What else did the Lord teach me through my disabled son? Well, he taught me that the Lord God is a compassionate God in spite of sins committed because of our weak minds and constitutions. Let me tell you another story about him.
Some 10 years back I was camping with my good friend, a colleague, and his wife Christine. Our son was also there. My wife had hidden a box of snacks in the car. Sometime later my wife discovered that that box of snacks was gone. Of course she right away suspected our son. And he denied it, as he always does when confronted in a case like that. He was also very strong in his denial (a sure sign of guilt).
But then my wife had a brainwave. She remembered that a few hours earlier he had taken a long time in the campground outhouse. So she went there and checked down the pit, and saw all the wrappers of the snacks. Thus she had proof that our son was lying. Of course, he continued to deny. That is typical behaviour of a Prader-Willi child.
Later on that day my colleague and friend saw my son standing for quite some time by a tree. And so he approached him and asked him what he was doing. He told his “uncle” that he was praying to the Lord and asking him for forgiveness. He told him how badly he felt for doing what he had done, and for having Prader-Willi Syndrome.
He was truly remorseful. And he mourned the fact that he had this inbred weakness. He was fighting against his sin with all his strength. And so though he falls into that sin time and again, he continues to struggle. And we continue to help him struggle.
(Right now, through the generosity of many friends and relatives our son lives in his own apartment. We receive funding from the Alberta government to pay for staff to supervise him 24/7. He is home every other weekend, and also on many statutory holidays. And he is thriving within that environment. We are very thankful to the Lord.)
Let me give you a similar example of God’s mercy in spite of unwanted sin from my own ministry. About 15 years ago a young woman talked to me about her mental problems. She was hearing voices all the time. Those voices told her all kinds of awful and even blasphemous things. They told her all kinds of horrible things about God, his church, and his people. This young woman’s depression became exacerbated because of this. She even entertained thoughts of killing her children and herself. The worst thing for her was that she thought that because of those voices she would stand condemned before God. For how can a Christian have such evil thoughts and voices in her head?
I knew that she had been under a lot of strain lately, and that among other things she was suffering from postpartum depression. I assured her, that since these thoughts were in her head involuntarily, that because she did not want those evil voices in her head, she therefore did not have to doubt her salvation. I also assured her that in spite of those voices she is a child of God. I told her that I would only be worried if she actually wanted to have those thoughts in her head. And that was certainly not the case.
I also advised her to go and see her doctor. She did. I came to see her a week later. She had been to see the doctor who prescribed medication to treat her depression and extreme anxiety. Although the medication had not yet fully taken effect she was already beginning to feel a different person.
And so, through compassion from the church, and also help through medication and counselling she received healing. This happened a long time ago, but I know that she is doing well.
People with special needs also need our patience and our time. They need sacrifice from us. We have to serve them. The Lord Jesus himself said that that is why he came to earth. As he says in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Men did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” We have to be image bearers of God. That means that we have to be servants of others. That is the case especially for office bearers. We have to familiarize ourselves with the needs of the congregation, and meet those needs to the best of our ability.