Shortly after we had received Lew’s diagnosis, I heard a story that has continued to be one of the most helpful things in my attempts to come to grips with Lew’s disabilities and my pain.Lew was less than a year old.We had only had his diagnosis for a few months.Bob and I were sitting in the balcony of Calvary Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky listening to the pastor, Dan Cooper, when he told this story:
A Chinese Christian pastor was arrested by the Communists and put in prison.He was held for twenty years.Much of his time was spent in solitary confinement.He often had only bread and water to eat.Finally he was released.People who had known him before who saw him were amazed.There was not an ounce of fat on him, of course, but his general health was pretty good.What they noticed more than that, however, was that his spirit practically glowed.“How can this be?” they asked.“You’ve been through this terrible ordeal and yet your spirit isn’t broken; it seems stronger than before.How could this happen?”The pastor replied,
“I remembered in the darkness what God taught me in the light.”
Years later I told Rev. Cooper how significant this story had been for me.He didn’t even remember it.For him it was an illustration he had come across that he realized fit into his particular sermon.For me it was a hopeful glimmer of sunlight in my darkness.Even though the sun was streaming through the stained glass that morning, I was sitting in darkness.This story assured me that people could get through hard things and God would be there beside them.
I have come to understand that this story would not have the same impact on someone who hadn’t known God’s love in their past.I had, however, already had experiences with God’s presence in my life.My belief in God’s existence and personal experience of God’s love were unshaken by Lew’s disabilities but there were times of incredible sadness and confusion. This story reminded me to spend time revisiting those things I had learned from God prior to Lew’s birth and diagnosis and not to get stuck in the darkness.Lew and I were not alone.