We’ve all heard the conversation in one way, shape, or form—when expectant parents are asked whether they are hoping for a boy or girl. The stock answer?” It doesn’t matter, as long as our baby is healthy.”
Have you ever wondered how that vignette sounds in the ears of a parent of a child with special needs or worse—the ears of the child himself? So frequently the attention is focused on what is bad, what is wrong, or what is lacking.
“I Will Give You Rest”
I suppose that is understandable to a point. Being a child with special needs or being blessed with such a child as a parent has its attendant challenges to be sure. But on the other end of the equation stands a compassionate Savior who says: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).
My wife Kris and I have experienced that dynamic with our twenty-two-year-old son, Andrew. His list of disabilities is long including blindness, hormone deficiencies, seizures, etc. But it is interesting and instructive to me that in the providence of God, I was asked to write this article on our Andrew’s spiritual birthday. Several years ago on this very date, while sitting on the bank of our favorite fishing pond, Andrew in his child-like way, asked Jesus Christ to be His Lord and Savior.
Hopefully the thought of eternity motivates and encourages each of us every day. But having a son like Andrew heightens that awareness. We long for the day when he sees with new eyes, thinks with a new mind, and walks in a new body. All of this is possible because of our Savior’s finished work on the cross. Yes we sometimes become weary, but Christ gives us rest. His yoke lovingly teaches us because He is gentle and humble in heart.
I understand that not every child with special needs has the mental capacity to make such a decision for Christ and others may choose not to. Parents who find themselves walking those paths can find their rest from Jesus in other ways. But by God’s grace, our family has special reasons to long for eternity. Romans 8:18–19 is never far from our gaze where Paul said; “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.”
I wish you could hear Andrew pray. I wish you could hear him sing worship songs in church. I wish you could hear him ask forgiveness. He’s special all right. But not in ways you might immediately think. Jesus has given him, and us, rest.
So the next time you hear the “are you hoping for a boy or girl” question, consider gently interjecting with—“it doesn’t matter, because Jesus will give us rest.”