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Joshua’s Work

Ever catch yourself worrying over schedules, grades, and expectations for your child? Diane Brown eloquently shares some lessons about the goals that really matter—not the ones she taught, but the ones her son taught her.

I was reminded in a sermon recently that children—even special needs children—have a work to do for God. Our family personally experienced that truth.

In the middle of April, Joshua, our twelve-year-old son with Down Syndrome, was hospitalized. The initial diagnosis was that a virus had attacked his heart and affected other systems. Joshua saw numerous specialists, and on the fifth day he was flown to a medical university four hours away. We prayed fervently for Joshua and for the Lord’s will to be done in his life.

At first we thought that God had sent us to Charleston for Joshua to get well. As time went on, however, we realized that we were on a mission trip. At the Ronald McDonald House, where we lived for seven weeks, we met people who were hurting just as we were. It was so natural to offer to pray with them and to hand them a card with a verse to encourage them. We found that by encouraging others we were encouraged.

God also gave us opportunities to speak with the doctors and nurses. One resident remarked that having a critically ill child must be very hard, and that he could not imagine what we were going through. God opened the way for us to tell the young man about God’s all-sufficient grace.

The nurses loved Joshua, and one night two late-shift nurses had to flip a coin to see who would get to be with him. Through it all, his sweet spirit captured the hearts of everyone who took care of him. We were impressed that even in his weak condition Joshua was doing a work for God.

In the seventh week, complications set in, and a scan was ordered. During the MRI, Joshua experienced heart failure and, though revived, he slipped into a coma. We spent part of Sunday singing hymns with friends around his bed. When Joshua passed into glory on Monday morning, family members were not the only ones weeping. God had given us a precious gift to keep for Him a while. Now God had taken that precious gift home with Him—Joshua’s work for God on earth was done.

Remember, dear families, that your little ones with special needs like Joshua’s have a purpose here on earth. It probably won’t be that they will go to college, become astronauts, or hold any high-tech jobs. But we are all created to glorify God (Isaiah 43:7).

The next time you are frustrated because your child isn’t reading well or is having difficulty in some academic subject, think about God’s two great commandments, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart . . .” and, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:37–39).

These should be the first two goals for each school year. Help your child learn who God is, to love Him, and to know what Christ did on his behalf. Teach your child to show God’s love to others by the way he thinks, talks, and acts.

We must never tell a child that he must wait until he grows up to serve God. Your child can be a testimony to others, and his life can be a tool that God will use to lead others to Christ. His example can encourage other believers with special-needs children who are just beginning to see God’s hand in their lives.

May God bless you with knowledge and wisdom as you teach your children. And may you be sensitive to the work God has for them.

Diane Brown is the mother of three children. She homeschooled her special-needs son, Joshua, for 6 years. In addition to having written other articles for Home School Helper, she also ministers to homeschool families with special-needs children.

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