In all honesty, even though Will has grown tremendously since his diagnosis, there are consistent struggles in my home and in my heart that have resulted from my death grip on the ideal dreams of family I’ve had. Every time I attend a parent-teacher conference at his school or see him playing alongside a peer, I am reminded that, no matter what I do, this terrible disability is never going away. Things will never come easy to my son and, because of that, I too will be fighting an uphill battle as long as he’s with me. When I meet other parents of children on the more severe end of the autism spectrum I know that there are some who have not seen their children progress at all. I feel guilty that I have seen growth in my son and I still struggle. I always find myself back at the anguished question: “Why, God? Why does it have to be this way?”
I wonder sometimes how I would have responded if Will had not shown progress at all or how I will respond if he stops progressing. What will I do if the Lord allows additional struggles or difficulties unrelated to autism to be added to my load? Will I still count God as faithful and worthy of enduring pain? I have begged the Lord to heal my son. In His answer, so different than what I have asked for, can I still count Him as good? What is really floating around in my occasional bitterness is the age-old question: Why does a good God allow suffering? Why do bad things happen to “good” people? If He’s capable of healing the sick and afflicted, why doesn’t He act?
From a biblical perspective, it’s clear that no one is good. From the moment Eve bit into the forbidden fruit in an attempt to be like God, sin has infiltrated every aspect of life, literally taking it away with the ushering in of death. Sin keeps us from an intimate relationship with our Creator, just as it keeps creation from its fullness, but in Jesus’ death, He rescued us from the eternal effects of sin. Unfortunately, though we’re rescued, we still live on earth, with the life God originally intended us to have sucked out.
Though now free to walk intimately with God, we are not yet free from the far-reaching effects of sin. Our God grieves over sin, creation groans under its chains, and believers await their final freedom with anguished anticipation. The brokenness of the world belongs to us-- it is our responsibility and ours to live in until God makes all things new. Though He hates sin and the brokenness it causes, true to His nature, He creates goodness and wholeness from even the most dire of circumstances. He is a Redeemer, capable of unleashing us from the chains of sin and making good from it for those who love Him. It’s what Paul meant by Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.” This came from a man who experienced great suffering, not only at the hands of other men, but also through a physical ailment, a byproduct of man’s sin problem. The specific health issue is in question, but Paul’s perspective on it is clear: “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”