Having interviewed Andrew a number of times in his capacity as a theologian, it was a revealing portrait of the complexity of the real-life family circumstances behind his professional career. In this issue, Rachel and Andrew write for us about some of the lessons they’ve learned (and are learning) as they bring up children with special needs.
Please don’t be tempted to skip the article, assuming it’s aimed only at parents in similar circumstances. The lessons learned about healing, trusting in God and coping with mystery are applicable to anybody who has ever been delivered life circumstances that they weren’t expecting – which probably includes most of us.
Significantly, many plans and ambitions had to be surrendered by the couple in order to accommodate the reality of parenting children with special needs. The world has a habit of telling us that our value depends on the success we achieve in the public eye. Small, everyday acts of commitment and sacrifice rarely feature in the news. Yet, Andrew and Rachel’s story reminds us of the kind of success that God is interested in (read our review of the book).
That theme carries on in Sheridan Voysey’s article, ‘Jesus-Shaped Resilience’. Again, the story behind the man in Sheridan’s case is one of being delivered an unexpected life – he and his wife were unable to conceive children, leading them to move from their native Australia to the UK in search of new dreams.
Drawing on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Sheridan delivers brilliantly practical advice for the person who is facing pain, suffering or disappointment. Raising a family (with or without special needs), or learning to build a life without a long hoped-for family can be hard work sometimes. But, as Jesus often reminds us in his parables, anything worth having is worth investing into.
In the process we learn that Christian faith does not provide an umbrella to shield us from the unexpected squalls of wind and rain that life brings, but nevertheless, Jesus Christ provides a solid rock from which we can weather those storms.