For years I struggled with the question of why God would allow disabilities of all kinds or injuries. We know the general answers: he sometimes uses adversity to get our attention or to deal with sin. I was unsatisfied that there was a connection to disabilities with those answers. Eventually, I found John 9:
"As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. "Teacher" his disciples asked him, "why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?"
"It was not because of his sins or his parents' sins," Jesus answered. "He was born blind so the power of God could be seen in him. All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is so little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end. John 9:1-4 NLT
At first, I interpreted the story that the man was born blind so that Jesus could heal him. That being the case why wasn' the Lord healing Billy Ray and other disabled persons I know?
While reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, I began to think AGAIN about why the Lord would allow our children to suffer so. Is there any purpose for Billy Ray's life that is so full of struggling for him and for us?
I reread the quoted verses in John 9. I asked the Lord if the man was blind so that God could be glorified not because of his sin what was the reason for the long-term suffering of our complex children.
The many books written on the topic of how we are changed by knowing disabled children came to mind. To be honest, I have not always been positive about those type of books because I felt they missed the point of what the children need. In an early draft of the Introduction to my book I wrote as the first line "There are many books about how disabled children impact their world and change those around them for the better." I went on to make it clear this book was not about that. I rebelled at the idea that changing others was important when these children suffered so. Searching these questions has changed my thinking.
Our children do have major impacts on the lives of those who take the time know them. That is a nice thing but the question of why would God allows these precious ones to suffer remained. If God uses adversity or affliction to get the attention and to deal with sin but these children have not sinned what is the purpose?
As I watch Billy Ray suffer I sometimes wonder how God could stand watching his son, Jesus suffer such torture for us. He did that to bring us to Him. Our children change people for the better and draw others to the Lord in ways no one else can accomplish. That is a powerful purpose.
Over the past couple of years I have had multiple discussions with theologians I respect. Not one agreed that John 9:3 would apply to children with special needs. Most felt it was more a Romans 8:28 thing that all things work together for good and that God uses it. Eventually I came to accept that it really didn’t matter which scripture applied these children are used to bring glory to the Heavenly Father.
Len Bynum, a man in the church we attended when we adopted Billy Ray helped with Billy Ray so I could continue teaching my Sunday School class or be in worship service. He wrote a poem for Billy Ray one day. I typed it out and have kept it in the corner of one of Billy Ray=s pictures all these years. Here it is:
"It gives my heart special joy,
To know God loves this little boy.
Billy Ray B God works through you,
I see your smile and it makes me know
That God will help us both to grow!"
Billy Ray and I were sitting near the Henrys at a recent church potluck. Lori Henry and I were talking about these scriptures to explain disabilities and suffering. I shared that I believed John 9:3 pertained and others disagreed. She said they should read Josh's Testimony, their blog about her son Josh's recent struggle with a brain tumor. As a result of sharing with others many have been brought to the Lord. I have written about the witness this has to folks who have never thought about going inside a church in Being Loved by the Real Church. I know that not all Christians are as supportive as our church has been but when they are the world sees Christ in action.
The Lord has not failed to give our kids a mighty purpose no matter what their disability might be.
Until next time,
Peggy Lou Morgan
Blogs: Amazon Author Connect, Parenting a Complex Special Needs Child and Parenting A Complex Special Needs Adult
Websites: Parenting Your Complex Child and Lighthouse Parents
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Parenting Your Complex Child Yahoo Group