Today’s meditation is again from the book “Sometimes Miracles Hide” by Bruce Carroll (see meditations #39 and #40). It is another of the letters that Carroll received from someone with a handicapped child.
My life is in your song. When I first became pregnant, I had no idea what the Lord had in store for me and my beautiful baby girl. I had never given any thought to the possibility of having a handicapped child. I had never even been around someone who was handicapped…
After an emergency C-section, I delivered a precious baby girl. We named her Liana Rose. The doctors and nurses calmed my fear about the C-section and told us that Liana was perfectly normal. She was certainly the most beautiful baby I had ever seen.
At nine months we began to notice that Liana was not sitting up or trying to crawl. As naive new parents, we thought it was because her grandma and grandpa (who kept her while I worked) held her all the time. Just before she turned one, we took her to the pediatrician to see if anything was wrong. We were stunned when the doctor told us that he thought she had a brain tumor! His supposition was shortly proven wrong, but that was the beginning of an emotional roller-coaster ride.
When Liana was just thirteen months old, she was accurately diagnosed with cerebral palsy. But she was so perfect looking! How could this happen? Didn’t God love me? Didn’t he love my baby girl? Looking back, it’s a wonder that my marriage and my sanity survived all the extreme ups and downs. We were told, and willingly believed, that her case was very mild and that with just a bit of therapy she would walk and talk… During this time I was also dealing with the grief of three miscarriages, and we were having frequent money worries. But surely, with just a little more therapy, Liana would walk, just a little more time and she would talk… But no, no, and no.
Her progress was very slow and painfully gained. We soon had to accept that she would never walk or run or dance, and her speech was all but impossible to understand. Our goals were lowered again and again. Now, we simply hoped to get her out of diapers.
When Liana was five, I had a healthy baby boy. About this time, my husband became a Christian, and we prayed and prayed for Liana. We took her to healing services and had others pray for her and us. Doesn’t God love innocent little girls? Was I being punished for something? How could God be so cruel? There were times when I was very mad at God for not healing Liana.
My heart broke every time the neighbor kids came to ask if Liana’s little brother could some out and play, while Liana was ignored. Then I noticed a lively little girl in a wheelchair who rode the bus that Liana took every day to school and therapy. The bus driver mentioned that the little girl needed a place to stay while her father was out of the country. I thought she might be the perfect friend for Liana. That was how Kelly came into our lives. Through a series of circumstances, we had Kelly for almost four years. And so began our career as foster parents.
Over the next ten years, twenty children came through our home. We had babies, teenagers, hurt ones, handicapped ones– every kind of challenge you can think of and some you can’t. God was using us in a miraculous way; we saw healings of every kind.
We noticed that Liana loved each and every one of these children with her whole heart. She accepted them just as they were– unconditionally, unreservedly. She taught them and us that there was no one we couldn’t love, no matter how unlovable they seemed. She taught me that everyone has something to give and that God can use anyone. Liana, who has almost no ability to care for herself, showed me how to care for others…
My, how God has used her! I know now that God is not cruel. He is infinite in love and goodness. Of all the things that I would not have chosen, having a handicapped child ranks at the top. Of all the blessings in my life, Liana has been the greatest…
The most important thing I’ve learned from Liana is that we are all handicapped and that God loves us just as we are. He does not need to heal us and make us perfect in order to love us. If we were all perfect, we would not need Him and we would not need each other…
II Corinthians 12:7-10 — …In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Isaiah 41:10 — So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Romans 5:3b-4 — …We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Help me, O Lord, to make a true use of all disappointments and calamities in this life, in such a way that they may unite my heart more closely with you. Cause them to separate my affections from worldly things and inspire my soul with more vigor in the pursuit of true happiness. Amen. –Susanna Wesley (1669-1742), mother of John and Charles Wesley and 17 other children