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Autism, the Good and Perfect GiftMarch 31, 2012
by Sandra Peoples
September of 2010 we took our three-year-old son to the doctor because something was wrong. After a couple months of therapy and testing, he had a diagnosis—autism. It changed everything. One of the primary things it changed was my view on God.
I’ve been a Christian since I was six years old. I attended a Christian university, have a Master of Divinity degree, and I’m married to a pastor. While my relationship with God and my love of His Word set a firm foundation for my faith, when the rain came, I had to decide where I would seek shelter. It wasn’t easy.
I asked myself and God some hard questions.
Why me? Why my son? Was I being punished? Was there a lesson I was supposed to learn? If I were supposed to learn a lesson, why couldn’t there be another way? Why did my son have to suffer so I could learn a lesson?
Multiple times every day I had to repeat to myself, “God loves me. God loves James.” Again and again I said it. I said it until I believed it.
The book of James says, "Every good gift and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (1:17). My problem was that I wasn’t seeing any gifts in my life.
It's easy to see what we would consider as good and perfect gifts coming from God: good health, happy and obedient kids, pretty weather, and extra quality time with our husbands. These are all good gifts. But because everything we have or encounter comes from God, we must also consider the hard things good and perfect gifts.
On my current list of gifts from God
Nicole, an occupational therapist who is a member of our church. She comes over once a week to work with James. She is so passionate about serving kids with special needs and their families, she organizes respite care nights at our church so parents can have a night to themselves while their kids are being cared for by volunteers.
Pam, a behavioral therapist we found “by chance” on the Internet. She guides me in helping James learn new skills and words. She had a teenage autistic son, so not only is she James’s therapist, she sometimes serves as my “therapist,” listening to my fears and encouraging me with the truth of God’s Word.
James’s teacher at school is another blessing. She not only teaches a class full of busy special needs boys, she loves each one of them. James will be in her class for two and a half years before he moves on to kindergarten, and we are so thankful she is in our lives to teach and care for him.
Dr. Layton, who we finally found after a year-long search for a doctor who would listen to us. At our last appointment he asked, “What ideas do you have that you think might help James?” When I told him what I’d found in my research, he said, “Great! Let’s try them.” I can’t describe what a gift that is after James’s first doctor told me I was uneducated, uninformed, and that the Internet was dangerous for people like me.
The Facebook community that has grown from those who read my book Speechless blesses me each day. We encourage each other, laugh with each other, and sometimes cry with each other. We live all across the country, but we have the bond of loving someone with autism.
When I change my perspective and see everything as coming from God, the problems don't feel as overwhelming. I can pray, "God, thank you for trusting me with this responsibility. I want to glorify You in everything, including this challenge. I need Your help to not grow resentful, but to see this from Your perspective, as a good and perfect gift."
Sandra Peoples is the author of the e-book, Speechless: Finding God’s Grace in My Son’s Autism. You can learn more about her book and James’s progress on Facebook.
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