I wanted to share with you about a person who changed my life.
She challenged me to think beyond myself.
She caused me to spend more time thinking about someone else and less time thinking about my problems.
She brought me to my knees in prayer more often than any single person ever has.
She made me realize the love you can have for someone you have never even met.
She made me see that every life has a purpose.
She made me more fully appreciate that people with disabilities cause the rest of us to be better.
She didn't even live three days outside the womb, but her life accomplished all of this in me.
Let me tell you about my friend, Matilda.
You see, our dear friends were pregnant when they discovered their child had down syndrome and a severe heart defect related to the disorder. As time marched on, it became clear the heart defect was probably going to take Matilda's life. But thanks be to God, our friends were able to hold firm to their view of life being God's choice, not theirs, because had they followed suit with 90% of parents who find out their child has down syndrome, Matilda would never have had the opportunity to change so many of us who spent our days and nights humbled to God in prayer for her.
Constant praying for another's welfare changes your soul.
Matilda's short life was not without a purpose. Her time in utero was surrounded by the prayers of her fellow Christians. God preserved her life long enough to be born into the loving arms of her parents. He preserved her life long enough to be washed in the saving flood of Baptism. He preserved her life long enough to change the hearts of those who knew and loved her. And finally, He preserved her life in eternity where we plan to see her.
When emotional stories of women who chose abortion for their disabled child come up, I hurt for them. I cannot imagine the pain involved in discovering your child may die in utero or shortly after birth. I weep with these parents. We lost a child in utero through a miscarriage of our first child. I understand a little about the pain, but I have never been faced with the knowledge that my child in utero was sick before he or she died. To hold that information is gut-wrenching. We have watched Matilda's parents do it, and it is no easy task. Women and men who have endured this type of pain need our prayers.
We live in a culture that teaches us death is better than hardship.
So, when parents hear their child will struggle or possibly die sooner than one hopes for their child...
When they hear they themselves will struggle with raising someone with this disability...
When they hear that there is going to be real pain involved for their child and for them...
Sometimes they succumb to the death is better option. Lord, have mercy.
Death is never better, friends. Matilda is only one person, but she taught me in a really personal way that death is never better. It has been almost four years since my friend Matilda fell asleep in Christ, and her impact remains with me - reminding me of the importance of every tiny life, reminding me of the importance of humble, selfless prayer, reminding me of the importance of treating all people with disabilities with respect and dignity, reminding me of the importance of showing empathy to mothers and fathers who are given the great responsibility of a high risk pregnancy, reminding me of the importance of speaking out for the defenseless.
In your honor, Matilda. Your life made a difference here. I look forward to meeting you soon.