I shared this testimony at church on Sunday and wanted to post it here because it's part of the journey:
I find myself at peace with the developmental delays and the intellectual disabilities that Simeon will face; but, I also find myself filled with anxiety about all the things he could face medically. We are blessed that he was born healthy, with only some minor glitches, but the list is long of all the things that can go wrong with these little bodies with extra chromosomes. And so I fret and worry and wallow in self-pity.
Last week, a young mom shared that her baby, Faith, fell down a flight of stairs and, "because of God's love and protection", was unharmed. Sometimes when we're in pain, we become very selfish. I'm ashamed to admit that my response was, "Well, I'm pretty sure God loves me and my baby has Down syndrome!"
I struggled with it all week. On the one hand, I knew that she was absolutely right to give God the glory for Faith's safety. The Bible clearly states that all good gifts are from above. Protection of our children is a gift. He gives us such gifts because of His great love for us.
On the other hand, He loves us each, individually but equally, and I know that children are hurt and die all the time. He loves those parents, too. How come they didn't receive the gift of their child's protection? How come they weren't blessed?
It all comes down to the age-old question "Why?". And I was asking it. Why does my child have Down syndrome? Why does he have to struggle to hit milestones that come easily for others? Why do I have to listen for each breath as he struggles to breathe during one of his many colds? (as he has now.) It wasn't a "shake your fist at God and yell 'Why?!'" It was a "help me understand. I really want to know" why.
And so, the Lord began to minister to me. I've always thought that a gift was a temporal blessing; something that made my life easier or better. I started to realize that maybe He has a different definition of blessings and gifts. It's in times of pain and uncertainty that we learn to rely totally on Him, and to realize that His strength is perfect in our weakness. It's in those times that we learn, with every fiber of our being, that He is good. It's only in those times that we are conformed to His image and begin to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven. Maybe those times are a gift. His word says, "For we know that all things work together for good for those who believe and are called according to His purposes." I'm beginning to think that, while sometimes the "good" in this verse becomes evident with time, sometimes it will not be evident in this realm. But it is there, and it is real, and it is good. Maybe that's why we're instructed to give thanks in all things.
As I was coming to these conclusions, a friend of mine (who lost a baby boy a few years ago and also struggles with these things), sent me this. It was in her church bulletin:
“Judge not Christ’s love by providences, but by promises.”
Experiences are very powerful. They often feel more powerful than promises. So it's tempting to interpret prosperity and ease as God’s blessing and tribulation as God’s displeasure. And sometimes they are. But often they are not.
Actually, what we see all the way through the Bible is the Lord training His disciples to trust His promises more than providences. Think of Abraham and Sarah waiting for Isaac, or Jacob losing Rachel, or Joseph in slavery and prison, or Job’s suffering, or David running from Saul. Think of Lazarus and the heartbreak of his death and the constant tribulations of Paul. And of course Jesus set the ultimate example by looking to the joy set before Him as He endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).
Strange, isn’t it? In the Bible, pain is often the path to unspeakable joy, and prosperity is often an obstacle to it. What’s going on?
Simply, God wants us to treasure what we can’t see more than what we can. “For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18) And we find out that it’s pain more than prosperity that makes us look for what our eyes can’t see, and long for a satisfaction that doesn’t exist in this world.
So Thomas Wilcox’s advice is worth heeding. For those of us who are experiencing a bitter providence: “Bless God for shaking off false foundations, for any way whereby He keeps the soul awakened and looking after Christ; better sickness and temptations, than security and superficiality. ~Jon Bloom
So, today, I'm rejoicing that Faith was unharmed in her fall. And, I'm rejoicing that Simeon has Down syndrome. Because God is good, all the time.