“God only gives special needs children to special people.” You may have heard that before—or said it yourself.
Sixteen years ago, our son Taylor was diagnosed with a severe form of autism. Kind, godly people would approach me or my husband, giving us hugs and committing to pray. Often in conversation we were reminded that we must be special for God to give us such a responsibility. I didn’t know how to respond, because I didn’t feel special at all.
God showed me a multitude of things along this journey, some of which I can share with you:
1. His Word is always true, even when all seems lost.
I realized early on that my source of truth must still be God’s Word. When the word “autism” fell on my ears, like King David, I reminded my soul that God was still in control. God’s Word told me I had grace for every circumstance, so I began seeking Him for that grace. Pondering too far into the future was something I couldn’t handle, so I chose to gather my “manna” each morning and trust Him.
When we prayed for healing, fully expecting God to remove our son’s autism, God taught us that His sovereign glory was being seen through the disability. Complete healing is guaranteed one Day, but for now we rest in His goodness and celebrate little victories along the way.
2. The basics of the faith are lived out within disability.
When Taylor was diagnosed, I thought everyone (especially believers) would have perfect compassion for us. It didn’t take long to realize that sometimes people over-react, fail to respond, or say the wrong things. Yet, in each instance, the Lord challenged me to overlook faults and forgive.
At first it was hard, but brokenness gave way to obedience, and I grew as a result. Sometimes I wondered how many ignorant remarks I had made over the years to other people, and I was humbled at the thought. God showed me that perfect compassion is only found in intimacy with Christ, and anything extra from others is a bonus.
3. The gospel is displayed through caregiving.
I grew up in a strong Christian family who displayed the love of Christ and served Him well. You can imagine the struggle I had becoming a busy caregiver who had to pick and choose what service I was able to do. “No, I can’t,” seemed like acid coming out of my mouth. It almost seemed cruel to have talents and not be able to use them. Yet, I had no idea what beautiful truth the Lord was going to reveal.
Through that time, He showed me that home life and caregiving were illustrations of the gospel:
- Hours spent exhausting myself for my son’s care served to remind me of the provision I had enjoyed for years under the Lord’s wing.
- Setting aside my own wants and needs caused me to reflect on my selfless Savior who left everything to die on a cross for my sin.
- Often I was reminded that we are all handicapped by our sin, and it took Someone much greater than us to do what we could never do for ourselves.
Marveling at what Jesus did gave me strength to keep going. Despite all the ups and downs over the years, He remains my biggest blessing and encourager.
After sixteen years of living this life and seeing how much it has changed me, I can truly say that God does not give special needs children to special people. Instead, God gives these children to families whom He will show Himself special to. All glory is the Lord’s for His faithfulness, love, kindness, and mercy!
When in the night my eyes barely close before the morning comes rolling in, I wake with the presence of One who is greater to start it all over again.
Through sadness and stress, I say, “I am blessed,” for the journey isn’t all about me. But, rather a King who will give me sweet treasures from a storehouse I can’t even see.
Then long in the evening, my heart cries for strength because I’m weary and desperately dry, And along comes a shower from the One who is worthy to give grace from His endless supply. —Sheila Gosney