Thursday, October 12, 2017

John 9: Hope For the Special Needs Family

There are some scriptures in the Bible that have resonated well with me since giving birth to my daughter with Down syndrome. This passage is one of them: 

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us.[a] The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!
John 9:1-7 NLT

Now, some people might read this passage and conclude that all people with disabilities need healed. I believe this is why many people in the church have felt comfortable and "right" about approaching Jaycee and I over the years to pray for her to be healed of Down syndrome. I'm not going to discuss this point today, but I'm going to try to show you something else that speaks to me in this passage. 

When I read this passage 11 years ago after giving birth to Jaycee, the question the disciples asked Jesus hit me hard. They saw a man born blind, and they wanted Jesus to explain which person's sin caused the blindness. They wanted to know why it happened. They wanted to know whose fault it was that a baby would be born blind. 

I wondered how many people in that village had the same question and opinion. I wondered how many times the parents looked at their blind child over the years and wondered what they did wrong. I wondered if they felt guilt or ashamed from the looks, assumptions, and questions. I never thought about the parents in this story until I had Jaycee. I always understood the curiosity of the disciples. But, after having Jaycee, I felt for those parents. 

You see after Jaycee was born, there were many, many people searching for the "answer" of why my baby was born with Down syndrome and a heart defect. A few did suggest my own or my husband's sin may have been to blame. I was encouraged to pray and repent and see if my daughter could be healed. When she wasn't, I was told to dig deeper and pray harder to help my child. They looked at my daughter and believed her diagnoses must have been sin related. This caused me to feel like a second class citizen in the Christian world. My family felt marked.

Me with newborn Jaycee
Still others saw my newborn daughter's diagnoses as something from God. They said I was strong enough or special enough to catch God's attention to receive a gift of a child like this. They wanted me to embrace the diagnoses.

You know what I was after all these opinions. Confused!

Opinions are many when a diagnosis comes. That's a fact now and appears to be a part of the culture way back in Bible times too.  

Jesus responded to the disciples that no one sinned to cause the blindness. It was no one's "fault," and it was merely for people to see God's power. In other words, the disciples were way off! They were viewing the man and his parents with some judgment (deciding sin caused the physical disability). 

This showed me that you can be very close to God and develop wrong conclusions. The disciples walked with Jesus and heard his teachings. They were close to him, yet they came to some very wrong conclusions about the parents and the man. Had they not talked to Jesus first about the situation, they may have talked to the blind man or his parents about their sins trying to "help" them. They may have driven the family farther from God instead of bringing them closer.

That was something good the disciples did. Before they talked to the man who was blind, they talked to Jesus about it! The information they got from Jesus was revelation to them!

Over the years of raising a child with developmental and medical problems in the Christian faith, I have had to keep this passage in mind. The first point being that many people are searching for answers in my situation, not just me. Secondly, very faithful Christians may get some things wrong because not one of us have God's perspective. People will say wrong things to me, and I need to be able to respond to them with grace and forgiveness. I can also teach people about their wrong assumptions and help them see beyond a disability. Finally, we all need to set our opinions aside and ask God for information on a situation before opening our mouths. We could really do permanent damage to a person's spiritual life if we speak without God's wisdom.

This is why John 9 is one of my favorite Bible passages. God has heard every accusation against my family. God has seen people who have tried to minister to us when we didn't ask to be ministered to. God has heard my questions and seen my tears. He has the answers we are all seeking. He has all the wisdom. He is the hope even when others make me feel like there's no place for Down syndrome in the church. God is the one who embraces my daughter's soul and can help others do the same.

Thanks for stopping by today! I'm taking part in the 31 for 21 challenge-where bloggers write for all 31 days in October for Trisomy 21 awareness. Happy Down syndrome Awareness Month!

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