Hello. I have had years of “severe” trials raising a son with special needs. He has autism. Of course he brings joy and perfect love to our home and is really fun. I can’t ignore the difficulty I cope with daily. It is constantly stressful and many things are impacted by his condition. I have felt at times like i really hope/for believe in a miracle of healing for him, but realistically (and my husband is a realist) his point of view is he will never heal. How can I exercise any faith?
Healing is a real thing. Miracles are a real thing. So you are right about that. But from our limited, mortal perspective, we do not see all things. In fact, we are often blind to the important parts of life.
I know a couple that I consider to be close friends. The husband, whom I’ll call Jack, is moderately autistic. Jack holds an advanced degree and has a deep background of knowledge. He is one of the most intelligent and insightful men I know. His understanding of scripture and his “feel” for scriptural context and meaning is uncanny. He writes fascinating papers on topics such as various aspects of Nephite society, with almost miraculous-seeming insights into how such a society might have worked. He is extremely friendly and is well-liked by all who know him. Yet for all this, he is largely unable to function in a regular work environment or hold down a 9-to-5 job. Jack’s wife once told me, “I used to think there was something wrong with Jack. I was praying about him one day, and God told me, ‘Jack is not broken; you don’t need to fix him.’ That changed the way I thought about Jack.”
As you look at your son, consider the example of Jack. You see autism as a disability. Is it? You and I could sit down and list out pages of convincing reasons why autism is a disorder and is something bad. But is that how God sees things? Does he look at your son and think, “There is a disabled young man who doesn’t function properly”? Or does he look at your son and think, “There is my son, with the unique gifts and challenges I gave him for his benefit and for the benefit of his family”? I am in no position to speak for God in this, but I would guess that God’s thoughts probably tend more toward the latter.
What do we have faith in, Maria? Do we have faith in the idea that things will get better? That our loved ones will be healed from the disabilities that we think they have? Such an attitude is more akin to hope than to faith. Or do we instead have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ? Because if we do, that means that we seek his will, not our own. As Joseph Smith taught, faith is a principle of action. Having faith means taking action. What actions are you taking for (and with) your son, not just for day-to-day survival but with an eye toward the future?
During his mortal ministry, our Lord healed the sick and even brought the dead back to life. This was his mission, for the Lord of life to bring life to his people. But note something: Later on, after living however long they lived, those same people who were healed and brought back to life died anyway. Why? Because that is the nature of our lives here in mortality. We live in an intentionally imperfect world, created for us so that we can be imperfect and still approach God, and through our imperfections learn humility and faith in him. And then, when we have struggled and striven and proven ourselves to God (and to ourselves), we go home. Things are not perfect here because they are not supposed to be perfect. Rather, we are supposed to be perfect, in eternity if not today. This day is a day of learning and repentance.
In the end, in this life or in the life to come, your son will be made whole. I strongly suspect that what your son will look like in the perfect day won’t bear much resemblance to what you’re thinking. I rather suspect his glory and beauty will be beyond compare, far beyond your reckoning. In that day, you will perhaps see that many of the things you thought of as your son’s trials and imperfections were not what you thought they were.
Allow God to change your perspective, dear Maria. Ask him what you should do for your son, then press forward with faith. You may find that your son is not broken in the way you think he is.
May our Father bless you in your efforts to bless your son, who is also His son.