Answers May Come Slowly, But They Do Come...
I once posted this thought:
During a recent get-together, a very dear friend made a comment, which taken at face value appeared blatantly callous-to say the least. He said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "Everybody deals with a wayward child at some point in their life, and you can find plenty of scripture stories to help with that, but there are no scripture stories about having a special needs child like you have!"
It's a matter of fact, there aren't any scripture stories that I know of that instruct us on raising special needs children...
Well, that was two years ago, and things change.
This past Wednesday, while visiting with our missionaries, we were discussing the scriptures. We were sharing favorites, and swapping thoughts, when my wife asked if either of them knew a scripture which dealt with raising a special needs child. At first the Elders seemed stumped, then Elder Halligan said, "the only thing that is coming to mind is the phrase about the work of God being manifest."
We turned quickly to the index and searched for a few key words. We found it.
John 9: 1-3 (emphasis added)
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
Shortly after the missionaries left I received a call from a close friend. During our phone conversation my friend disclosed that they had recently been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (a disorder on the Autism Spectrum).
During our conversation my friend described the recent discovery on why they suffer from severe migraines. One symptom of their Asperger's is a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) that makes them hypersensitive to stimulation. This sensory defensiveness, as it is sometimes called, can include such things as feeling pain from clothing rubbing against skin, an inability to tolerate normal lighting in a room, a dislike of being touched and discomfort when one looks directly into the eyes of another person. For my friend the pain is caused, among other things, by the over stimulation of the brain as they work on complex mathematical problems, like quantum physics, and noise generated from crowds or groups of people.
By applying newly discovered techniques, my friend has been able to reduce their pain (on a scale from 1 to 10) from an intense 8 to a much more acceptable 2. Now that they are nearly pain free, my friend has an empathetic desire to understand the pain in other people who suffer from SPD, and discover ways in which they may help them reduce the pain, if not purge it all together.
I have thought over these two discussions for the past few days. This evening I came across a sermon by James E Faust from 1984. It was an answer to prayer.
Elder Faust began his comments by saying,
With a prayer in my heart for understanding, and with some timidity, I speak today concerning parents and children with special problems. I do so because I am persuaded that these extraordinary challenges are, as the Savior himself said, that “the works of God should be made manifest.” (John 9:3.) How these challenges are met can often be the expression of the very essence of the gospel of Christ...
He spoke of the challenges families and individuals face, provided several examples of how the works of God are manifest in the lives of special needs individuals, and how it is our test, not theirs, to face their challenges in a compassionate way.
He then concluded with a thought, which I offer to my friend and those who suffer with a disability, those who have family members who do, and those who provide care for them:
The works of God are manifest in so many ways... For those who have asked, “Why did this happen to me?” or, “Why did this happen to my child?” there is assurance that the difficulty will not last forever. Life on this earth is not long. Caring...is a manifestation of the pure love of Christ. For those who carry such a challenge in this life, God himself provides a response. That response is patience and the strength to endure. It lies...“in hope of eternal life, … promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2)