On another website I mentioned the fact that one of my sons has a unicameral cyst in his upper leg (basically a golf ball sized puss filled bubble) which eventually broke his leg completely (on two different occasions when he was about 8) and that my other son was diagnosed at age 6 or 7 with Asperger’s Syndrom (a form of autism) and PPD (pervasive developmental disorder). I recently received an email from another dad whose son has some leg and knee deformities, as well as a bladder condition. Needless to say he is pretty stressed out, discouraged, and ready to just chuck it all. I can’t say as I blame him. He emailed me asking, “How do you and your wife handle the stuff with you sons?” Here is my answer for you, my bruthu from anuthu muthu, and for anyone else who may be experiencing the same kinds of things; faith.
Allow me to go back in time to when all of this was going down for me/us. Keep in mind that these are two totally different kinds of problems with our kids. Will one son ever be able to run again? Will the other be able to get married? Will one son be able to ride a bike? Will the other ever be able to to get a job? With the leg son, it was devastating. With the autism son, it was kind of a relief because we finally knew what was “wrong” with him and what to do about it. At the time, God had orchestrated our lives in such a way that we were in perhaps the best place in the country to receive medical care and treatment for both of these things. While that was a blessing, comfort was another issue. I can remember with my leg son thinking of Peter and John in Acts 3 when they walked up to the crippled man and said, “We don’t have any money, but what we do have we give to you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” I wanted to walk over to my son as he was in his one and one-half hip spica cast, grab him by the hand and say the same thing as Peter. But if I had, and nothing happened, what would that have done to his young faith? Was I wanting to do that out of fatherly desperation? Was it God giving me the faith to do it? I don’t think so because I wasn’t filled with faith, I was filled with fear.
As I said with my autism son, the diagnosis was kind of a relief. At the same time, we realized that it was a life-ling thing. We have home schooled since practically day one, so issues with the school system were, well, non-issues. Certain behaviors that were chalked up to immaturity, ADD, and food allergies were actually autistic tendencies. We thought autism was Rain Man. Not so. Well, not exclusively so. There are therapies, there are social skills groups, there are diets that actually do work to help with the condition. But he will always be a little, off. He will always be obsessive about some things, certain sensory things will always bother him, its just a matter of him learning how to control how he deals with these things as he gets older. It can be embarrassing for his parents and awkward for him.
But what about mom and dad? How do mom and dad deal with all of this? As I said, faith. Trusting that God is in control. Reminding themselves that if God is God, and if God has a plan, then nothing ever goes wrong with it. Ever. Winning the lottery (which hasn’t happened, you have to play to win), broken legs, flat tires, autism, promotions, getting fired, children being born, children dying, all of it is part of God’s plan, and if God has a plan then nothing ever goes wrong with it. Ever. Understanding that helps to a point.
We live in a fallen world because of sin. Not so much the sinful choices of people but sin itself. Part of that fallen-ness is a curse on basically everything. Disease, death, suffering are all apart of that curse. Sickness, genetic mutation (there is only a bad kind of mutation), biological imperfections (large or small) are all the result of the fallen state of the world in which we live. The biological anomaly in my son’s femur that led to the development of this cyst that no one knew about until he was simply skipping and it decided to break, that was/is the result of the curse. The biochemical anomaly, whether it was a genetic abnormality from conception or the result of a reaction from exposure to other chemicals post-birth, which led to the development of my son’s Apserger’s Syndrome and PDD, that was/is the result of the curse. Understanding that helps to a point.
The temptation we all experience when things like this happen is to ask God, “Why?” It’s interesting to note that few people ask God, “Why?” when their kid is a genius or an all-star athlete. It’s only when these kinds of things happen. Something I realized as I was asking God, “Why?” is this; I expected an answer. If that answer wasn’t good enough for me, then God didn’t pass my test or meet my standard. Asking the “why” question puts one in the position of judge over God. That is not where we belong because it is the other way around. God is judge over us. Consider this; if God did show up and answer you, if He showed you the future and what the implications of this were going to be, if He said, “I’m going to use this to save 1,000 people,” would you give Him the thumbs-up and say, “OK, God, I guess that works. Go ahead. Break my son’s leg, twice, and make the other one autistic while you’re at it.”? Not so easy to answer.
In the book of Genesis, God does just that. He shows up to Joseph in two separate dreams. God tells Joseph, before his life turns to crap, that he is going to be a great ruler one day. Then Joseph is almost murdered by his brothers, he is sold as a slave by his brothers, he rises to the position of chief of servants in a rich man’s house, he is falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison where he is forgotten about for years, until one day he is made into a great ruler and saves an entire empire. The whole time it says that the Lord was with him. Joseph, even in the midst of his suffering, had a right perspective of God.
In Acts 27-28 Paul is on his way to appeal to Caesar as a prisoner of Rome. Jesus Himself told Paul he was going to make it to Rome. His boat almost sinks a few times, it ends up crashing into some rocks by an island, he has to swim to shore in cold sea water, then he gets bitten by a poisonous snake. During all of this he did get discouraged until an angel showed up and encouraged him and remind him of God’s promise. Paul had a right perspective of God, with a little help.
Having a right perspective of God, in and through all things, will keep us humble when things are good, it will keep us encouraged when things are in the toilet, it will keep us from flipping out in the flesh when we want to flip out in the flesh.
When we are going through it, when it seems unbearable, when we want to chuck it all, when we want to stop serving and just are trying to make it through each day one day at a time, we need to be mindful of our perspective. Where is our focus? Are we focused on what we think is the lack-of-soverignty of God? Are we focused on what we think is an injustice and ask the “why” question? Or is our focus, our perspective, our eyes, our faith, our trust, in God? God is in control, even in this fallen world. We can’t see the end from the beginning, but He can. Sometimes faith is a choice. Most of the time faith is a choice. Let’s just make it simple; faith is a choice. And like Jr. Asparagus says, “God’s way is the best way, and that’s the way for me.”
It’s like we are a passenger in a car and God is the driver. (God is an excellent driver.) Except, the only window we can see out of is the back window. We don’t know where we are going, we only know where we’ve been, and we have to trust God that He knows where He is going. After all, He made the car that is riding on the road, He made the Earth the road is sitting on, and He made the universe the Earth is spinning through. (That’s the Book of Job ala Corby.) I have a hunch He knows what He’s doing and where you and I are going.
While this may not be an instant hurt cure, hopefully it will give you something to chew on. Don’t compare your level of hurt to Bible heroes. Don’t think, “Man, Paul had it really bad, I should stop whining,” or “Man, Paul had it easy, I’m hurting way more than he ever did.” Just put yourself in their situations. Some of them were delivered through their hurt as they trusted God. Some weren’t. But none of it changed God’s love and purposes toward them. None of this changes God’s love toward you or those who are hurting, nor does it change His purposes for you and them. You have a choice as to your perspective. You have a choice as to how you are going to see the circumstances you face. Which one is it going to be; yours, or God’s?