I have been reading and thinking about Special Needs, parenting and the church. Friday is chats over coffee, which is a time that I write on a more personal note. So I share my thoughts or what is happening. I want it to be a time when you get to know me a bit more.
I joined the special needs parents club 14 years ago. It wasn’t a club that I planned to join but I have to say that the people I have met have been wonderful, caring, encouraging, and supportive.
I have been thinking and beginning to put down on paper thoughts about Special Needs from the Bible. So where do we begin when we think about this topic. We begin in the beginning.
Special Needs in the Beginning
God created man in the image of God, Imago Dei. Understanding that gives value to each life. It doesn’t matter the special needs each life is valuable. (Genesis 1:27)
Life was perfect but not for long. The Fall changed everything and disease and brokenness entered the world. (Genesis 3) We live in a fallen world full of disease, disobedience, and death. Special needs remind us that we are living in a broken world. But it was into the broken world that Jesus came as a man to redeem us. Jesus came for the broken.
That gives a broad picture but what about the individual?
Special Needs in an Individual
The picture in Psalm 139:13-16 is of knitting and putting together each of our parts. So God knows the extra chromosomes or the parts that are not the way they should be. God has created each individual. I love the response. It is one of praise. It calls us to worship. (I am seeing that word quite a bit this year — Worship in the Waiting and I no longer choose Joy.)
The words that the Lord said to Jeremiah remind us that God is the creator of each individual. God knows each of us. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV)
Remember when Moses gives his reasons to the Lord saying that he is not eloquent. The Lord’s response reminds us that he is the creator even of these special needs. “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord.” Exodus 4:12. (ESV) I find the next bit comforting “No therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” Exodus 4:13 (ESV). That applies to us today. God will go with us and teach us.
How does all this help me as a Special Needs parent?
I find understanding in remembering that we are each made in God’s image. That makes life valuable.
I am reminded that we live in a broken world. The disease and disability is a reminder of The Fall and the need that we have for a Saviour.
I find comfort in knowing that God is sovereign in this. He created each individual and knows the needs that they might have.
My belief in God’s sovereignty is what carried me through the early days of Special Needs parenting. We were living in Asia on the other side of the world from family. Miss K needed one surgery within days of birth and as she healed from that surgery we learned that she needed another operation and this one open heart surgery. Just before heart surgery we received the chromosome study and learned Miss K had Trisomy 21. Was this a surprise to God? Did he forget where we were living? Did he know that she would need two operations and the expense of those? My greatest comfort during that time was knowing that God is sovereign. He knew all this and he cares for Miss K and us.
Disabilities can overwhelm us but even more God should overwhelm us with his compassion and power.
What forms your basis for understanding special needs in the Bible? Next week I will share some of what I have learned reading through the gospels and seeing Jesus interactions reaching the broken.