Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. ~ James 1;17
We live in a world laced with problems. There is pain and suffering on every front. Loved ones are dying from cancer. Motor vehicle accidents claim the lives of many. Earth quakes ravage lands and people’s lives. Children are diagnosed with Autism at an alarming rate. Mothers abandon their precious vulnerable babies in a sin filled world. Child slavery runs rampant. Babies are born with Spina Bifida, Downs Syndrome, and the list goes on and on.
And yet, God is still on His throne.
Why? We ask ourselves. We search for understanding, and I am afraid we credit a perfect loving God with things that He does not own.
I awoke this morning with a heavy heart. I have read many blog posts by mothers of children with special needs who, in an attempt to make sense of the sadness in their lives, to defend their precious children, or in an effort to be politically correct, have chosen to celebrate their child’s disability, to claim that their precious children are perfect and just as God would want.
I spoke with a doctor a few weeks ago whose child has Asperger’s Syndrome. She made a statement that has been ruminating in my mind ever since. “If I could take away my child’s Asperger’s, I wouldn’t do it. He is a blessing to us just the way he is. Perfect.”
He is, indeed, a blessing. Worthwhile. Gifted. Loved. Created by a loving God, and made in His image. But, perfect?
Who among us is perfect?
Asperger’s Syndrome can be a mixed bag of blessings. Asperger’s is characterized with areas of extreme giftedness and brilliance. It is believed that Albert Einstein had Asperger’s. Bill Gates is believed to have Asperger’s Syndrome.
But Asperger’s is on the Autistic spectrum. Many people with Asperger’s struggle mightily with sensory issues, organizing and prioritizing their lives. They often struggle with relationships, and have significant difficulty with depression because of an impairment in the executive function of the brain.
Are we to credit God for those weaknesses?
God is the author of all good things. He created a utopia called the Garden of Eden for His creation in which there was no illness, pain, or heartbreak. Food was plentiful. Life was good. All of humanity fell in the garden when man chose to disobey God.
Many parents have told me they have struggled with this verse.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139;13
Did God knit your baby together in your womb? Yes! Absolutely. But things aren’t perfect this side of Heaven, not even your precious child. Even your dear, gifted, blessing needs a redeemer, spiritually and physically. We can love our children and recognize their value as God’s beloved creation, and still recognize their need for God and His redemption in their lives.
We live in a fallen world. Satan is not in Hell yet. Sin runs rampant, and Satan prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. ~ 1 Peter 4:8
God does not want your child to go through life with a brain that fails to function at its best. He does not want you to struggle through life with a body that falls short.
When I was eleven, I was diagnosed with a muscle disease that kept me from living a normal life. It was hard. I begged God to take it away. It hurt. I cried. And God cried with me.
He found no pleasure in my suffering, but He did allow it.
The lot is cast into the lap, but it’s every decision is from the Lord. ~ Proverbs 16;33
Many of you know the story of Job. He suffered great things. He questioned God. In the beginning of the book of Job, we are given a very telling picture of our Heavenly Father and Satan. Satan claimed that Job would turn against God if all that he had was taken away.
1 On another day the angels[a] came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. 2And the LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
3 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”
4 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
6 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”
7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. ~ Job 2;1-7
Why? Why did God allow such horrific suffering? He did not inflict Job with suffering, but clearly, He allowed it.
I don’t know for sure.
29a The secret things belong to the LORD our God,… ~Deuteronomy 29;29
But I do know this. God promises to work all things together for our good. (Rom 8;28) He uses the circumstances of our lives to draw us to Him. It’s not during life’s mountain top experiences that we realize our great need for God. We don’t learn to trust Him, or come to recognize His incredible grace when things are going just as we think they should.
It’s in the valleys of our lives that we grow to really know God. He came to redeem the broken, the hurting, the lost. He can turn the most painful circumstance into something absolutely beautiful.
I know, because He has done that for me. He took the most painful thing in my life and made it good. He filled my heart with thankfulness and joy. I don’t long any more for those carefree days of childhood that I was never to know. I long only for my Savior and to do the will of Him who sent me.
And somehow, miraculously, I am thankful for those days of great pain and loss in my life. Had I not walked that lonely and painful road, I may never have known with such clarity and conviction my great need for God. I may never have known Him at all.
There are two forces at work in this world today. God and Satan. Good and Evil. Our broken lives are evidence of that.
This isn’t all there is. There is a world beyond the natural that is more real than all that is tangible in our lives. There is One who is waiting to take our brokenness, our heartbreaks, and our deepest disappointments and turn them into something extraordinary.
There is a redeemer waiting to redeem the brokenness of our lives.