When I imagined myself a father, a big thing I imagined was helping him to learn how to drive.
The day I turned 15 I started looking forward to drivers education class. And the day I turned 16 my mother took me to the drivers examination office, where I earned that precious right to drive all by myself.
That was a big deal for me as a young man, and I enjoyed the thought of helping my future son take this giant step toward independence.
Today my boy turns 16. I’ve known for 16 years that my blind boy wouldn’t be able to drive. He isn’t even big enough to reach the pedels. And if he could see and was big enough, his cognitive disabilities and autism and strange seizure-like disorder would prevent him from driving.
It might seem silly given everything else, but I’m sad about not having that rite of passage with my oldest son.
Yet, God has kindly made me ready for this day:
- More veteran parents than I am have warned that the seasons of sadness will still come. Sometimes they come at unexpected times. Sometimes we can prepare. I knew this would be one of those times I should prepare.
- My Jesus understands, because he experienced sorrow: Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38).
- My Jesus loves me, covers my sins and helps me turn from sin, including sinful temptations to doubt his goodness in my suffering: To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood (Revelation 1:5).
- This sorrow has a greater, joyful purpose ahead: For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17).
- God knows my days and my son’s days: In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them (Psalm 139:16).
- God has good plans for my son and myself: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
- My son has been the means by which God has revealed himself as of greater worth than anything, including raising a ‘normal’ boy.
I still feel that sorrow about my son’s disabilities today; I expect that tears will come. But just writing the above list has reminded me that ‘no good thing does he withhold’ (Psalm 84:11). God is awesome in his love and his power and his mercy!
So let us embrace whatever sorrow God appoints for us. Let us not be ashamed of tears. Let the promise that joy comes with the morning (Psalm 30:5) sustain and shape our grief with the power and goodness of God.
I believe that promise! I have experienced little tastes of that promise already.
Someday, both Paul and I will experience a different rite of passage, and it is impossible to say who will lead whom. Either Jesus will return, or we will go to him.
And we will experience something entirely new!
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:4-5
And that is why I can and will celebrate my son’s birth today, ‘as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing’ (2 Corinthians 6:10).
Happy birthday, son!