I've been told my son has a behavioural condition which severely hinders his ability to communicate with others, writes Gabriel Kastrup. Yet despite this distressing news, I know I've been blessed: as Christians it is important to look for the blessings in all situations because they are there, just waiting to be seen.
I am a person who often struggles with the concept of thinking positively. It’s a lifelong habit I have cultivated over the years from childhood and when you speak to my parents it isn’t difficult to see where I get it from. My parents are kind people but they enjoy a good moan on a regular basis.
In an attempt to curtail my negativity I have been trying to cultivate the habit of looking for blessings in everyday life. A blessing is defined as ‘God’s favour and protection’ and I am trying to be more mindful of the presence of God’s blessings every day, even in unpleasant or distressing situations. I found my new resolve strongly tested very soon after starting.
A few days ago I was told that my five year old son has been assessed at his school and he is on the autistic spectrum. Although my wife and I suspected he had some kind of issue it still came as a shock to us. In simple terms we have been told our son has a behavioural condition which severely hinders his ability to communicate with others, to understand social norms and to form close friendships and bonds. He was born with this condition and he will have it for the rest of his life. Despite this distressing news I still believe we have been blessed.
Yes, we have been blessed; despite this bad news I have been able to find God’s presence in the situation and understand that it could be much worse. We are blessed because my son has been diagnosed early in his life when intervention by his school and support services will benefit him tremendously. Blessed because we have a loving, supportive family and church community who pray for him.
Blessed because we live in the UK in the 21st century where knowledge of autism is widespread, schools are prepared and charities provide guidance and help but, most of all, we are blessed because our son is a wonderful, happy child who I wouldn’t change for the world. Not one bit.
There isn’t a person in the world, Christian or otherwise, who hasn’t experienced bad situations or news which upsets them. It is part of life, part of human experience to feel sorrow and pain but the important thing is how we deal with it. Jesus tells us repeatedly throughout the Bible not to despair in times of difficultly but to pray about it and for good reason. We should always trust that God is there for us through thick and thin. When we are weighed down by sorrow or worry it is not always easy to focus on God and what he is saying through the challenges we face. As Christians it is important to look for the blessings in all situations because they are there, just waiting to be seen.
Even in our darkest moments God never leaves us. Challenges and difficulties can strengthen us, if not physically then certainly spiritually.
Of course I realise that it is my son, not me, who suffers the most in this situation. Like us all he will have to face great difficulties in life but he does so with an extra burden.
I know there will be times when he will not feel blessed at all. He must build faith, strength of character and courage to overcome and step out into a world that can sometimes be cruel and uncaring.
I know with God’s love there is nothing my son cannot achieve. There is nothing any of us cannot achieve through God and this is something we should always remember.
So please, count your blessings, and when something horrible happens and you feel upset try to think of the ways it could be worse... and then thank God for his mercy which he undoubtedly extends to all of us.
Gabriel Kastrup works for the police and attends a Baptist church. He writes under a pseudonym
Picture credit: Scottsnyde/RGB Stock