Feedback archiveFeedback 2019

Does God cause Down syndrome?

Published: 11 May 2019 (GMT+10)

Nancy H. from the United States writes:

happy-down-syndrome

Hi,

My question is this…

My son was born with Down Syndrome. I have struggled with the question that did God purposely create my son with Down Syndrome or does he have Down Syndrome because we live in a fallen world and our bodies/genes are not perfect?

Scripture says we are fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together in my mother’s womb … etc so was he purposely made by God this way?

Thank you,
Nancy

CMI’s Shaun Doyle responds:

Dear Nancy,

Thanks for writing in. I can’t imagine the struggle you’ve faced. I only have the faintest of what it is to have a son who has an impairment; my son is profoundly deaf in one ear. And CMI obviously can’t walk with you through this; that is where church and other special interest groups can be of service in ways that we can’t. The best we can offer, especially in this format, is to provide a few thoughts on why it’s reasonable to trust God in the midst of such struggles.

First, please search creation.com for “down syndrome” using our search function; we have many articles addressing the issue.

Second, in more direct answer to your question, your son’s Down Syndrome is clearly a tragic by-product of the fallen world. But, he is still of course a precious bearer of God’s image; no genetic fault can take that away (An inconsistent society—An upside down view of Down’s syndrome abortion). And Psalm 139 is a meditation on God’s sovereign care in moulding and shaping each of His divine image bearers.1

It’s important to add, though, that God knew this would all happen, and still went ahead with creating this world (see Why would a loving God allow death and suffering? and Why did God allow sin at all?). But this doesn’t mean God directly caused your son’s Down Syndrome in the similar sense to how He directly caused Jesus’ resurrection. God works through the fallenness of this world to fulfil His purposes. Indeed, the death of His own Son is a prime example: Acts 2:23); He rarely circumvents the natural consequences of the fallen world. But, the one who subjected the world to the curse will also one day remove it. As the apostle Paul so powerfully said in Romans 8:18–25:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

At base though, I think you may have presented a false dichotomy. Can God have a specific reason for allowing your son to have Down Syndrome even as though it’s an effect of the fallen condition? Yes, He can. Does anyone besides God readily know what that reason might be? No. We creatures don’t have access to that information. Does God reveal such knowledge? Practically never. Remember Job.

But can you trust that God is both sovereign and good in the absence of such knowledge? This I think is the real ‘rubber hits the road’ question, and I think the answer is a definite ‘yes’. Again, remember Job. And Paul. When Paul asked for his own ‘thorn in the flesh’ to be removed, Jesus answered: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). And we must remember that this answer comes from the one who “emptied himself” by taking on human form (Philippians 2:7), was tempted in every way as we are (Hebrews 4:15), and suffered obediently for us even to death on a cross (Philippians 2:8, Romans 5:8). He knows what handicaps and suffering are like; He’s personally experienced them.

References and notes

  1. This reading of Psalm 139 may help meditate in more fruitful ways on the psalm: Deus Caritas Est, Psalm 139 reflectors reading, youtube.com/watch?v=ewHk_wL_cwk, 17 July 2014. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

The Creation Answers Book
by Various
From
US $14.00
Christianity for Skeptics
by Drs Steve Kumar, Jonathan D Sarfati
From
US $17.00
Is Human Life Special?
by Gary Bates and Lita Cosner
From
US $3.50
Beyond the Shadows
by Dr Carl Wieland
From
US $10.00

Readers’ comments

Phil P.
I would like Nancy to know too that many children with Downs have proved to be a real blessing to their families with their loving nature
Philippus Johannes Cornelius S.
When Jesus comes to fetch His people this boy and every saved person will get a new body that will never age or get old, even have down syndrome it will be free of sin. This world is not our permanent living space, there is a new one coming and that is what we must live for. I know about Down Syndrome children who became great witnesses to the Lord. God only allows things to happen and He supports us when it happens and these things happen because of the fallen state we live in.
Geoff W.
As a side note, imperfections such as this illustrate how perfectly we DO have to be made for everything to be working properly. Was there a time when everyone had DS? If evolutionary thinking is correct, probably yes - together with many other imperfections, all waiting for Mother Nature to fix them with a bunch of mutations. This again shows what utter nonsense it is to be an atheist.
David N.
When Moses complained that he was not skilled enough for the assignment God gave him, "the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord?" Ex 4:11 NLT God is not afraid to claim sovereignty even over the effects of the Fall.
Tim L.
You say, "Does anyone besides God readily know what that reason might be? No. We creatures don’t have access to that information. Does God reveal such knowledge? Practically never. Remember Job."

However, despite hearing this from nearly every Christian who talks about the subject, I'm not sure that's actually true. Job 42:5-6 says, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: But now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent
In dust and ashes." Furthermore, for Paul, clearly without his thorn in the flesh he would have been less Christlike. Finally, in our open experience what Christian have you ever heard look back on a difficult trial God has taken them through and not say that as a result of going through that trial, they have a deeper and more intimate relationship with God?

It seems to me that we do know why God chooses to bring every single trial and difficulty into our life. It is because He wants us to know Him better, and He knows that the specific trial He has brought us into will be the most effective set of circumstances to bring that about. This is why Romans 8:28 is so accurate! He does work all things together for good! Our only problem is that we oftentimes don't define "good" the same way God does. We often define it in terms of our comfort. But He defines it in terms of the intimacy of our relationship with Him.
Shaun Doyle
I don't think Job 42 reveals why God sent the suffering on Job; Job 1 and 2 provide that background, but Job wasn't told any of that. Paul was told why he was allowed to suffer, and I mentioned that there's a good general principle to draw from that. As such, I think that, as a global statement, Romans 8:28 is correct. But it doesn't address the specific purpose of each individual instance of suffering. For instance, while we can and should grow from individual trials, it doesn't mean we will, and therefore increasing our Christlikeness doesn't necessarily explain why God allows every single trial that comes our way. After all, sometimes we grow bitter toward God because of our suffering.

A better way, I think, of addressing the intellectual issues around suffering is making sure people have a good grasp of why we should believe God is sovereign and good regardless of the evil and suffering in the world (as I attempted to do in Why did God allow sin at all?). If the existence of evil and suffering doesn't nullify the reasons for believing in God, then we have a firmer foundation to deal with trials when they come. It won't make the emotional turmoil go away, but it can help us see it for the vanity that it is.
Michael B.
God is Sovereign over all things, nothing is by accident even in a fallen world. I'm always reminded of this when I read the discussion between Moses and God as Moses tried to use his impediment as an excuse to not do what God was commanding him to do. But God told Moses that where there is a thing lacking it is because God made it so but He is also the one Who makes up for that lack.
Exodus 4:11-12 So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”
Mike D.
I'd like to add something here myself. I won't list the many issues I have dealt with physically & emotionally growing up in a hypocritical "Christian" home full of so much abuse etc. When I really questioned God & certainly Christianity itself. Heck God Thee Father. I wanted no part of a Father like my real & step Father. My image of God was wrong. To make a long story short.

While reading Job during an extremely difficult time. Noticing how God replied to Job seemed almost harsh. Yet what He said it suddenly hit me.

If God & I changed places. If I then knew what God knew. I, as God, would have allowed the same thing to occur for the very same reason God did.

What this meant for Job was his story has meant so much to so many for thousands of yrs. Then God multiplied his reward.

So taking that. As long as I didn't cause this problem myself through sin. Like Drunk driving. God doesn't protect us from our sins & results of. Job had done nothing wrong. Nor I in my circumstances nor people with unhealthy babies unless due to prior drug use. Roms 8:28 God can still use for good. Doesn't say Best. Never His Best will but we have free will.

So we then knowing if places were reversed. That as God I've have allowed this too. My job now becomes to dedicate it to Gods Glory & in fulfilling Great Commission.

May never know. Yet I've been used due to the horrific events physically & emotionally to be used to Glorify God etc. If you ask me now if I'd change it. I'd say no! Why? Because my troubles verses fulfilling Gods will pales in comparison. My life is but a short time compared to eternity. I feel like Paul. I love doing Gods work now. Yet, I wish I was also at my real home too. But that will happen whenever I've finished Gods purpose. Long or short. Then eternity!
Mike D.
BTW. Just to add to what I already said. I've had so much happen. I once was within 48 hours of life or death. I lived but permanent damage due to Drs error & no other Dr would testify against him despite knowing he'd almost cost me my life. So I live with his mistake permanently but didn't even get any compensation. But praise God when I came out of that 48 hours I was able to witness to my nurse. How could I tell God my experience wasn't worth that nurses salvation. I could never do that. I always look to find where & why God has placed me there.

Anyway that & so much more has happened. Many have said to me my life is like Job in many ways.

So in a way you could take that as a compliment to my faith due to God saying He would never allow more on us than we can't handle with Him of course. Plus not wanting to develop that type faith to avoid these type situations. It's so worth it & even less stressful since my life is truly His now!

Yet many times during my life even realizing & thanking God for all this giving me more opportunities for Him & dedicating them for His Glory & use.

I as very much human. I would say to God
" I thank you for the compliments you've given me as to my amount of faith. But could you Please Quit being so Complimentary!!!

I never want to take back control of my life. It's His & I want Him to use me as He sees fit
Michael M.
My sister Angela was born with Downs. She never made any enemies and she was friendly towards everybody. She saw no difference in people, no matter what their status in life. I'm sure that the thought never crossed her mind to create anything that would harm people. When I think about what 'normal' people get up to and the hatred that they sometimes show to one another, I have to wonder who really is made in the image of God. Angela loved going to church and singing worship songs. She is now singing them with the Lord in her glorified body.
Bill G.
We have a son with Down's syndrome who is a great blessing from the Lord.The Lord is sovereign over every human being's make up, yet all are fearfully and wonderfully made. One individual maybe born with a genetically inherited cancer, none of us have perfect genes. What the Lord may take away in one way he makes up for in another. A child with Down's syndrome may have a genetic disability but most individuals with Down's syndrome have less sinful traits in their souls. They are often very happy and content without all the material possessions or position in society than other "normal" individuals. For a Christian the Lord Jesus Christ gives the reason why they are born with a disability in John 9:3 "Jesus answered,, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." They are made so for the glory of God. The Lord will not heal them of their Down's syndrome, until glory, but he will be wonderfully glorified by them in many different ways.
James K.
It’s not just Down syndrome, we only hear about it the most because the left is despicably obsessed with preventing Down syndrome children being born. When one considers the increase in prevalence of adolescent onset cancer, allergies, food intolerance, dystrophies, and overall decline in physical/ mental aptitude it is obvious that the human taxon is not getting better. Perhaps the isolated likely inbreeding ‘archaic human’ populations entombed in the fossil record are premonitions of what will eventually happen to the global breeding population... Give around 4K years. Of course the Lord will return earlier than that.
David M.
On a slightly different tack, I found it interesting that the quote of the Romans 8 passage, specifically verse 22, contains the words, and thus the idea of “pains of childbirth” i.e. “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now”, presumably quoted from the ESV.

A quick search on creation.com for Romans 8:22 brings up about 99 hits and to give the first 3 as examples the verse is variously quoted as “For we know that the whole creation groans together and suffers together until now;” or “the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now” or ‘the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain’. However a search for Romans 8:22 and the word childbirth brings up only 9 hits.

Why do I find this significant. Well, if one has a hermeneutic of using both the Old and New Testaments to understand the Scriptures then I think an O.T. passage which also discusses childbirth, such as Isaiah 66:7-9 (ESV) becomes very interesting and I would encourage readers to consider the questions that it poses.

“Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son.
Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children.
Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?” says the LORD; “shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?” says your God.
Phillip M.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Eph 2:10.

Dear Nancy,

Despite the challenge that lies ahead I pray that God's grace is sufficient for you.

As a carer of people with disabilities I cannot tell you how blessed my life has been over the past 32 years. When the world looks for heroes I need look no further than the people I support. I am continually honoured to support these people and I am grateful to parents for entrusting me with the care of their family members.

God bless you and his grace be with you every day.
Jordan C.
Without the negative things in life, would we come to realize that we need God, would we realize that without Him, we CAN'T sustain ourselves by our own efforts? Without His Grace and Glory we remain fallen, broken, imperfect, we are empty cups, but with Him comes complete restoration from fallenness the of man. In so, we are ALL broken in one way or another, since we are all FALLEN and broken from birth, and those who believe in Christ and His Word are eagerly awaiting His glorious restoration. Looking back on these broken days on earth will make the gift of restoration from Christ so much more realized and profound.

Two parts of Scripture to mind:
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. - Romans 5:3-5
Antony J.
I have one answer to the enigma- suffering. By nature human moves along a line both ends being fixed at need and greed . Need advances to greed in the long run and this is accompanied by works of flesh as a rule.(having conceived desire, sin is delivered). god probably allows sufferings to land , in order to rope us to needs. we are very close to God when we have to put up with needs only. greed endlessly chases us after luring destinations and ultimately we end up in a shatter.
Vicki Lavender H.
We only have God's Word to go on....I certainly am not a Hyper Faith person, but with 2 of my own children who have disabilities I go with my limited faith in God's Word that I have, and so I just ask God to heal and I stand on God's Word , which excites my Spirit...and I see little by little healing here and there takes place, because that is where my faith is at.

Some people pray that they will get through an operation, thank you Jesus, at their level, they are using faith in God and His Word, they are not standing on their confidence that God cannot work today.
Paul R.
Shaun Doyles' answer to this perplexing question is done with love and compassion ,and also with spiritual clarity. I can only echo his words about the effects of sin which Adam brought into this world through his disobedience to God ; we live in a post sin world ,and the effects of sin permeate every part of it !!! Gods' love is for ALL mankind . His salvation is only through His Son ,Jesus Christ, both the Creator and Redeemer of this fallen world ..!!! I'm so thankful your son was born into a family who have both faith ( in our powerful and living God) , and compassion. We all deal with our own difficulties in this world , hopefully with family and friends standing beside us ; a portion of people are "assigned" more difficult tasks , of which you are one. I can only counsel you to stand firm in the faith you have ,and eagerly anticipate the day when all believers will have their Ressurection bodies !!
Gert P.
Thanks for the article, but it leaves more questions than answers. I suffer from a disability and it is a great struggle for me. So this is right up my alley. You say that DS is a tragic by-product of the fallen world. But then later you dabble in the "did God allow" issue and then you say possibly yes. It will be good if you go and think carefully about how God's sovereignty fits in with the fallen world. If you say that God allows then you need to be consistent and say that God also allowed someones 3 year old girl to be raped and be mutilated for the rest of her life while they were forced to watch. The simple answer is that God is restricted even though He is almighty and sovereign. The only thing that can restrict God is His own decisions and rules if I may put it like that. He cannot turn against His own word. The world is cursed and man now commits evil. God therefore does not allow DS or a 3 year old girl to be raped as allowing these things make Him a cruel bystander who had the power to do something about the situation, but didn't. No, God himself is restricted by the curse. Yet there is the promise that He will undo the curse eventually. Unfortunately we now have to wait until that happens.

I was hoping to get a good answer on the "we are fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together in my mother's womb" question. I am still struggling myself with that verse due to my disability, it seems to contradict the fallen world doctrine. God does not make junk, period. Difficulty seeing how God knit everyone in this world as we all know that God made people and animals to reproduce, he therefore created the mechanism for a lack of better words. I therefore can't see God being the one who knit me in my mother's womb.
Shaun Doyle
One of the things I like about this form of communication is that it really doesn’t matter what sort of disability you have; I can’t see it. I just hear your voice, and speak to you as another divine-image-bearing child of Adam. And since all people are made in God’s image, not just Adam and Eve before the Fall (Genesis 9:6), all people are fearfully and wonderfully made regardless of their imperfections and disabilities. I think that helps us see how Psalm 139 can be consistent with God making people, even disabled people, with care and value.

However, if God will undo the Curse, then surely He can undo the curse, right? So, why not undo it now? Indeed, why even bother with it in the first place? My article Why did God allow sin at all? addresses some of those issues.

And is it really a ‘rule’ of the curse that God can’t step in and heal a disabled person, or save a little girl from being raped? God has done healing miracles in the fallen world. He has even spared a couple from death (Enoch and Elijah). There’s more going in God’s planning of history than a simple imposition of rules that stop Him completely from acting in certain ways. See Why did God choose just Israel?

Nonetheless, God allowing suffering with no divine relief must be the overwhelming norm if the fallen condition is to have any meaning. But once exceptions are on the table, God’s choice as to when and how He gives those exceptions becomes a live issue. What constitutes an ‘overwhelming norm’? Would a few more miracles really be a problem? Why heal Naaman the Syrian, and not a faithful Christian now? I don’t know the answer to those questions. But I know God does, and that it’s consistent with His character.
E.T. R.
I thank you Sir, for this concerning downs syndrome. Being somewhat sensitive to things my eyes swell with tears concerning the condition or circumstances of many folks through the centuries, being fully aware of what the Lord suffered for me and those who know Him, along with the needs of these people. I've been a single man for 30 years now following the loss of my family, and have even told the Lord many times of my willingness to find a godly wife with some handicap that I might be a service to her. He has not chosen to bring a mate into my life, but still so thankful to see the many who do care for any who needs our love and care.
Stuart H.
I agree wholeheartedly with David N who quotes Exodus 4:11 and concludes "God is not afraid to claim sovereignty even over the effects of the Fall". I have Marfan's Syndrome, a disorder of the body's connective tissue, which in my case led to aortic aneurysm and the necessity for open-heart surgery to effect an aortic root repair. I now have a prosthetic aortic valve and ascending aorta as well as the incurable genetic condition. I am convinced that God, who formed me in my mother's womb and knew me before the creation of the world, did this deliberately. That certainly does not mean He did it maliciously. It does not mean I love Him less or desire to serve Him less by being His Ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20). I look firstly to the blind man as recorded in John 9 who was apparently created thus "that the works of God might be displayed in him". We are here to further God's purposes and not our own and if that means I must have Marfan's Syndrome I will embrace it with joy. Secondly, I look to 2 Corinthians 1 where Paul states "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God". I have had experiences as a result of my condition that others never will, so I can testify to God's grace and goodness throughout my life to those who may face similar things. The question is a difficult bullet to bite, but bite it we must in accordance with the whole counsel of God as revealed in Scripture.
Stephen K.
I'm reminded of Joni Eareckson Tada, who once said "When I get to heaven I am going to fold up my wheel chair hand it to Jesus and say, "thanks, I needed that." No, life is not "fair" as we think of fairness. But we must trust that in the end, we will thank God for giving us whatever life he chose for us. He will surely wipe away every tear and make it all worthwhile.
Gary F.
The challenges having a Down’s child usually effect people in different ways. A wife’s reaction and challenges can be different than a husband’s. For a young couple, the challenges can sometimes feel enormous and even strain the marriage.

The relief I found was in fully surrendering to Jesus and accepting it. It was a huge trial that I wanted out of it but could not escape because there was no other place for me to go because once I had Jesus, there’s no other life that would fulfill me.

I was young and I felt as if I lost my wife and I resented it. My amazing wife was completely exhausted for the first year due to my child’s heart condition. It can be a extremely challenging. Through it, I got broken of negative characteristics in my life that controlled me but it took time and great difficulty in allowing God to work through and in the situation and to stop fighting and to accept it.

Decades later, there are still unique challenges but I’m changed for the better because of the trial.

I’m grateful God is with me and the challenges I face are little compared to the brethren living in Middle East, Africa, North Korea, etc. So sometimes, perspective also helps me. Again, this is from a man’s perspective, my wife’s thoughts and challenges are different than mine.
Price P.
My firstborn son was born with Down syndrome and he is now 32 years old. But when he was born, I was devastated. All my hopes and dreams were destroyed and life would never be the same. Broken, I went back home and fell on my face before God. I cried out to God that I could not handle this and asked for Him to take this crushing burden from me. Miraculously (& I don't know how to explain it or how He did it), God answered that He would. And I then told Him to take me also and it was like a huge boulder of despair & misery was lifted off my shoulders. I was a changed man and Jesus gave me great joy & peace from that moment. I went back to the hospital a "new creature in Christ" and it was immediate noticeably that I was different. God had not changed my son...., He had changed me.

There have been many good and joyous memories that my son has been a part of through the years, but that day is forever burned in my memory of how God used a little baby with Down syndrome to save me, something that likely would never have happened any other way. I'll never fully know God's reasons for why that handicapped child was born, but I do know that He gave me new life through that experience and that is the greatest gift of all.
Patricia B.
When you talk about things like why Downs syndrome occurs ,you state Job as an example ,.is this correct? God was provoked by satan to prove that Job was righteous, this involved his family being destroyed,then his wealth and that wasnt enough then it was his health. I would have been desperately upset if God had used my prosperity my health and even the lives of my children to get his point across , in Job's case, that he WAS righteous, that point just couldn't be worth that much suffering the lives of my children are not bargaining tools. Even if God was correct in what He did , as human beings we can only operate as human beings and that sort of behaviour is NOT correct in our world , so I dont accept that God is trying to teach us by disabling our children. Of course not , at one level , but at another who put the curse on mankind , and who chose what calamities would come with the curse , we didnt. Also why is God put off by disability ? We would say He isnt , yet He would not allow any disabled or blemished person to serve as a priest ministering before Him..this is really awkward..why not? The very people chosen by God to represent the people before Him He then disqualifies from the role if they have incurred the physical effects of the curse , and that even includes poor eyesight. But He put the curse on the people in the first place who then needed a priest to mediate the affects of it . These are the really difficult questions that everyone seems frightened to ask God about and we may not receive any illumination at all even after asking , look at Job , God was almost cross at his questioning, "Where were you when..", as a human, He is wrong , but as God, He will prove to be justified. How many parents love their disabled kids but really wish they were not?
Shaun Doyle
I think part of the answer in Job is that God is morally free to act in ways that we cannot, in light of his unique nature and status over everything else. The most obvious example is human death; God doesn’t murder anyone, because the concept of ‘murder’ simply doesn’t apply to God. He has the unique right to kill us whenever He chooses. We don’t have that right.

What about disabled people and the tabernacle/temple? Ritual purity was not the same thing as moral worth. Ritual purity used physical realities as symbols and lessons of purity in the Old Testament, and that included being able-bodied. God is perfect, therefore those who served had to be ‘perfect’—in body. It was not a comment on the moral worth of the person. Such is not the case now that the OT shadows have been fulfilled by the reality of Christ. The temple curtain was torn for all, including the disabled.

Think it’s natural not to want your child to be disabled. I’d prefer it if my younger son had perfect hearing in both ears. But he doesn’t, and my preference won’t change anything. But it’s not a good reason to question God’s goodness; that’s the fundamental point of my article.
Joe J.
This is a battlefield, & war has casualties... We need to trust God, but also pray for His help to get through it! It took Gabriel 21 days to get to Daniel(who was fasting & praying the entire time). Jesus taught us to pray ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven’, which reminds us that we may need to struggle for this to be worked out. Don’t get angry at God, or blame Him for the adversity, He can turn it all to good, but it doesn’t mean He caused it to happen. Remember the Lord’s Prayer...
David D.
The youngest of our 4 children (Natasha) was born with Down Syndrome. At that time, we were immediately surrounded by (well-meaning) medical staff, family & friends who all showered us with a great outpouring of "pity" & "sadness" for our situation. After a couple of days of soaking all of this in, and feeling VERY sorry for ourselves, we were visited by a local pastor who had adopted a son with Downes. His comments changed our lives forever as, instead of offering us sympathy, he suggested how fortunate we were that God would love us enough to provide us a "child of our own" with Down Syndrome, when others (like he and his wife) had to go through an involved adoption process to receive this same, "BLESSING"! From our amazing, positive experience with our daughter over the past 26 years, frankly, we would NEVER consider Down Syndrome a "handicap" and I would also have to respectfully disagree with your suggestion that, this condition is, " clearly a tragic by-product of the fallen world". In our view, the only thing that is tragic about Down Syndrome is the misconception that it is somehow a "disability". On a daily basis as we watch our daughter enrich the lives of everyone around her, my wife and I feel that "we" are the ones with the "handicap" & that Natasha is indeed the one who most resembles the true image of God! It is is sad that our society assumes that because someone is "different" that they are the one who needs to be "fixed" (or eliminated). We have even had Christians offer to pray that our daughter would be "healed" from Down Syndrome... if there were even an option, I'm confident we would not choose it for her! Today, all 3 of our other children are teachers because of Natasha & she travels & sings with our gospel music group: TheProverbs.com
Shaun Doyle
It's hard to know how to respond to this. The scientist in me knows that Down Syndrome is a chromosomal abnormality (trisomy 21, or rarely some other problem regarding the copying of chromosome 21), and it causes all sorts of medical problems (though the severity of these varies considerably). Humans are meant to have only two copies of chromosome 21; that's the way we were designed. And Down Syndrome only develops because we live in a fallen world.

Still, I don't in any way want to denigrate the value or achievements of Down Syndrome people. I don't want to downgrade the blessing they can be. I want to affirm that they are truly God's image bearers, just like the rest of us. And I want to see them respected, cared for, and celebrated.

I hope that you can appreciate where I'm coming from; I'm not trying to denigrate anyone here in any way.
Randy M.
God has bought out a love in Nancy's heart that few people experience. A preacher was preaching in New Zealand several decades ago when a woman, who had attended every service and was wheelchair bound due to advanced rheumatoid arthritis, asked him, "Why do you suppose God lets me live?" Taken aback, all he could think of to say on the spur of the moment was, "In you He has given us someone to love on."
Marilyn A.
I have a granddaughter who is now 23. She has one of those rare conditions where her seizures can be held down some by meds, her cognitive problems are extreme, she is not potty trained and there are so many things we have to do for her. She also has CP but is ambulatory. All said, she is the greatest blessing in my life, and I thank God for her always. I can not even imagine life without this precious girl. People, even those in my church family, seem to be astonished at how I can "cope" I do not fat all consider it coping and tell the so. God has given me so much love, the least I can do is to share it. She has 2 brothers with no physical or mental limitations.
I had the wonderful opportunity of working with the developmentally disabled community for many years and am very familiar with the beautiful people with Downs Syndrome. So much love, so many smiles, and a bit of stubbornness that endeared them to me. God has given the parents and the world an unrealized gift.
Robert J.
I don't know if this helps but John 9:1-3 indicates that a man was born blind so "that the works of God should be revealed in him."
John W.
Hello all,
I have worked with children with profound physical and learning disabilities, and also adults and children with learning difficulties. I was taught that each one of us was created as God desired, and that seemed perfectly reasonable because most of us didn't come into contact with people who weren't reasonably healthy and 'normal'.
But since then I have come to believe that as God gave us the gift of procreation and we live in a fallen world, we are all a product of our parent's genes, and we usually manifest similarities to our parents, or family members. The Hapsburg lip in our Royal Family springs to mind. Sometimes impairments physical or mental manifest. But these are all because of our imperfect or recessive genes, not because God deliberately designed us so.
I would say that God loves all of us regardless of our physical appearance or differences, and we Christians need to seek to be filled with His love so that no one feels rejected.
I also believe that we live in a cause and effect world, and that sometimes things happen, such as tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes etc.
That's because of how God designed our world; a spinning ball with a hard outer 'skin' and an inner molten core and dependent on the sun for warmth and light, and the moon for our tides etc.
God can step in and avert a tragedy as He sees fit, but by and large the system He created runs itself and accidents or disasters happen. What we Christians learn is to recognise that God works all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes, but that does not mean we will be spared from personal tragedies or the consequences of human failings and wrong decisions.
Incidentally I loved working with Downs Syndrome children!
Deanna W.
My niece was born with Downs Syndrome.....She is Marla...Marla would not be Marla unless she was born this way! Blessing she was and if I could want anyone to pray with me....it would be Marla. If God was a million miles away....she would feel Him, and she always said, "Me got a light down in My Heart'"...her loving Savior. She lived to be 54 years young! God wanted her back a couple years ago. She was created in the image of God, just like "us"! I wonder sometimes, who is normal! Jesus is always good!
Christine C.
Dear Nancy H.,
I worked with many People who had downs' syndrome who lived in group houses, for over 10 years. Not only was their housing situation an employment boon to me ( I could work with People I loved who were easy to love), I experienced a degree of love and acceptance from them and other People with varying disabilities, that I did not experience from so-called "normal"members of society. Many had a great sense of humour and valued the simple things that came their way.
Many had faith and all were a blessing to me even in occasional times of difficult-to-manage behaviour.
My unbounded admiration goes to all the parents I met who never stopped loving their children, even after having to make the heartbreaking decision to let them live elsewhere. I also have deep admiration for those who were able to choose to keep them in their own care, as happened in my extended family.
Last year Downs Syndrome Australia put out a video to the tune of I have loved you for a thousand years with dash cam footage of mothers and their children singing and signing. It will melt your heart......
Dean L.
Your answer was indeed encouraging to any family suffering through these kinds of trials brought on by living in a fallen world. I found your statement that God didn't directly cause the Down's Syndrome (and by logical extension other disabilities as well) in the "similar sense to the direct way that He caused Jesus' resurrection", to be challenging. When I read in Exodus 4:11 that God claimed to be the one who makes the deaf or dumb or blind, it strikes me that He is taking responsibility for directly and deliberately making them that way, obviously for His own purposes. We see a NT example of one of those purposes in John 9:3 with respect to the man born blind who Jesus healed.

I suspect that the challenge here is a semantic one in that what you meant by saying that God didn't directly cause the Down's Syndrome is perhaps not what I would understand your statement to mean. I see it as contradicting what God said in Exodus 4:11, but you likely meant something different that I'm not grasping.

Thanks again for an enlightening and encouraging article.
Shaun Doyle
Exodus 4:11 speaks to God's sovereign control over such situations; it doesn't specify that He controls them in the same way He directly caused Jesus' resurrection. For instance, we know that blindness can occur naturally. Would that still fall under the rubric of God 'making them blind' as per Exodus 4:11? I would say yes. But in that example, it's clear that there is a certain 'distance' between God and the effect that isn't there with respect to Jesus' resurrection.
Dianne W.
Our family was blessed with a baby brother who was Downs. He was the most precious and loving person I’ve ever known. He was an angel to our family sent from heaven. If Nancy can find the poem entitled Heaven’s Very Special Child it might help her.

Comments are automatically closed 14 days after publication.