”And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ―Romans 8:28, NIV

“God only gives special needs children to special parents.”

Many families with special needs children have been on the receiving end of these words as well-meaning friends grapple for something—anything encouraging to say in the face of circumstances perceived as tragic. Parents trying to make sense of their heartache want to believe this platitude and in desperation buy into its fallacy.

The heartbreaking reality is that scores of special needs children are born to parents who neglect and abuse them or are mentally or physically incapable of caring for them. Furthermore, parents of special needs children soon realize they simply aren’t “special enough” to overcome the challenges that lie ahead. No one—no one is equipped to handle the challenges of rearing a special needs child (or any child) in and of themselves.

If God gives special needs children to parents who aren’t equipped to handle them, what must he be thinking? What does he hope to accomplish through something that seems so callous and unjust?

In my despair, I wrestled with the reality of our daughter’s condition. Doesn’t Scripture say, “If you hard-hearted, sinful men know how to give good gifts to your children, won’t your Father in heaven even more certainly give good gifts to those who ask him for them?” (Matthew 7:9–11, NLT).

Though I cringe to recall it, from deep within my desperation and fear, I hurled a defiant fist of hopeless accusation and resentment at God. It would’ve been better for our child to have died than for her to live with the challenges she’ll face. What sort of God allows the affliction of one so innocent? In time, my answer came.

The words of Romans 8:28-29 became my lifeline. They reveal the ability of a Sovereign God to take a perceived tragedy and transform it into a beautiful gift―a gift that changes the lives of those to whom it is given. God was tenderly molding us into the image of his Son. Along with this tiny parcel wrapped in pink came a contagious love tied with our growing awareness of God’s unshakeable presence and his desire for us to know him and experience his ways.

No. Special needs children aren’t given to special parents. God blesses us with our children so that we will exalt the Giver of all good and perfect gifts. The tragedy comes when we miss his point―the birth of a special needs child is a ”special delivery” indeed!

Now it’s your turn to get down. Have you experienced something you first perceived as tragic but later saw as a gift?

I always welcome your comments.

Keep your sunny side up!

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