When Your Child Has a Mountain to Climb


At this time one year ago, our son was stressed and sad. The physical and emotional effects of his foster care and adoption history were taking their toll. Childhood trauma placed him at the foot of a dark, high mountain that he never chose to climb. School performance and behavior suffered, tough questions stole his sleep, and playful laughter gave way to anxiety and tears. In all this, we decided to bring him home from school for a semester — giving ourselves several months to hold him close and dial down the anxiety and frustration he felt every day in the classroom.

Since then he’s found a place of belonging in a new school. Informed, accurate diagnoses give us the “why’s” we were lacking before. He now has a team of support wrapped around him, ready to help him heal and move forward.

Yet as grateful as I feel to find the professional care and encouragement he needs, I find myself unsettled. Worried. Helpless. A little angry, even. No one can make the trek up the mountain to wholeness for him. As much as we can load his pack with gear and cheer him on along the path, it’s his journey alone.

So like all of us who claim belief in a good and loving God, our faith runs smack into the reality of pain and the “not fair!” of life in this broken world. Is anything less fair than beautiful, innocent kids hurting and struggling by no fault of their own?

We’re not unique in this since every child and family [go] through hard things. Our friends were blindsided before the holidays by their son’s medical test results — the what-ifs could bend them to the ground. Another’s daughter gave up dreams and plans, forced home by her own health battles. Still, another stands by as their child seems determined to self-destruct through stubbornness and foolish choices. Each parent gave their all. They prayed. They loved, blessed, and encouraged. Each sought help from every angle. And yet, their sons’ and daughters’ visions of the future are altered beyond recognition.

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At the base of whatever mountain my child or yours must climb, we have two choices:

We can fight to take control on the outside while sinking into despair on the inside, or we can hold on to what we believe is true:

God knows. (Psalm 139:1-6)

The One who made the universe made my child, too. (Psalm 139:13-16)

No struggle is wasted. (James 1:2-4, 12)

Each of us is fully loved. (Romans 8:35-39)

Emotions are unreliable and change every day. As we reach for support, we find opinions vary. The learning curve is steep to understand strategies and treatment options. There’s no such thing as a quick fix. No amount of perfect is enough — a flawless environment and perfectly nurturing parents and professionals can’t restore what’s been lost or broken.

So what can be done? We consistently take our son back to God in prayer. It’s no coincidence our son’s middle name is Isaac. Just as Abraham had to trust God enough to give up his Isaac (Genesis 22), we are called to place our son in God’s hands. As he climbs his mountain, we’ll know God more deeply as Healer. Deliverer. Provider. Comforter. Father. He’ll prove he’s the promise-keeper who fulfills His Word to stay close and finish the work He’s started in our son’s life.

I don’t know what your son or daughter is facing today. Or what they’ve already overcome or what’s coming over the horizon. Maybe they’re heartsick and depressed. Lonely or rejected. Angry and rebellious. Sick and tired. Failing or floundering. As parents, we have wisdom and help to offer our kids, but their needs outweigh all we can give.

Together, let’s hold on to hope. God loves our kids and he’s promised to answer when we cry out to him. He’ll carry the weight on His shoulders to ease our burden and set us free to find joy and peace through it all. Let’s pray and invite God to carry us — and our children — all the way home.


Our children’s road is rough and steep. We’re discouraged and afraid, wondering how they’ll make it through. In the struggle they need your compassion and help.

Heal what’s wounded in our children’s bodies and minds. Capture their hearts so they love you and live by your Word. Set them free from lies they believe and any sin grabbing hold of their lives. Take them in your arms as their loving Father, giving them all they need to be well and whole.

We want to trust you completely with our kids. Lord, we know each of them is a gift from your hand. As their Creator you know every intricate detail of who they are. We believe your power and goodness are enough for whatever they face. Show us, Lord, how wide and high and long and deep your love truly is. (Ephesians 3:18)


Joanna Teigen
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Joanna Teigen and her husband Rob have shared over 25 years of marriage and life with five kids, plus a lovely daughter-in-law. They’re a neat-freak married to a mess, an explorer to a homebody, and an introvert to a “people person.” But they agree their vows are for always, children are a gift, and prayer is powerful. Joanna is the co-author of A Mom’s Prayers for Her Son, Mr. & Mrs.: 366 Devotions for Couples, and a variety of other resources for couples and parents. She looks forward to meeting you at