See What God Has Built (Ros' Blog)
Just recently I’ve been having some interesting conversations with a friend who is a Jehovah’s Witness. I’ve got to know him through a local voluntary organisation. He told me he had some questions that had been puzzling him. In particular, he said, for a lot of people, having a severely disabled child would be a challenge to their faith and might even undermine it, but in my case it seemed to have strengthened my faith, and he wanted to know why.
It was a joy to share with him my story of how God broke into my life and revealed Himself and His love to me through the experience of parenting a disabled daughter. He steered the conversation round to some of our theological differences, and I was able to explain to him why I didn’t agree with his faith’s explanation of some of the key Scriptures on which we have a different view. But that wasn’t the really significant part of the conversation. As Leonard Ravenhill once said, “A man with an experience of God is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.”
I was thinking about this as I watched a recent episode of DIY SOS, presented by Nick Knowles. In this episode, the family had a son who, like my daughter, was born very prematurely, and, like my daughter, experienced brain damage resulting in quadriparetic cerebral palsy. Their house was not at all suitable either for meeting the family’s needs, or for giving their other non-disabled child some freedom and peace in her life, problems I could readily identify with.
His mum talked movingly about how they had to go through a process of grieving for the sadness of seeing their son so limited in what he could achieve and experience, but how they then picked themselves up and set about giving him the best life he could have. There was a parallel in this with what Nick Knowles and his team were doing – assessing all the problems that the home presented, tearing down the parts that didn’t work for the family, and wreaking a lot of destruction before beginning to rebuild and make alterations and extensions to the property. It looked like chaos. But despite the apparent mayhem, there was a carefully-crafted master plan. And as always with this programme, every detail had been thought of, and the plan went far beyond what the family said they needed. The finished result not only met all of the family’s needs, but went far beyond their wildest dreams.
The reason this programme reminded me of the conversation with my friend was because in many ways that house was a parable of my life and, I’m sure, the lives of many others affected by disability. I had a reasonably happy life; it suited me and I wasn’t looking for more. Then the very premature birth and subsequent battle for life of my tiny daughter was like a demolition crew that came in and dismantled my neat arrangements. In those early days I couldn’t see the master plan. All I knew was that everything around me seemed to be falling apart. The devastating news of the extent of my little girl’s disabilities felt more like an end than a beginning at the time.
But, as I shared with my friend, this experience proved to be the opening in my world through which God was able to break in with His love and grace. The life I have ended up with, and the depth of relationship with God, has far exceeded the little dreams of domestic bliss that I had before my daughter was born.
I’m sure many other people and families affected by disability can tell a similar story – that through circumstances which seemed crushing at the time, God has worked out a master plan that exceeds our wildest dreams.
The Psalmist expresses this experience vividly in Psalm 66:
“For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.”
What’s your story of God’s abundance revealed through life’s difficulties? Here at Through the Roof we’d love to hear it. And maybe you too have friends who wonder why your circumstances have not demolished your faith. What an opportunity, to share with them what God has done.
Care and Compassion: The Summer 2019 Vital Link
The Summer 2019 Vital Link Newsletter is now available for download. This issue contains stories from our work in Eldoret and Kosovo, new roles for the team, a report from the Brunel holiday, and much more.
- Follow this link to download the Summer 2019 Vital Link (including a donor form) - right-click and select 'save' to save the file for later. It's a 2.1MB PDF.
Or click on the cover image below to read the Vital Link online using Joomag - you can zoom in and swap between pages much more easily that by just using a PDF reader.