Have you ever received comments like the following: God is allowing you to go through this because He loves you and He thinks you can handle it? Or: He hand-picked you to be parents of a special needs child because He thinks you are special and He knows you can do it better than others?
Worse still, my husband and I once received a comment that went like this: "There must be sin in either of your lives or your ancestors' lives that is causing your son's autism."
This last comment along with other similar types of theology made me come under condemnation and kept me in bondage for a certain period of time in my life. That was the time when I tried to examine our lives for every possible sin to be confessed before God. It was a very tedious process, not to mention how limiting it became as I checked and double-checked myself for every thought, word, action, and intent of the heart. Well, if my son's autism was truly the result of sins in our lives, he should have been healed by the time I had finished all my self-examinations and confessions, including every possible sin that my ancestors before me might have committed!
As for comments like the first two that are meant to be encouraging, I also found them rather difficult to receive. Simply because it goes against my understanding of a loving God.
The loving God that I know is a Father who won't give his son a stone when he asks for bread, or a serpent when he asks for a fish (Matt 7:9,10).
How does giving me an autistic son be proof of God's love for me?
For quite some time now, I have been questioning the idea that suffering in the form of syndromes, disorders, sicknesses and diseases comes from God. For my entire Christian life, I have accepted God's sovereignty in all things, including suffering. This helps me deal with the question of why some people die young or some go through more suffering than others. Even though I have accepted that God's sovereignty is something to be revered rather than questioned, it has never completely sat well with me that God causes or allows us to go through suffering such as these in order to make us better people.
Just recently, I was led to a scripture which seems to support my belief that suffering comes from living in a fallen, sinful world that operates on the principles of sowing and reaping rather than from God. It has made me so excited that I simply must share it here!
"You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins. He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross." ~ Colossians 2:13,14 (NLT) ~
Isaiah 53:5 tells us that when Christ died on the cross in our place, "... He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins... beaten so we could be whole... [and] whipped so we could be healed." In other words, there are two sides to the cross: one side is for the forgiveness and redemption of our sins; the other side is for the healing and wholeness of our bodies, minds, souls, and spirits.
John 3:17 says "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." The word 'saved' is the word sozo in the original Greek text which means 'to heal, preserve, do well, save (self), be made whole' (Strong's Concordance Greek Dictionary Entry #4982). This confirms that Jesus died on the cross for a two-fold purpose: 1. the forgiveness of our sins; and 2. the healing and restoration of our whole being.
So, in my understanding, Colossians 2:14 is saying that God cancelled every charge against us by nailing it to the cross when Jesus was crucified. This means that every sin and sickness that causes pain, sorrow and suffering has been nailed to the cross. Which also means that if God took the trouble to nail every suffering to the cross, why would He give it to us in the first place?
To me, it seems logical to believe that suffering doesn't come from God. God can't give us what He doesn't have. I don't think He has autism, so He can't give us autism. Neither does he have cancer or any other diseases that lead to death, so He can't give us those either.
If I believe that suffering comes from God or that God allows it, then it goes against the very nature of who God is and His good intentions, plans and purposes for our lives. It nullifies what Jesus did when He died for us on the cross.
Furthermore, if I believe that God is out to punish me by causing or allowing
sufferings so as to make me a better person, I will not be able to
develop a secure relationship with Him. I will be fearful all the time and constantly examining myself to see if I have sinned today and to make sure I confess every single sin to avoid His rebuke and punishment. I've done all that and it didn't get me anywhere. If anything, it made me even more introspective and sin-conscious. Instead, when I focus on the goodness of God and His gentle, kind, and loving nature, I experience the love, joy and peace that He offers us. So, it serves me better to believe that God is good,
all the time. That He loves us passionately and wants the best for us, no
matter what our circumstances tell us.
The Bible says we are to give thanks in all things (I Thess 5:18), not for all things. This tells me that God is not responsible for everything that we go through.
Nevertheless, I do believe that when we go through sufferings, God is
able to help us endure them, provide the relief that we need, and
sometimes even miraculously deliver us from them. He is such a big God
that He can make good come out of adverse situations, which gives us
hope and provides the platform for our faith to grow.
Keeping my hope and faith anchored in a God who loves me unconditionally and who wants what's best for me keeps my heart soft and tender towards Him. Instead of turning away from Him and blaming Him for my son's autism as well as the unpleasant things that happen in my life, I want to defend Him and call on Him when I need help.
I do not have the answers to a lot of questions in life. Like why some people get healed while others don't.
But what I do know that is that whatever I choose to believe needs to draw me closer to the One who alone can give me what I need to navigate through the challenges of life. Like peace in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty, hope in the depths of despair, and joy in the threshold of sorrow and pain. It is vital for me to keep my heart free from being offended by Him because He has failed at times to answer my prayer on my terms. I need to focus on what He has done rather than what He hasn't done. He has shown Himself to be ever present and faithful during my times of need in the past. And I know He will continue to do so because He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
I choose to believe that our God is a good God; that He has wonderful plans for our lives and amazing things ahead of us. That even when we make mistakes and make messes of our lives, He can turn things around and bring good out of our messes.
This belief sets me free to expect and receive more of God's love and goodness.
It fills me with hope to believe that the best is yet to come!
"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! For his mercy endures forever."
~ Psalm 136:1 ~
"For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endures to all generations." ~ Psalm 100:5 ~
"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good...." ~ Psalm 34:8 ~