This is a copy of a blog post I wrote for Watermark during our trip to Haiti in February. I've been meaning to post it here for a long time and am just now getting around to it. Here is a link to all of the blog posts from our trip.
It is a question I have asked myself many times after my son Owen was born with spina bifida. Spina bifida is a birth defect that has impacted Owen’s physical abilities in several ways. The most significant is that he can’t stand on his own and uses a wheelchair fulltime. My wife and I have wrestled long and hard with God on the answer to that question. Over his 11 years, Owen has also wrestled with that question. And while we don’t have a full answer to that question, God has shown us again and again that He can be trusted in everything, even hard circumstances like being in a wheelchair.
But this week, we were not the ones asking “Why?”
It was the children we had come to serve in an orphanage in Titanyen, Haiti. During a time of free play, a group of children gathered around Owen and asked why he was in a wheelchair. With the help of a translator and some transition questions from me, Owen explained a little about spina bifida and what life is like in a wheelchair. He shared that it is hard for him sometimes when other kids are playing sports that he can’t play. He also shared that he can still have joy today because he knows that someday he will be in heaven with Jesus and be able to walk. Owen then explained that he knows he is going to heaven because he believes that Jesus died for his sins on the cross and has accepted Him as his Savior.
Owen’s wheelchair is normally something that makes him different from other kids. But today, God used Owen’s wheelchair to build a bridge to a bunch of kids that have experienced significant hardships.
This same story played out twice on the streets of Titanyen yesterday. Each time a crowd of people got to hear from an eleven year-old boy about how he has joy in the midst of hardship because of his relationship with Jesus – and that this same joy is available to them through Christ. I wasn’t the one asking “Why?” today, but I was not oblivious to the not-so-soft whispering from God reminding me that Owen is God’s masterpiece and He has created him anew in Christ Jesus, so that Owen can do the good things He planned for him long ago (paraphrased from Ephesians 2:10).