One of my three greatest fears when we received A’s diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), was that there would be no one to love him outside of our family. And unfortunately, this fear is not unfounded. I searched the promises of God that I could cling to in the midst of it all. I remember a specific moment when I was crying to Andy about my fears and he reminded me that God has promised He will provide for A.
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26
But I doubted that my fears constituted a need.
This spring our community group at Trinity Park Church read through the book Made For Friendship by Drew Hunter. It was wonderful for several reasons and one for me personally was the validation of my prayers and efforts for friendship for A – that what I wanted for him was not luxurious but essential. I remember the night when our community group leader brought it full circle for me. If friendship is part of our design and so essential to human life, would our Father who “will supply every need” (Matt. 6:26) not provide friendship one way or another. As soon as Mike said it I remembered that night when Andy proclaimed God’s promise to provide.
We are not promised a life without suffering and it is a safe assumption that A will experience some amount of pain from the sin in this world concerning friendship. One of the most notorious experiences for a person with ASD is a struggle with social norms and relationships. Sometimes it’s just about the lack of understanding another’s perspective but a lot of times you also have other struggles such as speech and sensory processing. So you often see maladaptive behaviors – some are more easily accepted but some are harmful to things and people around them. Therefore my greatest focus of advocacy for A is friendship. I believe that having specific information about A provides the tools to engage him in a meaningful and reciprocal relationship, to enjoy the person that God has and is creating in him, to help him when needed and to rejoice with him in every moment of success. And I trust that this is not in vain and God will provide one way or another.
The people in our church express and show a real desire to love and help us as a family and to understand, engage and love A. So when I spent the last month talking with the 4 children’s worship classes at Trinity Park Church about Autism and A, I was not surprised but still so encouraged by the positive and engaged responses from the children and their parents. This is one of many provisions God has given us through Trinity Park Church and for this particular need.
“O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.” Psalm 59:17
And most of all, I pray that both of our boys will know the truest of all friends — our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13) He laid down his life to save us from despair and to give us abundant hope and peace with him now and forevermore.
Amanda Ew lives in Cary North Carolina with her husband Andy, and two sons, Anderson and Jackson. She has an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. As a member of Trinity Park Church in Cary, she works to bring awareness to the need for inclusion and friendship for people of differing abilities in the church.