This weekend I volunteered at Friday Kids Respite again. This time, however, I got a little boy named Charlie. I read his binder and it turns out Charlie is autistic and has epilepsy, and after playing with him for a little while, I learned that he also has an incredibly short attention span. The moment his dad put him down, Charlie started running. He probably went from inside to the backyard to inside again about eight times within the first half hour.
About an hour into playing, however, Charlie had a seizure. His head suddenly jerked down in between his knees, his body tensed up, and his eyes rapidly flickered back and forth. The seizure only lasted about 25 seconds, but during that time, as I watched the nurse take care of him, I remember myself asking God, "Why did you give this beautiful little boy such a terrible disease?" Charlie didn't play for the rest of the night. The seizure had completely wiped him out. I have to say, I was confused why such things happen, why God afflicts innocent people with such ugly trials. Later, however, Charlie's mom came to pick him up, and it made me remember why. I could see that his mom loved him very, very much, and it reminded me of my own family, and the experiences we've had with my sister who is deaf. My sister has had to overcome some significant challenges recently due to her hearing loss, and I realized what a role her own trial has played in the lives of others, and in bringing my family together. We pray together for her, we fast together for her, and her life's trials have humbled our family like nothing else could. I truly believe my relationships with my family members would be radically different if not for the trials my sister faces, and the challenges they pose for the rest of us. I am truly thankful for the way she has touched our family, instilled more love in our hearts, and blessed the lives of anyone she encounters.
In John 11, there is the story of how Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. When Lazarus became sick, "his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby" (3-4). Jesus went on to perform a miracle--bringing Lazarus back from the dead, and strengthening the testimonies of those who were present.
I want to serve as a first-hand witness of the fact that God knows what He's doing when He gives people trials. I have seen how trials have been used "for the glory of God" and Christ. Charlie and my sister have touched my life. And I know that they have touched the lives of many others. They've made me a better person, and they've helped me understand, once again, that the purpose of this life is to grow and progress and return to our Heavenly Father.