She and her husband would do anything to save their son, that is, on the condition that “he could have a good quality of life.” Before he was even born he had to meet some stone-hard expectations. When they determined their son wouldn’t measure up, the family pediatrician pronounced the boy’s death sentence: “Termination is a reasonable option, and a reasonable option that I can support.” Two other medical professionals agreed. Not one person spoke up for the little boy, including his “conservative, Catholic father.”
Do you ever forget how dark and cruel and lost you really were before the light of Jesus broke through? Is your first reaction to the sin in others anger? Or is it broken-hearted grief at the stench of death around them?
When I read Judy Nicastro’s opinion piece in The New York Times, “My Abortion, at 23 Weeks,” my first reaction, to be honest, was anger and bitterness. In one of the most influential newspapers in the world, yet another person, this time a mother, was making the case that a life with disabilities is not worth existing. She concluded that it was kind for her to kill her baby boy in her womb, even though she knew it put the other twin at risk for miscarriage.
And then I remembered: she is dead in her sins, and willingly, even if unknowingly, is following a murderer and liar (see Ephesians 2:1–3). Valuing life doesn’t come naturally to a person who is spiritually dead.
Yet the little boy, even if his life was short and very hard, could have been born. This little boy could have been held and loved by his parents. Ms. Nicastro, a self-described irreligious “old-school liberal” described her son as “desperately wanted” and she said the thought of losing him was “unbearable.” So there was common grace at work. The motherly affections embedded in her by God were completely snuffed out. And the signs of rebellious independence from God’s intentional handiwork were also evident (see Psalm 139:13–16). She and her husband would do anything to save their son, that is, on the condition that “he could have a good quality of life.” Before he was even born he had to meet some stone-hard expectations.
When they determined their son wouldn’t measure up, the family pediatrician pronounced the boy’s death sentence: “Termination is a reasonable option, and a reasonable option that I can support.” Two other medical professionals agreed. Not one person spoke up for the little boy, including his “conservative, Catholic father.”
So Much Against the Little Ones
There is so much active opposition to little humans with disabilities being allowed to breathe the air we do and feel the comfort of their parents’ arms. The New York Times regularly uses its leadership position to support abortion throughout a pregnancy. The President of the United States has refused to even discuss the recent House of Representatives bill that would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks. He called state Senator Wendy Davis’ remarkable energy for more abortions in Texas “something special.” Various courts in other states have already struck down state laws that would protect unborn life after 20 weeks.
Add to these facts the innumerable quiet conversations that are happening all around the world about how horrible it must be to live with a disability, or so people venture to imagine, many of whom have never spoken to a real person affected by disability. How many doctors are privately sharing their disdain for unborn babies through their so-called compassionate words about preventing suffering? It is all so very sad.
It is too easy to become cynical and calloused, to conclude that we can do nothing because the trajectory in the culture and in our laws is so against the lives of those with disabilities.
Remembering Our Hope
We don’t have to despair. We must be guided by Someone and something greater as we seek to save the little ones and serve their parents. We must hope in the one who made us and sustains us.
Because of Jesus, we know that someday abortion (and all other evil) will end and all things will be made new (Revelation 21:1–7).
Because of Jesus, we know that spiritually dead people can become alive (Ephesians 2:4–10).
Because of Jesus, we know that suffering leads to joy (Hebrews 12:1–2).
Because of Jesus, we know that all our sins and all our unrighteousness can be forgiven (1 John 1:9).
Because of Jesus, we can love the enemies of unborn children and do good to them, especially in telling them about this Jesus (Luke 6:35)!
Nobody is denying that this life of parenting a child with disabilities is hard; that would be foolish and wrong. And nobody should think that once the child is born that parents universally understand they made the right decision. Sentimentality about children changes nothing. But God uses these children and their stories to bring life to spiritually dead people. That is my story. I was dead in my sins until God crushed me through the crucible of disability and suffering, and he proved himself good and worthy.
Tell the Good News
So today is the day to tell stories to people who won’t understand them, indeed, cannot understand them, not until God gives them life. They should know about the God who creates boys with disabilities like my son, and how glad I am that God made him a part of my life and family and church. And they should hear from dads who trusted God when their boys and girls died very young, like this father in Australia.
We must make evident that God is good and sovereign over all things. The church has an unusual opportunity to make much of God almost everywhere in the world by how we respond to disability.
I easily get angry when I read opinion pieces about the necessity of abortion, and I too frequently direct that anger at the wrong things. Sin and Satan are the real enemies of the boy who was aborted by his mother. And Jesus came to both destroy the works of Satan and save sinners, including sinners like me, and mothers who abort their children. We have good news to tell! May God give you the privilege today to speak of our good and powerful King Jesus, who brings life and hope and joy, even in the hardest of circumstances.
John Knight is Director of Development at Desiring God. He is married to Dianne and together they parent their four children: Paul, Hannah, Daniel, and Johnny. Paul lives with multiple disabilities including blindness, autism, cognitive impairments and a seizure disorder. John blogs on issues of disability, the Bible, and the church at The Works of God.This article is used with permission.