"Wrestling with an Angel" The Book

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Twenty-Two Years

My son turns twenty-two tomorrow.

For most parents raising typically developing children, the passing years are anticipated to bring more and more joy. There are seasons to look forward to—sporting events and spring prom and driver’s education and graduation and college and career and marriage and children and grandchildren. The natural progressions of life within the family unit are hopeful jewels in the crown of parenthood.

My son turns twenty-two tomorrow, and there have been no championship games or prom dances. He didn’t walk across a stage at his high school graduation. He will not drive a car or go to college. He will never have a job, a wife, or children. The natural progressions of my son’s life get less hopeful with each passing year. The milestones are gut wrenching and the future is filled with painful questions: Where will he live out his life? Who will care for him when we’re gone? What if he is mistreated or neglected? When will the side affects of a lifetime of harsh medications and debilitating disabilities take their toll on his body, organs and mind? Will he suffer? Will he know we loved him to the end?

My son turns twenty-two tomorrow and he is not getting better, he is getting worse. It’s not getting easier; it’s getting harder. He is getting older. I am getting older. His skin is covered with open sores from years of self-abuse and unknown skin ailments. His hair is all but gone, his teeth are decaying and slowly falling out, his legs are turning inward so badly that he practically walks on his ankles. Physical disabilities, autism, PDD/NOS, and a plethora of sensitivity issues have ravaged his once bubbly personality leaving him frustrated and distressed. The anxiety is greater than it has ever been—for him and for me. As I look over the hundreds of childhood pictures spanning two decades, my heart swells and then gradually sinks. The change is dramatic and heartbreaking. His remaining life will likely be short and full of sorrow.

“Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.” (Job 14:1)

My son turns twenty-two tomorrow, and his mom and I will grieve—deeply, silently, secretly, and personally. But we will not grieve in the same way as those who have no hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13) For we consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to him. (Romans 8:18) We will cry with an inward groan as we wait eagerly for the redemption of our son’s body. (Romans 8:23) We cannot see how this will work out. Then again, hope that is seen is not really hope. But if we hope for what we cannot see, we will anticipate it with patience and confidence. And the Spirit will help in all our weaknesses. (Romans 8:24-26)

My son turns twenty-two tomorrow, and tomorrow we will rejoice that he was fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together in his mother’s womb, created in the Imago Dei. (Psalm 139:14) We will sing “happy birthday” and blow out candles. We will shower him with gifts and surround him with love. We will take photographs and selfies and we will allow the world to see just a snippet of our life. We will laugh and eat cake as if disability did not exist. And people will say, “What a happy boy! What a delightful day! The Lord is faithful! Jesus is enough! God is good!”

My son turns twenty-two tomorrow, and as he preaches to us a silent message of tangible grace, we will feel the warmth in our souls that this is not the end. We are not yet home. Our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform Jacob's lowly body so that it will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20-21)

My son turns twenty-two tomorrow, and twenty-two years is like a day to the Lord. But even if that day is like a thousand years to us—we will spend each moment knowing God is faithful to the very end.


  1. Praying for you today and tomorrow.....and the next day.....and the next....
    May your confidence in God increase. May His comfort continue to overwhelm you when grief is near and real. May you continue to find His joy in the hard struggles. His peace to your hearts and your home.

  2. Thank you for being brave to share your journey. It means so much to know there are others who understand. You beautifully put into words my heart for my daughter. I have been meditating on this verse recently, "You, Lord, keep my lamp burning. My God turns my darkness to light." (Psalm 18:28) Praying that God will keep you and that you would be filled with His peace as you walk through the darkness.

  3. I'm a dad who's praying for your son, family - and you right now.

  4. We've got a seven year old son with cerebral palsy (and possibly more problems that we don't yet know about). I'm sitting here crying. Thanks for your courage in sharing this. Thank you for choosing to turn the hurt into blessing.

  5. God bless you and your wife, brother.

  6. Thank you for putting your very real feelings into beautiful words. My son turned 22 in February and we are full of more questions than answers as well. Only God knows the future of our boys and how they will impact the world for His purpose. For now, we take the challenges one day at a time and try to look for little victories in spite of exhausting odds. Happy Birthday to Jake and continued prayers for your strength and perseverance.

  7. Powerful! Thank you for sharing your heart, your grief, and your joys. May this article encourage many.

  8. HI,

    I came across your article this morning and I am really thankful to God for helping you put this in words. I know it is a hard journey but now you have another brother in Christ, upholding you/family in prayers. Let Christ continue to be our hope!

  9. Thank you for sharing this and bringing perspective back to my life. Happy birthday to your beautiful boy (I recently gave birth to my son, and there is such a difference in connection as compared to my daughter, although I am desperately in love with them both.) I celebrate with you, your wife and your family. I also pray for you all as you press on in the daily, with all its ups and downs. I am grateful to God that your son was given to you, a family that pours love into his precious life.

  10. It's easy to preach God's sovereignty, but much harder to live my life trusting in it. Thank you for sharing your struggles and being an example of trusting our Sovereign and Loving Father in the midst of suffering.

  11. I'm a fellow parent of an autistic child who is a few years younger than Lucas. Your writing and sharing over the years has been an incredible comfort. Thank-you to you and Lucas. It is incredible how powerfully God can use our weakness.

  12. What a well-written, heart felt article. Thank you for sharing. This taught me more about those particular scriptures and what the whole story about wrestling with the angel meant, Thanh you

  13. What a precious story - God has made you all stronger and a very special family to have had to raise your son. Praise God you kept him and did the best you could. I pray oftentimes for sick people who I don't know when I can't sleep at night so I'm sure I have prayed for you! God bless you and keep you!

  14. I am so excited to meet Jacob one day in our Heavenly home! God bless you. Thank you for sharing this message.

  15. Thank you so much for sharing this. I opened this the first thing in the morning and I was overwhelmed with His presence in my very room. As much as I am blessed with this story I believe many others are and will. I'm praying that God will give you joy that transcends all understanding amid the hopelessness that our human eyes see. Will keep you in prayer all my life.

  16. Ever waiting for that glorious day when our "happy ending" becomes what we see. Thank you so much for sharing your heart, validating ours and reflecting our great Savior.

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