I just came across this quote by NZ theologian Ian Waddington:
Ian Waddington, “Parenting a Child with Autism, the Father-heart of God,” in in Theology and the Experience of Disability: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Voices Down Under (ed. A. Picard and M. Habets; London: Routledge, 2016), 32-40.
As a father, I love all my boys equally, and appreciate their different gifts and abilities, their different characters and natures. I love them all equally, but paradoxically, I love James just that little bit more, just because for him life is harder. I think that God has a similar care for the poor and the powerless, and for a similar reason. Consider god’s compassion in the Old Testament for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner (Ps 68:5; Amos 2:6), or in the New Testament, Jesus’ concern for the poor, the disabled, the marginalized, the sinner, and the unclean. Many of those groups remain, to a large extent, to this day, and tehre are strong overlaps between them.
Why does James have autism? I don’t know. I know he makes life interesting. I can’t imagine a world without him in it. But despite the challenges, he has already given me and the other of our family (and some further afield) a gift in helping us to learn about God – a God of compassion for those who find it tough; a God who invites us to partner with him in difficult things and who gives maturity as a reward; a God who calls for our attention, and who disciplines us to give us flexibility and strength, and finally a God who gives us hope, not just of a resurrection body, but of a world where everything now wrong – whatever that happens to end up being – is made right.