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Archive for September, 2011

Our friends, Jan and Mark Lacher, received a new diagnosis for their youngest son recently: Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome.  It is a catastrophic epilepsy with no cure.

Here is a portion of their email, which I am using with Jan’s permission.  Please read it – especially linger over the last paragraph – and marvel at God’s sustaining power in the midst of extraordinary pain:

This diagnosis was difficult to hear.  Even though it is just a label, there is much sorrow in it.  It is difficult to see Michael with his disabilities in ways that other people see him.  I am much more aware of his disabilities when I am out of my home.  I tend to respond to how others respond to Michael and have a heightened awareness of his weaknesses.  That is one of the reasons leaving the home with him is so difficult.  There has to be a great deal of courage to do so.

Typically, when I look at Michael, I really don’t see a person with disabilities.  With great affection,  I see  “Michael–the Fox”–as a person. He can’t do what others can, but he does have a charm about him that is unique to him.  He can be mischievous as many of you have witnessed when he unexpectedly knocks a cup or plate out of your hand; he experiences pure pleasure when eating chocolate pudding or an ice cream sandwich as exemplified by his “mmmm” with each bite; he displays his affection as he rests his head on my shoulder or taps his foot on my thigh; and he belly-laughs when Mark “wrestles” him on the mat.  He seems to recognize my greeting every morning of “this is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  I am beginning to think that achievement is over-rated!

Every day for us continues to be a walk of faith in our Lord–one that looks to Him for what we need–for the strength, for the courage, for the hope, and for the grace to go forward, one step at a time, one day at a time, and frequently, one minute at a time.  The unrelenting nature of Michael’s situation is daunting, but God promises to work this out for our good–to those of us who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)  We know that God’s Word is always, always, always, true.  He never will contradict Himself.  It is not in His nature to do so.   He can be trusted even though we do not understand all that He does.  We rest in that promise.

We welcome any prayers said on our behalf.

Jan L

Please join me in praying for this dear family.

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As God has done many times for me, I was confronted by two contrasting views of God’s sovereignty over just a few hours.  One view was in a memoir by a parent about her child with disabilities; the other was an email from a dear family.

The memoir includes all the things we parents of children with disabilities understand: shock, anger, despair, contemplation, surprise, delight.  But there is a lingering assertion throughout: God, explain yourself in ways that make sense to how I want you to be.

The email from our friends came with news about a new and difficult diagnosis for their child. The options are limited; the side effects of some medications are incredibly hard to bear.  And there was a strong affirmation throughout: God, you are who you say you are, and we trust you.

The contrast was good for me.  One thought hard about experiences.  The other thought hard about scripture, and interpreted the experience in light of God’s word.

There are many things God chooses not to reveal.  But he did reveal the most important thing, the most beautiful thing, the most necessary thing – Jesus.  What God reveals in his word and when he grants us faith in Jesus, we know his goodness and love and mercy and wrath and kindness are so certain we can join with Paul in proclaiming:

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

(Romans 11:33-36 ESV)

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I deeply appreciate Ray Ortland’s blog; he marries beautiful paintings and pictures with words of truth.

His blog yesterday, Sight or blindness?, included an image I actually didn’t like all that much – which is unusual – but the text made me stop to worship!

I’ve included it here in its entirety:

“The prophecies, the very miracles and proofs of our religion, are not of such a nature that they can be said to be absolutely convincing.  But they are also of such a kind that it cannot be said that it is unreasonable to believe them.  Thus there is both evidence and obscurity to enlighten some and confuse others.”

Pascal, Pensées, 8.564.

The Bible is closed to those who are blind, and there are none so blind as those confident in their own understanding.  The Bible is open to those are are open, and there are none so open as those desperate in their need.

To the former, the Bible will be constantly offering up further evidences against itself, and they gloat over it.  To the latter, the Bible will be constantly offering up further evidences against themselves, but they don’t mind, because they see their Savior too.

In both cases, how people experience the Bible reveals the truth about themselves.  But no one defeats the Bible.

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Both videos can also be seen by clicking here and here.

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Since it made the list of upcoming events in the Desiring God National Conference booklet, I’m assuming its ok to make this public!

Lord willing, on November 8, 2012 Desiring God will be hosting a one-day conference on the Bible and disability.

Please be in prayer about all the preparations that must be made.

More than anything, we want this to make much of God – that he is both sovereign AND good over disability, that there is lasting joy in treasuring Jesus above good but tempoary things like health or physical ability, and that we can trust him who made us and who has numbered our days.

More details will be coming over the next several months.

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When Christ is so precious and so satisfying to you that you can count all other things as rubbish by comparison, then weaknesses and insults and hardships and persecutions and calamities cannot touch the core of your contentment.

John Piper, speaking to Desiring God’s Philippian Fellowship, September 23, 2011

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Thank you to Jan Lacher for pointing me to this article by Elizabeth Elliot.

I deeply appreciate Elizabeth Elliot, and this article written in 1989, There Are No Accidents, Says Judy, just adds to my regard for her.  She is writing and quoting her friend, Judy Squier, a woman born without legs.

Some of the words in this article would be considered old-fashioned, but it is worth reading.  It is also very short!

Here’s a sample:

What we judge to be ‘tragic – the most dreaded thing that could happen,’ I expect we’ll one day see as the awesome reason for the beauty and uniqueness of our life and our family.

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On Friday we’re welcoming about 3,000 people to the Minneapolis Convention Center for the Desiring God National Conference.

The topic is on missions – this is a massively important conference!

There are hundreds of millions of people around the world who are disabled – when we add in their families and caretakers, the numbers of people impacted by disability easily exceeds a billion people.

Every culture, every ethnicity, every economic strata, every geo-political entity experiences disability.

They need to know about Jesus and the real God of the Bible.  And they need to know that the health, wealth and prosperity ‘gospel’ is a lie – disability is no sign of disfavor from God nor are they ‘lacking’ faith if God calls them to live with it their entire lives.

As Pastor John has said:

There are only three kinds of Christians when it comes to world missions: zealous goers, zealous senders, and disobedient. May God deliver us from disobedience!

Please pray that God would help everyone at this conference to see him more clearly and understand their role in missions, for his glory and for our good.

 

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Paul woke up in a mess on Wednesday, the kind that demands attention before he can be ready for school.

It was a moment ripe for a ‘why me, Lord’ thought.

God, instead, reminded me of Greg Lucas’ son, who frequently also woke up in a mess.  In his book, Wrestling with an Angel, Greg articulates the road I was going down:

Many mornings I leave Jake’s room dejected, hurt and emotionally drained. (Lucas, p. 22)

But he doesn’t stay there!

The only way to make any sense of this kind of relationship is to experience it through the unconditional love of the Father. (Lucas, p. 23)

Greg then unpacks what that means, in a God-centered, humble, grateful way.

And because Greg told his story about God in the midst of rotten circumstances, I was encouraged to fight my discouragement and run to God in my rotten circumstance.

If you are living in discouragement over disability right now, I highly recommend you buy and read (or read again) Greg’s book.  God is honored in this book, and I know many people personally who have understood their own circumstances differently after reading it.

And if you have a story of God’s goodness – tell it!  We honor God when we give him glory in hard circumstances.  And your story may come back, months or even years later, to encourage a hurting brother or sister.

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I had lunch with some new friends on Tuesday who have an incredible story about their son’s first few days of life – and the resulting disability.

Their combined response: God is good.  In hard things, God is good.  In things that could have been prevented if they had just lived somewhere else, God is good and he is sovereign.  No bitterness, just great seriousness about God.  And both are happy people.

They are pouring their lives into the work of God’s church.  They make God look REALLY big and REALLY glorious!

Pastor John talked about people like that in What Jesus Demands from the World (emphases in bold are mine):

It is a joy that is meek and merciful and pure and peaceable, but these things alone do not awaken people to the glory of God. In order to waken people to consider God as an explanation for our good works there generally must be an obstacle of suffering that would ordinarily cause them to be angry or despairing, but does not have that effect on us. Rather they see us “rejoice” in hardship. They see that this hardship does not make us self-centered and self-pitying and mean-spirited. Instead they see our joy and wonder what we are hoping in when ordinary props for hope have been knocked away. The answer, Jesus says, is that we have great reward in heaven (Matt. 5:12). That is, Jesus has become a treasure for us that is more precious than what the world offers. Therefore, when persecution or calamity take natural pleasures away, we still have Jesus, and we still have joy.  John Piper, What Jesus Demands from the World, p. 358.

I walked away from lunch very encouraged – and wanting to make much of Jesus like that!

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