A friend of mine has a son with a lesser-known form of cerebral palsy. Cerebral Palsy is a disease that affects body movements and muscle coordination for those who aren’t familiar with it. It’s usually caused by brain injury or when abnormalities happen while a child’s brain is still being developed. Such damage affects the centres of the brain that control motor skills, often causing the sufferer to move with extreme difficulty and lack coordination.
My friend’s son was born with it. An innocent victim of this random lottery called nature. Unfortunately, in our part of the world, parents with disabled children are sometimes considered to be cursed by society (and often by themselves). They look at their innocent children, and all they see is a lifetime of stress, pain, and endless hospital trips. They scan their previous lives in search of that one moment when they must have done something so terrible to offend the gods and invite such punishment.
My friend, however, is different. You should see her with her little boy. You would think he was The Messiah. She treats him with so much love, so much care. To her, he is the greatest gift a mother could ever have asked for. But, unfortunately, his condition requires that he be sent to an expensive school equipped to cater for his unique requirements; his medical care demands unimaginable resources, and a great deal of personal attention, support, reassurance, and protection must be given him, above and beyond what would be expected from the parents of other children.
In a recent conversation with my friend, she told me about some therapy that might help him learn how to use the undamaged parts of his brain to control his movement better. Unfortunately, the therapy could take years and would cost a fortune. I was naturally worried for my friend, but she oddly wasn’t. I wondered how she could afford such equanimity. “It’s not been easy”, she said, “but having my son has taught me gratitude”.
Gratitude? That, I confess, was not the lesson I thought she would be learning from the challenging parenting role assigned her by fate. Perseverance may be resilience, fortitude, endurance, patience, tolerance, time management – anything but gratitude. So she explained.
You see, to my friend, none of this was an accident. No lottery of life had accidentally handed her a physically challenged child. This was not chance or coincidence. To her, God looked across the globe at the billions of mothers and chose her as the only one capable of raising a child that special.
Every time she looks at her adorable little boy, she is grateful that he wasn’t given to some other parent who would have considered him a curse, some other parents who would have locked him away from the world to hide their shame, some other parents who may not have had the physical, emotional or even financial strength to give this boy the best chance in life.
No, to her, what many mothers would have considered a curse was actually a divine vote of confidence from God. There could be no clearer message from her Maker that He believed in her than this lifelong assignment to care for one of His most special creations.
My dear friend, what is your “curse”? What is that constant disadvantage that makes you look up into the sky and scream, “Why me, Lord”? Is it a nagging wife? A disobedient child?A car that always breaks down? A boss who hates you? A boss who likes you a little too much? A salary that doesn’t even cover your basic needs? Or maybe you’re overweight. Maybe you hate your pot-belly, your short legs, or you wish you could grow enough hair to tie in a ponytail. Whatever burden of disadvantage you feel in your life, I wonder if you’ve ever paused for a moment to actually try and answer the question you’ve been asking yourself all this time: why you?
God does not make mistakes. He doesn’t. If you’re a Christian, take a moment, dust off your Bible, and have a glance at 1 Corinthians 10:13.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tested beyond what you can bear. But when you are tested, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”.
Imagine that. This thing, this problem, this curse that has you at your wit’s end, is only happening to you because God first gave you the ability to handle it. When seeking someone to solve the problem, He looked at his almost 7 billion human creations and thought: this son, this daughter of mine; they’re strong enough, they’re smart enough, they’re patient enough, they’re brave enough to handle this. Isn’t that the greatest vote of confidence you could ever be given? Isn’t this a perfect reason to be grateful for your challenges?
My dear friend, Today, let’s take a chance to change one thing about ourselves – so here’s what we’re going to do differently: we’re going to look at our problems, our challenges, our curses, and understand that we alone are uniquely qualified to deal with them. Then we’re going to thank God for believing in us. And finally, we’re NOT going to let Him down.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and only I can do this. So I’d better get started.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!
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