Finding Purpose In The Pain

Have you ever been heartbroken at the extra pain and the struggles your child is facing? I get it. The doing everything you can for your child. The wanting to be able to do more. The helplessness, the weariness from always pushing, always looking, always being on.

Viktor Frankl survived four concentration camps in the Holocaust and developed his own system of psychotherapy. At the core of his therapy, he felt people were searching for meaning. More than six million Jews died during the Holocaust.  Viktor  believed that those who survived seemed to have a meaning and purpose in their lives. They had some goal that was beckoning them, something they wanted to do, some project they wanted to finish. It may have been as basic as living so others outside the camp would know the atrocities that were happening.


While I don’t agree with Frankl on many things, I do agree that we are searching for meaning.  When we see our children struggling, it creates an incongruity in our hearts as we try to find meaning and purpose in what they are going through.

When we were in the worst of it, I would have struggled to personally share how there was meaning and purpose in this journey of disability that we were going through. I could give the church answer of God is using this to bring glory to Him, through my response and how I treated my family (which is true) but  beyond that, I couldn’t understand what other purpose there could be in this journey.

Last week was our youngest son’s birthday! He turned 12 years old and we had a wonderful day of celebration. We started the day off by going out for breakfast, just he and I. I was able to find a restaurant that served breakfast food that he was able to eat. We talked, we laughed and I reflected.

How could life change so much in twelve years? This persistent, out of the box thinker has completely changed the direction of our family. I still remember rocking him on my chest as he cried and screamed through the night, me trying to give Sarah a break. I remember the joy of finally hearing a few words come from his lips, and the agony of his losing those words later.

I remember relinquishing dreams that I had for him and our family as he grew. I remember how this journey slowly shaped and changed my heart. I grew from thinking I could help people who were struggling because I had been trained to, to having an intimate knowledge of what it means to be helpless and broken. The list of how this young man has changed me could go on and on.

God has already used this young man to accomplish so much, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that God still has much more that He is going to accomplish through him.

Some of you may be in this place trying to figure out the purpose in your child’s pain. As you struggle with the incongruity, remember these truths:

  • God is good (Psalm 145:5-7)

  • God is sovereign (Proverbs 19:21).

  • He personally knows your pain (Psalm 56:8).

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

~ Psalm 139:13 (NLT)

Written by Jonathan McGuire

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Jonathan McGuire  is  the father of two sons and the co-founder of Hope Anew, a nonprofit that comes alongside the parents of children impacted by disability on a spiritual and emotional level. You can follow Hope Anew on Facebook here.