7 1/2 years ago, my wife and I adopted a little boy, 18 months old, who was diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome. In the time he has been part of our family, he has brought lots of joy but at the same time it has not been easy, especially once he reached school age and with it came the diagnosis of ADHD and possibly one of autism is soon to come.
Whilst our experience is different in many ways to other families with children with disabilities and special needs, in some ways they are similar, and so it was helpful to have read The Life We Never Expected by Andrew and Rachel Wilson, parents of two children with regressive autism.
When I say, read, I mean cried, smiled and laughed through, because there was much of this outstanding book that resonated and were ‘Me, too!’ moments.
There’s much to commend in this book.
Andrew’s meditation on Psalm 130 and what we do with suffering. is so helpful that I’ve already shared it with others in the church.
The orange illustration.
Why Malchijah should be one of your heroes.
[You’ll have to read the book to find out what these are].
Their honesty about the sacrifices they’ve had to make.
The reflections on healing. “We pray for healing. We believe God can heal our children. And we trust him when he doesn’t, knowing that one day he will.”
Their advice about what to say when friends or their children are hit by disabilities. “That is so hard, and I am so sorry.”
And above all the reminder that in the midst of the difficulties and struggles, children are still a blessing, God is still good and we have so much to be thankful for.
At the start of the book the Wilsons’ said they wrote this book with three types of people in mind: to encourage parents with disabled children to hold onto Christ a little bit tighter; to help friends and families of those raising children with special needs understand some of what they are going through; and anyone who is suffering because the way God calls them to respond will be similar – this makes this a book for everyone, and it really is.
I can’t recommend The Life We Never Expected enough.
Thank you Andrew and Rachel for sharing your story and encouraging other Christian parents of children with special needs by pointing to the hope found in Jesus and by reminding them ultimately of how the story ends. “No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make his blessings flow, Far as the curse is found.”
Thank you Crossway for providing a free copy of this book through Beyond the Page.