Written by Jeremy Davis, Director of Student Ministry
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
My wife, Tara, and I were sitting in the ultrasound room awaiting the results of our weekly ultrasound for our little girl who has a rare chromosome disorder. My phone buzzes, and it is Pastor Dave asking Tara and I to share a brief reflection on having special needs children. He wanted us to examine Psalm 139:13-16 and share our experience with other special needs families. As we’re awaiting the results to be read by the Maternal Fetal Medicine Doctor I begin reading out loud Psalm 139. We’re in the same room where many of expecting parents have heard devastating news about their child(ren), potentially news that their child would only have a few life-breaths before passing into eternity, news that their child will have a very challenging life ahead of them, news that no parent wants to hear of their child(ren) on the way. Does Psalm 139 change in these cases? Not one bit, in fact, as I’ve always thought long before having special needs children of my own, special needs individuals teach us so much about God.
God’s Word does not change when our circumstances do; 1 Peter 1:25 tells us that the Word of the Lord endures forever. These children, from the world’s perspective, are a mistake, an error in genetic coding, a mutation, a whoopsie, but from God’s perspective, these are wonderfully and fearfully made image bearers of God. This means they have incredible value in the eyes of God.
Being a special needs parent is tough, and there are often difficult questions to process through. The most common question that has rattled through my mind has been “Why? Why is this happening? Why would God allow this? Why? Why? Why?” These are natural questions to ask, and I’m thankful the Scriptures help answer these difficult questions. In John 9:1-3, the disciples observe a young man (at least 12 years of age) who was born blind. The natural question of that time was, “Who sinned to cause this man’s blindness?” Jesus reveals an important truth for every special needs family; Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” The rest of the chapter unfolds with a beautiful narrative of how this man’s blindness displayed the works of God. Understanding this text changed everything for me. Instead of asking God, “Why have You done this?” I’m thanking God for the opportunity to see His works displayed in my children. I can share a multitude of ways that Elias’ life has made a lasting impression on others and how our unborn daughter has touched others; the works of God have already been displayed in their young lives.
We’ve established two truths thus far- special needs children are not a mistake, not a whoopsie. They are precious image bearers of God. We have also established that a child’s special needs give you a front row seat to watch the mighty works of God. With these two truths in mind, here’s an awesome encouragement for you all, which is one of the most profound things anyone has said to me. “Jeremy, you’ve been given an incredible gift. God has found you and Tara worthy to raise one of His precious children.” These words were from my previous youth pastor after sharing the news of Elias’ diagnosis. I praise the Lord for this truth. Instead of looking at this journey as a daunting, difficult task, I now have the freedom to see it as a precious gift, as I get to steward two of the most precious image bearers of God.
To my other brothers and sisters raising these blessings, God has found you worthy to raise His sweetest creations. What an awesome calling. What a weighty calling. These precious children are fearfully and wonderfully made; they are masterpieces created by God, knit together by His hand. You are not alone as you shepherd and disciple your children. You have your church family journeying alongside of you. More importantly, you have Christ. Always remember the promise Jesus made to His followers, “I am with you always, to the end of the Age” (Matthew 28:20b).
Your Brother In Christ,