“Whether you know it or not, people are watching you.”
Those words in a sermon from my pastor have resonated with me for years. We parents raising children with special needs are sadly accustomed to uncomfortable stares or looks of disdain directed at our cherished children. It may be painful to endure the gawking of others, but it also gives us a unique platform to reach others.
In American culture, it seems too often that people we observe turn out to be huge hypocrites. Who of us cannot recall a politician who claimed to be fighting on behalf of citizens, while acting to harm the citizenry behind closed doors. How many shamed pastors have been revealed to us over the years? Think of the movie stars that decry big money while sheltering theirs overseas.
Those of us raising children with special needs, doing the dirty work of life, relying on God all the way, can provide a tangible counterbalance to these cultural disappointments.
When we proclaim with our mouths that there is a God in heaven who is bigger and better than life’s worst problems, we affirm our beliefs as we smile through the tears.
Our perseverance through the toughest of circumstances helps others to see that there is Someone there helping us hang on, beyond what we could ever endure by our own power. The undying hope that Jesus alone provides shines through us when the world thinks the average person should be throwing in the towel out of utter despair.
Although we may feel we do it with extreme imperfection, our lives can be a testimony to the absolute truth of the Gospel message: Jesus was humbly born for us; He died to take the punishment for our sins; He conquered that death, rising again; In light of all this, we have boundless hope both here and in eternity because He calls us His own. It’s that simple and that profound. Because the world watches us thinking we should have every reason to be bitter, hopeless, angry, and entitled, they stop to notice when we are not. The typical find it very atypical to be an overcomer when we are an under-goer of some of life’s greatest challenges.
Peter challenges us in one of his letters to the early church.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV)
Because our children face incredible trials, perhaps we have more opportunities to give that reason for the hope we have in our hearts. And when we continue getting back up in faith after we have been knocked down, those watching and asking get that extra boost, seeing us live out what we say we believe.
It may feel like a booby prize at times, but our living example is a pretty incredible opportunity to demonstrate that there truly are people who believe what they say!
Has anyone ever asked YOU how you stay so upbeat? What do you tell them?
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