One statement parents of medically complex or special needs children hear often is this: “God designed your baby this way for a reason.” And while the concept that God is sovereign and has a purpose for that child is a comfort, something in that thought seems discordant. Did God create a child with pain and sickness, with mental or physical handicaps, knowing the depth of anguish that would cause? Did he design my baby to lie in his hospital bed, flailing his tiny arms as he struggled to pull air through his delicate airway? Something in that seems so wrong. So hurtful. In the conflict caused by that thought, I could begin to wonder if the God I claim to trust is really worthy of my trust. Did he create this pain for me and my baby?
The first chapter of the Bible describes the creative act of God, by which he brought into existence everything that now is. At every phase of creation, God pronounced it good. He, the ultimate standard of beauty, could look on his world and say “This is good!” There was no ugliness, no pain, no agony. Not one of God’s creatures was malformed. The entire world worked as it ought, in perfect harmony.
And then, through the agency of the fallen archangel Lucifer, sin was introduced to that perfect world. Adam and Eve rejected the beauty of God’s design, taking what he had forbidden. What was beautiful was now marred. What was peaceful was now harsh. What was lovely was now misshapen. And until the end of the world, it will continue to be so.
That could have been the end of the story. Pain and suffering that afflict the entire world, to no ultimate purpose. The consequence of sin staining every aspect of life, with no hope of relief.
But God is the Redeemer.
He looked upon what is hideous and said “I will make it beautiful.” In his kindness and love he takes what has been destroyed by Satan and remakes it into a beautiful testimony of his grace. He has done it all through history, with no greater example than that of the death of his own Son. Jesus hung naked on a cross, mocked and ridiculed. His body was torn and beaten so severely that he hardly looked human. And yet, his hoarse voice cried out “Forgive.” And the beautiful grace of God redeemed the cruelty of mankind to bring about the salvation of mankind. Because of that great act of sovereign redemption, we have confidence that one day, all things will be made beautiful again.
My child is not malformed because God made him that way, but because of the effects of sin on the world. His physical struggles are not beautiful. But God will take what is ugly, what is painful, and redeem it. He will take what seems senseless and use it for a greater purpose than our feeble minds can fathom. He did not create the ugliness in this world, but his over-abundant grace is powerful enough to redeem all of it.
Sin may destroy, but God is able to restore.