Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Barb's Wire: Children with Disabilities - A Severe Blessing

Barbara Friedman was CCM's free personal evangelist in Moscow and Pullman and was on our staff from 1973 until her retirement last year. Here is one of her old ministry letters:

About two months ago, I met this mother and her blind and autistic son, his younger sister and baby sister. This family had previously been in America and had returned to their homeland. Now they were back in the States for their son’s sake. The schools in their homeland were not equipped for children with disabilities like his. The family knew that in America their son could get the help he needed. America attempts to make it possible for those who are handicapped to live as if they were not.

The mother asked me if God was punishing her because her son was born blind and with autism. Immediately I thought about that Jewish man who was born blind (John’s Gospel, chapter 9): "As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.'" After Jesus miraculously healed this Jewish man, he believed that Jesus was the Messiah, the one God promised to come, and he received eternal life. His blindness from birth, rather than being a curse, was a "severe” blessing. It led to his salvation. The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent (John 6:29).

“No, God is not punishing you," I told her. "Rather, he has given you this son as a very special gift. Though all children are gifts from God, a child with a disability is even more so.”

She looked at me with surprise, disbelief, and “with all ears.” I told her that children born with disabilities are not the norm; they are not common. Therefore, this makes these children special gifts. I expressed that God really intended to bless her and the family when he gave them this son with his handicaps. What many would consider a curse was really meant to be a hard blessing.

Surely children born with disabilities will require special care and treatment, as well as much more love, much more patience, and much more wisdom. I explained that when God entrusts to a family one of these special gifts, He certainly wants to give them all the “much mores” they will need in order to do what is best. Then I compared human love, patience, and wisdom, which have limits, to God’s love, patience, and wisdom, which have no limits. This mother was well aware of her limits, her inadequacies, and shortcomings related to her son and his disabilities. “Your son’s needs have caused you to have needs that will require God's help as well as His comfort. When you believe in God and in Jesus, God will give you all the much more love, patience, and wisdom that you need in order to do what is best for your son and family. And to do it with joy! When you believe, this will be the first blessing your son will bring to the family.” She smiled at me.

At our next meeting, this mother asked, “What exactly is sin?” At our third meeting, she asked, “What really happened when Jesus died on the cross?” She was already in Heaven’s harbor waiting to dock. Well, she got docked! May God use her peace and joy and her new life in Christ to draw her family and others to the living God and the love of God.

Recently she mentioned how others felt so sorry or her because of her son’s situation and the suffering it must bring to the family. She said to me, “But we are not suffering because of our son. We have peace and joy.” I told her to use this as an opportunity to explain how she came to believe in the living God because of her son and how her son really has been a gift from God and a blessing from God.

"Praise be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our trouble...For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows" (2 Cor. 1:3-5). If any of you are in difficulty or having trouble of the kind that seems too much, too big, too awful for you, remember that God gives overflowing comfort. There is no suffering that is too much, to big, or too awful that God’s comfort cannot down. He is “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.”

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