Sunday, December 8, 2013

How can someone say autism is a blessing?

How can I say that autism is a blessing? This issue does cause tension for some special needs parents. Some say autism is horrible and they wouldn't wish it on anyone, some say not to get therapy and let the child be who they are and yet others say autism is a blessing. People say it so often about hard issues that it sometimes sounds very cliche. You always hear, "You never know what God has planned".

 But that's not why I say autism is a blessing. I say it because I truly believe everything boils down to purpose or the end goal. What's my purpose? What is the end goal for Jacob, our family, our lives? I guess from a typical perspective the end goal should look something like Jacob being able to speak, learn, eventually be in class with his peers, go to college, have a nice job and marry. While all of those things are wonderful, that is not our family's primary end goal. Our end goal is to give glory to God in all that we do and to try to honor God by spreading the Gospel. We are not perfect and we most definitely do not live up to this all the time.  However, our goal is to let God use us in whatever ways He chooses to bring people into a saving relationship with Him. I feel humbled and honored because recently the Lord answered a deep desire of my heart. It's been a while now that I have been praying for God to use our situation as a special needs family and Jacob for His glory. I've prayed for God to use our situation and that if even one person hears about the Lord or comes to Christ through this autism journey it's all worth it. No, it's not fun, it is not easy and I wouldn't wish autism on any child, but if God can use it then I want to be at peace with it fully.  Several weeks ago a woman accepted Christ in a special needs Bible Study that I attend. There are no words to express how amazing it is to see someone accept Christ, especially someone hurting and knowing that their life will change in such profound ways. On that day God not only saved her, but he gave me a gift that I can hardly even think about without crying. He showed me the end goal. Instead of just praying about it and thinking about it God showed me right in that very room that even autism can unite people together where the Gospel can be shared and Christ received. Although she received the greatest gift that day I can't help but to get on my knees and thank the Lord for allowing me to see that. That is exactly why I can say autism is a blessing. It not only opens our eyes to the wonderful gifts that special needs people have and the need  that is out there for these families, but it opens doors to share Christ's love and peace and joy in situations where it is extremely hard to find happiness.  I can honestly say that most special needs parents feel that there is little worse than watching your child suffer or watching your child struggle with things that would normally be very simple and easy for others.  Autism is not what I want for Jacob.  Everything in me wants Jacob to be typical.  Everything in me wants Jacob to be able to easily communicate and be safe physically.  However, my prayer is that I can have a devoted surrender (as my Pastor put it today) of my life to the Lord, even in my desires for my child.  I want to have a heart that is willing to grant permission for the Lord to use my family, even my child, in whatever way brings the Father glory. I don't feel that this means not helping my child in every way that I can, but it does mean having a thankful heart and a heart willing to use Jacob's autism for bringing glory to God.  It means setting my desires for things that are for God.  My priorities often get a little out of whack.  This is my prayer...
"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God."  Colossians 3:1-3

1 Peter 3:14-15 says," 4 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect"

There are so many special needs parents, grandparents and children hurting and lost and without hope and there is an answer for them.  Real joy and hope come from Jesus and Jesus alone.  It doesn't come from anything that I do, it doesn't come from more education or therapy or new skills Jacob learns.  I say autism is a blessing because Jacob and his autism allow me to relate to other parents and show them there is still an immeasurable joy in my heart despite these challenges through Jesus and nothing else.

Jesus declared in Matthew 11:27-30, " 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

We all sin. Romans 3:10-12 says, "10 as it is written:“None is righteous, no, not one;11  no one understands;no one seeks for God.12  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good,not even one.”

Our sin separates us from God, who is perfect and without sin. Romans 6:23 says,"23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

 Jesus' death, burial and resurrection was the perfect sacrifice to reconcile us with the Father and all we have to do is repent (acknowledge our sin, to be sorry and turn away from it) and allow Jesus to be The Lord of our lives and accept this free gift. Romans 5:8 says,"but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 10:9-10 says,"because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved."

Once we accept Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives insides of us and we get to live an eternity in Heaven with God. It's so amazing to know the purpose of life. It's amazing to know the joy that only comes when you are free from the bondage of sin and living with a personal relationship with the creator of the universe. You are no longer dead in your sin, but alive in Christ.

I had to share my journey because I have been so touched to have witnessed it. I am so thankful to God for granting me the gift of seeing someone accept Christ through a special needs ministry. It's not that I didn't believe or think it could happen, it happens anywhere. I'm just so grateful. Praise The Lord from whom all blessings flow. God is so good.

Psalm 34
I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
    for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, O children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 What man is there who desires life
    and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
    and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
    but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
    not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
    and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
    none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.