I was praying the other day, considering what to tell a friend who was having a hard time in her new journey with autism, and a thought hit me. What if God told me that if I wanted, he would heal Jacob right now so that he could for sure live independently and have a family and children, but if he didn't heal Jacob's autism then God could be glorified in a greater way somehow. How would I respond?
Is God's glory the inner most desire of my heart? I cannot honestly say that it ALWAYS is. I hurt, no I ache for Jacob sometimes and I am often praying for healing over other things.
It is very hard to think of what to say to a mom with a newly diagnosed child. The problem is that I don't have great answers. I can't tell someone why their child is autistic or how to handle it or think about it. There will be times of great difficulties physically, financially ,and emotionally, more often than I'd like to admit. All I can say is that we have a decision when we get this diagnosis and a decision everyday thereafter. Will we trust in the sovereignty of God or not? Will I humble myself before God today and give it to Him? Will I let Him do in our family whatever brings HIM the most glory? It's a daily decision, not only for my child with autism, but in my whole life. Will I give in to fear, sadness, or defeat, or will I give it all to God and trust him?
I began looking for examples in the Bible of people with disabilities as a start to even trying to comprehend what God would have me say. I am often so confused about the situation myself.
John 9:2-12English Standard Version (ESV)
2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
Mark 7:32-37English Standard Version (ESV)
32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus[a] charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
What I found was number of instances where Jesus healed people from blindness, lameness, deafness, etc. Why did this happen? It reveals that God, in His wisdom, can allow things to happen in order to show His mercy or power or He can use our suffering for God to be glorified or to demonstrate our desperate need for a savior. I know that I cannot see the entire picture or purpose that God has laid out for my family, and I am so happy that I can't and that God is bigger, wiser, and more just than I could ever dream.
2 Corinthians 12:9English Standard Version (ESV)
9 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
I then went on to read again about Job and another thing the Lord reminded me of was that we may never know why we are suffering. We only see a fraction of what God sees in this big picture. This is encouraging to us to remain faithful, hopeful, and obedient to God amidst trials.
No God isn't asking me whether or not to heal Jacob right now, but I want to know in my heart that I would always choose glorifying God first.
How can that apply to my life now? When I get down and sad, which I will, I have to re-commit and re-submit to God instead of to defeat. This is something that I probably have to do daily in regards to Jacob. I need to stay in God's word and not let myself stay down and turn my focus upward. Also, God has placed our family in this situation, how can it be used for him? I have to pray for guidance so that God can use autism, or whatever He wants, in a way that can glorify himself. Do I trust God in this?
This isn't word for word, but my Pastor said today to organize all things according to Christ and it will lead to peace and security.
I understand that God is not a magical genie waiting to make me rich and heal Jacob, although he could. What I know is that if the deepest desires of my heart are to bring glory to God, then my life will have real joy and peace despite circumstances. God will be the source of that joy.
So I can't tell you why our kids have autism. I can't tell you why they have struggles that no parent would want for their child. I can't give you the magic therapies or treatments to help every child. But what I do know is this:
Romans 5:2-5English Standard Version (ESV)
2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith[a] into this grace in which we stand, and we[b] rejoice[c] in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Matthew 6:30-34English Standard Version (ESV)
30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:4-7 ESV)
(Philippians 4:4-7 ESV)