A Promise for Moms Watching A Child Suffer

Over the years, lots of stories have been written about my journey into blindness. After a particular magazine interview, I dialed the phone. “Mom, I just finished an interview and I really think the writer is going to do a good job. I think you will like the article.” I continued, “And, Mom, she asked if she could interview you. She only has a few questions and I wondered if you could?”


My mom hesitated. Her response taught me so much about God’s grace.

“Honey, I just can’t. It’s too hard… to that writer, your blindness is a story. To me, as your mom, your blindness is a wound that still hurts.”

When my mom spoke those painful words, I had been blind almost 30 years. It still hurt because it’s hard to watch someone you love carry a burden.

Do you know how she felt? Are you, too, watching a child suffer? Is there someone in your life who you watch struggle and wish you could fix it or pray it away? Is God’s grace really sufficient when you feel the weight of such a heavy burden for someone you love?

Participant Grace

Because I was granted the burden of blindness, I was also granted the grace to carry it. God reassured the Apostle Paul that His grace was sufficient. I can testify that it is true—God’s grace has been sufficient for me. When we ask God to remove a burden and He does not, He gives adequate grace to bear the burden.

In 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, Paul says “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Participant grace is the grace God gives to the one who has to carry a burden.
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I like to think of the grace God gave me as “participant grace”. Now, don’t go looking that up in the Bible. You won’t find it. But, I think if Paul could read this he may just revise his second letter to the Corinthians and include it! Ha! (Big goofy grin here.)

Participant grace is the grace God gives to the one who has to participate with the burden— carry it.

The child you love who struggles has participant grace. The aging parent for whom you cry tears of loss has participant grace. The friend who is fighting cancer has participant grace. It’s the grace God gives each one who carries a difficult burden. And, it is sufficient.

Spectator Grace

My mom, and you, as you watch someone you love struggle, doesn’t have “participant” grace. I think God grants the special person who has to watch, love and pray “Spectator Grace”. It’s just enough grace to watch. But, I think it must feel very different from participant grace.

May I please be a voice to you if you are carrying spectator grace and you’re not quite sure it is sufficient?

The burden you feel for your loved one is far heavier than the burden your loved one actually caries.
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The burden you feel for your loved one is far heavier than the burden your loved one actually carries. God’s grace is sufficient for me to be blind. I know it; I feel it because I am the participant. If your loved one has trusted Christ, then He also has granted them the grace to bear their heavy burden. Trust that truth for the one you love. Guard yourself from falling into despair or fear because you just “can’t imagine” how your loved one will make it. They will make it because of participant grace. You my dear friend, only have spectator grace as you watch. What you feel “for” that loved one is far heavier than what they feel for themselves because God’s grace absorbs much of the sting.

A Promise for Moms Watching a Child Suffer
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Don’t assign the heartache or despair you feel for that loved one to that loved one.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

Peace to you my friend.

If you’re in a season of watching someone you love suffer, I explore spectator grace more fully in my book, God is Just Not Fair.

Question: What burdens do you carry alongside those you love?

Go deeper into this week's question in my Bible Study Bistro Facebook group. There's a community of 4:13ers waiting for you!