I find that many families carry significant burdens in their lives. Often we are ignorant of these as they appear OK when we see them among the church on Sundays. But dig a bit and you will find major issues. My wife and I faced this 23 years ago. One day I received a phone call in my office telling me that our son had been involved in a serious road accident. In that moment I thought ‘I think that life has just totally changed and we had no warning’. That proved to be true.
Andrew and Rachel Wilson carry a particular life-changing situation in their home with two young children who have regressive autism. Andrew, an elder of Kings Church, Eastbourne, is well known across the Newfrontiers family for his teaching and theological acumen. He is also an author of several books, the latest, written with his wife, Rachel, being The life you never expected. This is a courageous book as it exposes the reality of their day-to-day lives without giving all the answers. Although written to help others who have children with special needs it has application to others who face major issues.
The hard questions
In The life you never expected Andrew and Rachel address many of the questions which we all ask – ‘Why did this happen?’ ‘Is God answering our prayers?’ ‘What about healing?’ etc. In doing so they have the refreshing courage to say on occasion ‘we don’t know’, important when they face the daily challenges of two very demanding children. At such times it is not helpful to receive a somewhat super-spiritual answer but better to acknowledge our limited understanding – though I am not implying that they don’t focus on God! They do so in a very impressive and tenacious way.
Interestingly written in five cycles, each with five chapters – Weeping, Worshipping, Waiting, Witnessing, And Breathe – they openly admit this is a work in progress and that they do not pretend to have all the answers. For them there are many challenging years ahead and they realise their views may change with time and experience. But this book is earthed in reality including, for instance, guidance for friends and family on how to interact with a family immersed in demanding situations.
This book is not a ‘good read’ in terms of being enjoyable light reading – but it is certainly captivating. I commend it to you whether you face life-changing issues yourself or you have friends who do. It will give you insights which are not theoretical. Let it shape your love for and care of those who live in a highly demanding 24/7 environment of challenge and unpredictability.