the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them” (Psalm 139:16, NASB).
WHEN YOU FEEL EXHAUSTED
11. “‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light’” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV).
12. “The Lord replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest’” (Exodus 33:14, NIV).
13. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak…But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; and they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31, NIV).
14. “‘I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint’” (Jeremiah 31:25, NIV).
15. “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).
WHEN YOU FEEL ANXIOUS
16. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV).
17. “Humble yourself, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7, NIV).
18. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27, NIV).
19. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever; for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock” (Isaiah 26:3-4).
20. “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all” (2 Thessalonians 3:16).
WHEN IT’S HARD TO KEEP GOING
21. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, NIV).
22. “I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; and I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace]” (Philippians 4:13, AMP).
23. “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” (Lamentations 3:22-24).
24. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-4, NLT).
25. “Let us throw off anything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV).
WHEN YOU FEEL LONELY
26. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17, NIV).
27. “For I hold you by your right hand— I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.” (Isaiah 41:13, NLT).
28. “I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20, AMP).
29. “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, nor angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38, NLT).
30. “Yet Jerusalem says, ‘The LORD has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.’ Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Or can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:14-16, NLT).
WHEN LIFE DOESN’T SEEM FAIR
31. “I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11, NIV).
32. “‘Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world’” (John 16:33, NLT).
33. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
34. “‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good’” (Genesis 50:19, NLT).
35. “Then Job replied to the LORD: ‘I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, “Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?” Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know’” (Job 42:1-3, NIV).
WHEN PEOPLE ARE UNKIND
36. “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord. Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads’” (Romans 12:19-20, NLT).
37. “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
38. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
39. “For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. Christ never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. Christ left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly” (1 Peter 2:21-23, NLT).
40. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV).
THE BENEFITS OF FINDING A SUPPORT NETWORK
41. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NIV).
42. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, NIV).
43. “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up” (Proverbs 12:25, NIV).
44. “Just as iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other” (Proverbs 27:17, CEV).
45. “Though good advice lies deep within the heart, a person with understanding will draw it out” (Proverbs 20:5, NLT).
SEEKING JOY IN THE LORD
46. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12, NIV).
47. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
48. “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).
49. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).
50. “We put our hope in the LORD. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD, for our hope is in you alone” (Psalm 33:20-22, NLT).
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Beautifully said, dear Vicki. I can’t imagine all the additional challenges – parenting is herculean enough as it is. Yet, your example of leaning into God’s truths and character is a blessed model to follow. Thanks so much.