A Way Through the Storm

When my son Lucas was born with severe disabilities, my life was thrown into an emotional tempest.

Our morning was off to a routine start as Lucas and I drove to one of the many medical facilities that provided him care and therapy. Lucas, still an infant, was asleep in his car seat. In the quiet of my mind, I began to consider the mental, emotional and physical turns my life had taken since Lucas' birth.

Lucas was born with severe brain deformities. He will never walk and, unless there is a miracle, he will never talk. I grieved for the child we had hoped for. I never planned on a child with so many problems and never envisioned the kind of lifestyle that Lucas brought with him. It hadn't been long before I began viewing myself as the mother of a disabled child, as if it were the most defining thing about my life.

I had so much to learn in such a short I time. Overnight, my husband, Bob, and I were I expected to know a flood of medical terms and procedures. We began learning about individual education plans, interventions and processes I had not heard of before.

Bob was the primary breadwinner and still getting established in his career. Having a child with severe disabilities was a new financial stress, one that included insurance deductibles and co-pays, travel for medical appointments, and hospitalizations that led to hotel and restaurant bills.

At home, meanwhile, it was go, go, go. Even when Lucas felt well, which wasn't often, he would wake up several times a night. When he was sick, I either bedded down in his room beside the crib or just held him in my arms while trying to catch a few moments of sleep in the recliner. I feared that exhaustion would become my permanent condition.

As I drove along the highway, an emotional storm began to brew. Why my child?

Why my family? How am I going to keep doing this? On and on the questions pounded, and my feelings of grief, helplessness and fear were met with no relief.

Before God could make His purpose clear to me, I had to stop fighting my circumstances, stop trying to change them and simply submit to His will. I had to trust that His plan was much better than mine.

Romans 8:26 says, "We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." If the truth of that verse ever applied to me, it was at that moment. In the midst of turmoil, God answered a prayer I didn't even know how to pray by sending His Spirit to minister to me. I had never experienced anything like it.

God shifted my focus; for the first time in months, I recognized what was right with my life. My circumstances had not changed during the 50-minute drive, but my feelings of loss were replaced with an attitude of abundance.

Without a doubt, the healing touch of God was at work within me, and if I had ever doubted His transforming power, I never would again. But before God could make His purpose clear to me, I had to stop fighting my circumstances, stop trying to change them and simply submit to His will. I had to trust that His plan was much better than mine.

I will always treasure the moments Bob and I shared later that evening. For the first time, we talked — really talked — about the presence of Lucas in our lives, and we began to grasp the idea that God was going to turn something that seemed tragic into something beautiful. We found our bearings. We found new purpose and new meaning. Most important, we began to trust.

Lucas was not healed; life did not become easy. But through medical emergencies, sleepless nights, disappointments and separations, the peace that surpasses all understanding prevails when I remember the day God calmed my storm.

The journey has been different than what I imagined when I first learned we were expecting our third child. But I know now that God's plan is perfect even when my circumstances aren't.

God is waiting for us to cry out to Him in our pain and fear. He desperately wants us to seek Him in the midst of our storm so He can prove himself faithful. There is no judgment. There is no condemnation. There is simply grace and hope and the wonderful knowledge that we can trust Him completely.

Excerpted from Light from Lucas, a Focus on the Family book
published by Tyndale House Publishers.
Copyright © 2007, Bob Vander Plaats.
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.