Parenting a Disabled Child by Faith

By Donna Donnelly

As a mother of a 26-year-old son with autism and a developmental disability, there has been both joy and pain. When my husband and I first received the news of David’s disability, there was disappointment and questions. While it is important to search out Scripture in order to have a solid theology specific to disability and suffering, my greatest need was comfort for my heart.

Along this journey, there have been times that have been hard to bear, such as when David has been upset and crying, not allowing me to console him. I have been left only to guess and surmise what could be the problem. I now turn to Christ and the God of all comfort who meets me wholly and completely. I like how Randy Alcorn puts it, “At times, each of us must snuggle into our Father’s arms, like children, and there receive the comfort we need. God doesn’t just offer us advice, he offers us companionship. He doesn’t promise we won’t face hardship, but he does promise he’ll walk with us through our hardship.”

God is with us and he is faithful! In recent years, it has been a joy to see the spiritual and emotional growth in our son. We believe he has his own unique relationship with God (He has broken through the barrier of David’s disability!). One of the things David likes most is to listen to worship music. It is evident that he experiences great joy in spite of challenges. David also enjoys rich fellowship with his brothers and sisters in Christ. He has been changed by this acceptance and love. This was most apparent when our family was asked to participate at one of the morning services a couple of years ago by sharing Scripture, lighting the advent candle, and prayer. David seemed to stand a little taller that day.

Through the ups and downs of this life, it has been a joy to be David’s mom. As my husband and I have become older, we are faced with the reality of planning for David’s future, although it is hard to think past our existence here on earth. There are questions and fears. We find great comfort in knowing that God loves David with a greater love than our own and he has a good plan for David’s life. We may never find out all the answers on this side of heaven, but we can trust God knowing that he loves us deeply.