Romans 15:4 provides the believer immense hope. We can overcome suffering, be taught endurance through the scriptures and find hope.
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” – Romans 15:4
Sometime after Jordyn died, our son had a music program at his elementary school. It was a tough atmosphere for him on a good day, given the number of people, the stimulus overload, and music, which either positively impacted him or garnered an explosive reaction. Roll the dice. We had a plan A, a plan B, and a “Get him out as fast as we can” plan.
With the precision of a military operation, we walked perfectly timed to meet his teacher, who took him straight to the stage. She was armed with a card that said, “Sing first, then home.” It worked. He walked up, and I guess you could say he participated. He rocked back and forth with no part of his body bending, stiff as a board—sort of like me when I dance.
We Might Just Make It Out
As we stood there in the back of the room, I noticed my wife smiling. Aly was smiling. I was smiling. Korbin was tolerating it, but that was a victory. It was the first time we had done anything outside of our house with all of us. It was the first moment that it occurred to me that we might make it out of the mud.
On the way home that night, Korbin got to pick where we ate. He chose “Rice,” which meant Chinese food from The Mall. We headed home when one of us said, “I wonder if God let’s Jordyn see?” Rhetorical questions have a way of lingering. At the dinner table that night, Korbin opened his fortune cookie and was greeted with the words, “Someone is watching from afar.”
You can call it coincidence if you want. I find it striking how hard some work to explain away God. That was a God-sized wink to a family that needed it. Any part of Jordyn manifested into a current moment is a gift.
We had another one of those this weekend. Korbin participated in his first Special Olympics. He was entered into the Skills Competition. To say that Korbin has little interest in sports is a colossal understatement. He was nervous, maybe intimidated. But as he has done countless times before, he blew us away. He did a speed dribbling contest, and I was shocked by how fast he could double dribble a basketball.
I started to think about my effort in sports. This was the first time he was playing in front of a crowd—the first time to compete against another human. Korbin was nervous. Emotions are faster. His first bounce pass had so much energy it almost came back to hit him in the face.
Fortunately, he caught it. Aly told me if that had hit him, she was going to leave. Show over. It all occurred with his favorite five people watching him from the bleachers with pride, maybe a sixth from afar.
I was torn this week about whether to write about Special Olympics or encouragement before realizing that it is the same topic. Within our immediate circle of family and friends, we see some dealing with job stress, anxiety, depression, marriage issues, addiction, loneliness, health issues, financial struggle, and fear of failure within a child’s breadth of outrageous joy. We see all of it; keep going. We were learning to overcome suffering and trusting God’s providence.
I’ve got four sisters who have all been through a lot. One, in particular, takes on the emotional pain or struggle of literally every person in her life and willingly carries it to God for them. Relentlessly. She prays for my family every day. Her husband is also one of the best men I know. The two of them are unique.
All of us struggle with something. I don’t get “Evangelically Pissed” very often, but I do when anyone tries to say anything in this neighborhood – “If your faith is strong enough, you won’t have such struggle.” Such a position is not supported within the bible, and I will challenge anyone to that conversation. Start with Jesus being crucified. Then tell me that I have not prayed earnestly enough to rid my son of autism or my family from the sting of death. My faith is strong enough to help me through it, not weak enough to cause it.
I have no answers for the person who is in the midst of the fiercest battle they will ever face. I watch my wife and kids, who are over ten years into that fight, and I realize now that merely getting out of bed is worthy of a gold medal on some days. I watched Korbin conquer about five of his worst fears, all occurring at the same time. It was freaking fantastic. It’s not easy. To overcome suffering takes endurance.
Some people do give up. Most people do not. You may be astonished at your resolve, your faith, and your peace. You may help some people on purpose, but I am convinced that, for the most part, none of us realize the impact we have on others around us. I am also convinced that God uses it all, even the struggles. Be encouraged and be encouraging. Your crap may be helping more people than you think. Keep up the excellent work.