One day I was experiencing an unusually hard day. I was frustrated with the children who were being more whiny and disobedient than usual. My younger son had decided that biting his older brother's back was a perfectly acceptable way to defend himself. I spent over an hour on the phone with a doctor's office and insurance and still hadn't gotten the issue resolved. I got pulled over for going 5 over the speed limit to a therapy appointment, but thankfully received only a warning and made it to the appointment in time. God's love seemed nonexistent in my life and circumstances and I raged, "Where are you in all of this? Why aren't you helping?" I desperately wanted to be alone with God, but the kiddos needed dinner and attention. And then, bedtime rolled around.
After my older son, about four years old at the time, was all snuggled in bed and we had read his book before bed, we prayed together. Sometimes I did the praying, sometimes I did it fill in the blank style as he could only say one or two-word phrases. I decided to go with the fill-in-the-blank prayer.
Me: "Thank you God for ____." He said his name in response. "Me," I corrected. "And thank you God for _____." "Eesus!" he said with a grin.
I choked back tears as I told him, "Yes, thank you God for Jesus." I've never had any indication that he understood anything relating to God, Jesus or Bible stories, except for identifying "baby Eesus" at Christmas time. I've never prayed before using the words "Thank you God for Jesus." It was his own spontaneous thought and it filled my heart with hope and joy.
We finished our prayers and I kissed that precious little guy goodnight and as I left his room it hit me: God had answered my angry prayers through the mouth of a child who would need years of speech therapy to be able to talk like his peers. I had demanded God tell me where He was and why it felt like He wasn't caring for us. And He gently reminded me that He loved me and my children enough He gave us Jesus.
"God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him." 1 John 4:9
Oh, how amazing, how incredible is that?
And not only that, I realized that the Creator of our universe can relate to our special needs parenting journey in three ways:
After his baptism, Jesus came up out of the water and the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy." (Matthew 3:16-17).
Jesus hadn't yet done a single thing, ministry-wise, and yet God was proud of Him. He called Jesus His beloved Son. He found great joy in Him.
And as parents, we do the same thing. Before we even met our child, we loved them and excitedly prepared for their arrival. When they are born and as they grow and need us to do everything for them, even though they cannot do a single thing for us in return, we love them. No matter how much care they need in their lifetime, we will still love and treasure our child.
God knows what it's like to see your own child suffer and struggle. He watched people not understand His son, watched them mock and test His son. He witnessed His child get beaten and whipped, carry a heavy wooden cross, and then have nails hammered through His wrists and ankles pinning Him to that cross. His son suffered for hours, and I'm sure God longed to take His son off of that cross, to hold Him tight in His arms, and take His beloved, innocent son far away from the cross. Oh, yes thank you God for Jesus!
And so, He understands our pain when we watch our children go through medical procedures. He knows what it's like to watch our children struggle to do things that come so effortlessly to other children. He knows what it is like to long to change the circumstances for our children, but helpless to do so because there is a plan and a reason you can't always see. He fully understands our pain when we see our children not be understood by others or mocked and excluded by others. He knows how much we love our children, and He loves them even more than we do!
But God had a plan, He knew there was a glorious purpose in His child's struggles and suffering. I'm sure that didn't make the pain and helplessness any less for Him though. His love for His son was still as strong as ever, but His love for you and me and for our children kept Him going with the plan.
We may not see the greater plan on this side of eternity. We will see glimpses of it here and there. For example, I see how much stronger God has made me, not just in my faith, but in life, as a mother to two children with special needs. I see how God took my love of writing and gave me a topic and an audience to write about–encouraging other mothers of children with special needs with the things that God is teaching me on this journey. It is knowing that there is a greater plan that brings hope, purpose, and meaning to this special needs parenting journey.
Yes, I think my son was on to something. Thank you God for Jesus!
May we always be reminded of God's unstoppable, never-ending, reckless love not just for his beloved son, Jesus, but for each of us as well. We are all His beloved children.