Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Bitter Blessing of Autism Spectrum Disorder

I know I have woefully neglected my blog lately. I've been so busy with four therapists, chiropractor visits, cooking, cleaning, laundry, playing with Jude, photography and editing pictures late into the night, and trying to squeeze in little bits of quality time with Josh, that blogging has all but completely fallen off my radar.

Josh, on the other hand, has been blogging more than ever, and has some really amazing things to say. If you don't already follow his blog, please visit him at GospelLife. I promise, you will come away encouraged.

He posted something today that is deeply personal for both of us, and so I wanted to share it here as well, with his permission, of course. You can read the original post on his blog here. Below are his words, but from both of our hearts. I hope that you will be touched and encouraged by it:

No one plans to have a child on the autism spectrum. We review the worlds that we create in our prenatal imaginations and declare, “It is good.” Sure, there are scraped knees and runny noses in those worlds, but we imagine our children to be unhindered by diseases, disorders, or disabilities. In our minds, we create our children in our own image, only better than ourselves. Of course, to some degree or another, we all lose that imaginary world. It just isn’t possible. No child is perfect.

 We weren’t surprised when a psychologist diagnosed Jude with Autism Spectrum Disorder earlier this month. The diagnosis was only the culmination of what had been a growing suspicion over the past year. In fact, in many ways, we felt relieved by the diagnosis. We finally knew what was wrong. We finally knew what we were up against. Even so, this knowledge didn’t make life easier. You can never truly appreciate the value of communication until you have a child who cannot communicate. I will never look at words the same after parenting a child who doesn’t know how to use them and only uses whines, screams, and cries in their place. Few things break a parent’s heart more than being unable to give their child words of comfort.

 My prenatal imagination was an arrogant act of self-worship, and God, in his kindness, chose to destroy that idolatry. I do not mean that Jude’s autism is God’s punishment for my sin. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). Rather, for the Christian, the trials of this life are means of grace whereby God delivers us from our sin and makes us more like Christ. Paul encouraged the new churches of Galatia with this very thought: “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). God is preparing us for his kingdom. God is taking us down that path, and we know that we are truly on the glorious pilgrimage through the mass of tribulations that we face. Like the newly liberated nation of Israel, he does not take us to the Promised Land via the direct highway because the hard, meandering route through the wilderness displays God’s glory to a greater degree, and only by seeing his all-sufficient, all-satisfying glory in the desert will we be prepared to behold him in the renewed earth where his glory shines like the sun.

 I pray that Jude will be healed. I pray that his therapy and diet will be effective, but I don’t question the path of my pilgrimage. I don’t resent the fact that I have a child on the autism spectrum. I am happy and blessed to be Jude’s father. As John Piper has titled a book, this providence is simultaneously sweet and bitter, but I am convinced that God’s world is better than my world. Even though this world is fallen, almighty God continues to direct even the brokenness, in some inexplicable way, for the good of his people and the glory of his name. I praise God for the blessing of Jude. I even praise God for the bitter blessing of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

1 comment:

  1. That was beautifully written. I can't imagine better-equipped parents for Jude. Love you guys!