Saturday, December 6, 2014

Adversity - 1: "Why Character makes a difference in how we respond"

This is the first of several blog posts on adversity, situations facing us that bring perplexity.

     What do we do or say when a child is born and it's health is not perfect? Let's say, born with Down Syndrome?
     Dr. Barnhouse, who lived three generations ago, was mightily used of the Lord. On one occasion, he preached for a week at a church where the pastor and his wife were expecting the birth of a child. The last night came and the pastor wasn't there. He was attending the birth of his infant baby. However, the child was born with Down Syndrome.
     The pastor immediately came to Dr. Barnhouse asking, "What do I say to my wife? She doesn't know yet."
     Barnhouse showed the pastor these words, "The Lord said to Moses, 'Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?' (Ex 4:11). My friend, Romans 8:28 is at work here. There is something in this event that God is working for good, for you and for the child."
     Returning to the hospital, the wife was distraught, wanting to hold her newborn. The father quoted the verse from the Old Testament and the follow up encouragement from the New Testament, and said, "We are being blessed with a child with a special challenge. You need to know this before they place the baby in your arms." She wept, agonizing but deciding that this was going to be  her "life-long discipleship".
     In the hospital, news spread about the birth. At the switchboard (yes they had switchboards in those years!) the operator listened in as the parents made a call to their friends. She was antagonistic towards Christians and had told her friends, "There's no difference between Christians and anyone else!"
     What she heard changed her mind, because listening to the conversation, she heard, "Mother, God has just blessed us with a Down Syndrome baby. I don't know how we will manage, but we will." The switchboard operator did not hear panic, sobbing or groaning. She had heard that a child with a disability was a "blessing".
    So impressed was she - that she began to spread the word around the hospital. "This is amazing, let me tell you what happened!" By the end of the week, all the nurses and doctors and cleaning personnel in the hospital knew the story.
     The next Sunday came and the church had a record number of visitors: 70 staff members from the hospital. He gave an invitation after recounting the blessing that had come to his home that week, and 30 nurses came forward to receive Jesus Christ.
     The timing of the birth could not be planned in advance, nor the person who was at the switchboard.
     But, the response to the crisis was a choice - a choice of character, of choosing to depend on God.   -   Oh, the family had friendship and support from birth - a group of medical specialists that money and fame could not have bought.


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