Thursday, March 1, 2018

Hope in the “secret world of autism”

This week I watched a video that went viral of an autism Mom sharing about what so many of us feel. The “secret world of autism” is extraordinarily difficult for me at times. So much of what she said spoke straight to my heart. But, there was one thing she mentioned that really struck me. She said that at some point she let her guard down enough to actually pray, but that praying to God does nothing.  It was heartbreaking to hear her say that and even more heartbreaking to see people within the autism community sharing her post and some saying they felt the same. 11 million views later and all that I can think of is how badly I want them to know the truth.  I want them to know that God is faithful even through autism.  

So many people turn to God after their child is diagnosed or when their child’s behavior has gotten so severe that “you realize it’s the last time your life will ever be normal” as the lady explained. 

Our family hit that point last weekend on a trip out town. We realized that short “easy” road trips or our kids basketball games or eating out were never going to be easy again. Through the screams and kicks and panicking, my husband and I looked at each other and without words we both was never going to be “normal”.  

But the problem with only turning to God at that point is that sometimes we treat God as if He exists for us and not the other way around.  We pray as if, in our time of need, God is waiting to perform miracles and tasks for us like a genie in the sky.  Don’t get me wrong, he absolutely does want to hear from us.  He does want us to come to Him in our desperation, but not just to make our lives perfect or easier.  First, we need a relationship with Him and then we come to Him because He alone can sustain us.   When we seek God solely to fix our problems, we will always end up disappointed.  We must trust God with our lives first, but that doesn’t mean to stop praying for our children.  He can work miracles. He does answer prayers, but sometimes the answer is no. Either way, as His child He WILL work all things for our good and His glory.  We trust Him because we know that God is good and has the bigger picture in mind.

The video made me see that so many people  are needing hope and truth and compassion.  

I know from experience that Autism parents love sharing their journey and their struggles, not for pity, but for a single moment of understanding from others or just to know that people care. Living in such difficult circumstances isolates you from the world.  Knowing that someone cares can be such an encouragement. As Christians, I pray we become intentional about reaching out to families that are extremely isolated, sometimes even  without a church home that can minister to their special needs children. I pray more churches begin ministries that are open to individuals with disabilities.

Most of all, I want Autism families to know that the hope God has to offer and the joy you can have in Christ far exceeds the difficulty of your circumstances. Our hope is in the eternal future with Him in perfect peace not our temporary situation. 
We are cut off from God because of our sin.  God is holy and perfect and we are not. Because of this, we cannot be in right relationship with him.  The Bible says the punishment for our sin is death and eternal separation from God. But God sent his son, Jesus, to live a perfect life, die on the cross, and rise again to pay the punishment for our sin on our behalf.  If you believe this and you surrender your life to Jesus, you can be reconciled with God in this life and for eternity. The peace of being made right with God never leaves you. The hope of eternity with God and his faithfulness is more than enough to carry you through this life and all the trials it brings. Our family will always look different from the “normal”.  We may always be dealing with extreme tantrums, lack of speech, bouts of obsessive spinning and rocking and slamming doors. We experience the stress of elopement and of not knowing how to help him when he is having anxiety in public and we have felt the burden of extreme financial strain due to therapy. Nevertheless, we still have joy and we still have peace. The stressors that are inevitable with autism don’t hold us captive.  Each day we find joy and humor and we start again fresh knowing that God is in control and this is only temporary. 

So I encourage you to surrender your life to Jesus.  Only the Lord can give you a peace that surpasses all understanding. A peace that surpasses the stress of autism.