I sat in my husband’s recliner reading a popular book for Christian women I had heard a lot about. Its message was one of grace and not expecting perfection from ourselves or others. But one of her illustrations caused me to put it down and not read another page.

She was pregnant and had gotten news that her baby would have complications. She wept and prayed and begged God for healing. When the baby was born, he didn’t have any issues. In fact, she wrote, “[He] has been a perfectly healthy…little boy his entire life.” (Of course, at the time of writing the book, he hadn’t yet started school, so his entire life hadn’t been that long.) She asked herself why her son didn’t have any issues and concluded that she had learned the lessons God had for her to learn during her pregnancy, so she had a healthy son.

What message did I read in her words that caused me to stop? As the younger sister of someone with Down syndrome and the mom of an autistic son, I must not have learned the lessons God wanted me to learn as quickly as she did, and therefore I didn’t get the reward she received.

This idea of rewards and punishments isn’t the gospel—it’s the prosperity gospel. And as a special-needs parent, I have found myself especially vulnerable to its influence in my life. 

When my son James was diagnosed in 2010, I wondered what I had done wrong. I had tried to be faithful to God my entire life. I was a leader in my youth group, had led Bible studies in college, went to seminary, and married a pastor. My vision for my life was to sit on the front row each Sunday with my perfectly-behaved boys sitting next to me, listening to their daddy and thanking God for all his gifts in our life. But God’s greatest gifts turned out to be a life that exposed the prosperity gospel beliefs I had unintentionally held on to and the ability to see his purpose for me more clearly.

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Source: Special Needs Parenting- Key Ministry

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