A Pastor’s words of hope for a baby born blind

(via)DesiringGod.org  Words of Hope for a Baby Born Blind.

More than fifteen years ago Pastor John Piper got the call that a family in his church had given birth to a baby who was blind. Pastor John Piper wrote this letter to the family:

Dear John and Diane,

Last night, as I prayed with Noel, you were heavy on my mind. I said, “Lord, O Lord, please let me be a pastor who preaches and leads and loves in a way that makes the impossibilities of life possible for your people by a miracle of sustaining grace. Help me to know the weight and pain of this life and not to be breezy when the mountains have fallen into the sea. Help me to have the aroma of Christ’s sufferings about me. Prevent shallowness and callousness to pain. O Lord make me and my people a burden bearing people.”

O John and Diane, I am so heavy with your child’s sightlessness! God is visiting Bethlehem with such pain these days in the birth of broken children. Randy and Ann Erickson with their baby’s broken heart; Jan and Rob Barrett with their baby’s liver outside the body; and your precious little one! Is the Lord saying, “I have a gift for your community”? This is not one or two or three couples’ burden. This is a gift and call to the whole church. This is a word concerning the brokenness of this fallen age of futility. This is an invitation for you all to believe that “here we have no lasting city” (Hebrews 13:14). This is an invitation for you to “count every gain as loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7). This is a shocking test to see if you will “loose heart” when in fact God’s purpose is to show that his grace is sufficient to renew our inner person every day to deal with the “slight momentary affliction which is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). Clcik to read more, including the father’s thoughtful response today (fifteen years later).

O Lord, open our eyes to your love in this pain. Open our eyes. “Then Elisha prayed, and said, ‘O Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see.’ So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17). John and Diane, the mountains surrounding your lives are filled with the horses and chariots of God. Only to the eyes of unbelief does the devil have the upperhand here. God is at work in ways and for years and generations and millions of people that we cannot now imagine. This is ours to believe and to bear, no matter the cost. This is ours for this short life.

It seems to me that this life is a proving ground for the kingdom to come. Some are asked to devote forty or fifty years to caring for a handicapped child instead of breezing through life without pain. Others are asked to be blind all their lives…

But only in this life—only in this life. I want to be the kind of person who takes that “only” for what it really is—very short. Prelude to the infinity of joy, joy, joy. But not yet. Not entirely.

How will we ever cope with the burdens of this life if we believe this is all there is, or even the main act in this drama of reality? O Lord, give us your view of things.

May God fill you with anticipated joy.

“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

I love you,

Pastor John

and here is the father’s poignant story of the emotions of that event as he looks back:

 by John Knight

Pastors, Here’s a Scenario

You’re a pastor and ‘the call’ comes. One of your families have welcomed a child into the world – and that child is significantly disabled. They are crushed.

What do you do?

You haven’t experienced this thing in your family and maybe you don’t even know this family well (or at all).

More than 15 years ago, Pastor John wrote a note to my family. With our permission, he turned that into an article for the church, Words of Hope for a Baby Born Blind. I recommend the ministry of writing a letter to anyone in that situation, but I recommend it particularly for pastors.

Here are some reasons:

  • It came right away. For routine births, the emails and tweets and cards and flowers and balloons come right away. We experienced silence for three days, and then people figured out maybe they should celebrate the birth of a child. That letter came during the silence.
  • It was personal. Pastor John references how heavy this is for him. When he closed with “I love you” I believed him.
  • It spoke directly into pain. There was nothing light or trite about how this was written.
  • My dad was the first to communicate Paul is a gift. Pastor John was the second, and I had it in writing.
  • It was full of Bible.
  • It was communal; we were not alone: “This is a gift and call to the whole church.”

There are phrases in here, almost 16 years later, that we cherish:

  • „when the mountains have fallen into the sea. . .”
  • „God is at work in ways and for years and generations and millions of people that we cannot now imagine.”
  • „Some are asked to devote forty or fifty years to caring for a handicapped child instead of breezing through life without pain. Others are asked to be blind all their lives. . .”

Advice for Pastors in These Situations

We welcomed that note when it came — we desperately wanted our leaders to respond to this shocking, devastating event in our lives.

But do not be overly impressed if your note is initially received with gratitude. Two months after we received Pastor John’s letter, I would reject everything in it.

And do not be overly discouraged if it is torn to pieces and thrown into your face. I’ve done things like that as well. And today I see Jesus as beautiful and purposeful.

Set any thoughts of success or fear aside. See the pain, look to Jesus, and pick up your pen or keyboard and begin, „Dear . . . ”

If you can, get up from your desk and go to the bedside of that new baby with your note in hand.

Then pray with all your heart that God would grant those new parents eyes to see his glory. And pray for your church to understand God has given you a gift who could permanently change how you understand his sovereignty over all things.

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