Thomas Edison is famous for saying, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Something similar can be said for God’s blessings.
We’ll readily accept good news as a sign of God’s presence. But when trouble strikes, we’re prone to question why He’s abandoned us.
It’s not unusual for God’s activity in and through our lives to be wrapped in the skin of challenging circumstances. That’s often the case when a child is diagnosed with autism.
Autism can manifest itself in a number of ways, so it’s tricky to diagnosis. Some autistic children are bright, but have difficulty interacting socially. Other kids show signs of aggression and demonstrate some mental impairment. There can also be sensory issues where noises become bothersome, or a child suffers repetitive tics, head banging, or continuous rocking.
All in all, it’s difficult to draw narrow boundaries and say, “This is what an autistic child looks like.”
This we do know. It’s a neurological condition that impacts at least 1.5 million kids in this country.
And, yet, as prevalent as the condition is, neighbors, church friends, and family members often struggle to understand how to come alongside someone with an autistic child.
For the parents especially, the diagnosis of autism can be difficult to absorb. The frustration and confusion can be immense. And standing atop the long list of unanswered questions is often this: “God, where are you?”
The struggle is understandable, but the joy of God’s blessings are often hidden within life’s challenges.
That’s a discovery Emily Colson and her father, the late Chuck Colson, made when Emily’s son, Max, was diagnosed with autism. You’ll hear their story tomorrow and Thursday on our broadcast, “The Unexpected Joys of Raising an Autistic Child.” I think you’ll be inspired by how the Lord took something that many would label as “tragic” or “broken” and transformed it into something beautiful.
But, ironically, it wasn’t Max who was broken and in need of healing. In many ways, it was Emily and her dad. Emily says, “I didn’t ask God to be a parent to a special-needs child, but oh, the lessons I’ve learned. I feel so much closer to God because of His tender heart for my son, who He designed.”
And Chuck was transformed as well. Early in his family’s life, Chuck was committed to the Marines. He was gone all the time. Then he was consumed with politics and trying to change the world. That all came crashing down on him during the Watergate scandal. In the aftermath, he realized how much of his family’s lives he had missed. He spent his final decades rebuilding his relationships with his children. And through Max, he came to understand unconditional love to a depth he hadn’t fully appreciated before.
If you have a child with autism, or a friend or family member dealing with this diagnosis, I think you’ll enjoy our conversation with the late Chuck Colson and his daughter Emily. Hear how Max’s autism brought both challenges and unique joy into the Colson family.