What I Learned About God from My Daughter (Who Has Autism)

Sometimes God teaches us things in unexpected ways. Sometimes He uses things that we would never think of as opportunities to learn more about Him. Things that are hard. But lessons we need to know.

Years ago, my husband, Scott, was asked to fill in when our pastor was away one Sunday. I didn’t know until his sermon began that Sunday morning what his topic would be. When I heard his sermon title, my heart did flip flops in my chest. I knew this was going to be one of those hard things to listen to. A hard thing that would end up being a blessing.

The title of his sermon? “7 Things I Learned About God from My Daughter (Who Has Autism).” His Scripture reference was Ephesians 2:1-10 (NIV).

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

#1: God’s heart grieves when His children don’t respond to His voice.

Scott began by remembering how, when Hannah was born, he was caught off guard by the amount of love he had for her. Hannah was our first child, so neither of us had experienced this before. Of course we loved her before she was born, but it became much more real once we could hold her in our arms, kiss her, and love her right there with us. We loved her sweet smile, her soft skin, her fat little fingers and toes. We loved her with our whole beings. Before she was born, we would never have been able to understand how much we would love her!

He talked about how quickly she grew. How she began sitting up, rolling over, crawling, walking, and talking. Of course we thought everything she did was wonderful! Every new tooth was celebrated. Every milestone was carefully noted in her baby book.

And then, around the age of 15 months, things went wrong. Our beautiful girl began losing the ability to talk and to understand speech. She no longer made eye contact with us no matter how we tried to get her attention. She no longer laughed and engaged with us when we tried to play with her. She no longer seemed to understand the simple instructions that we gave her. Instead of happily obeying in order to get our approval, she began looking at us with a blank expression and vacant eyes. She no longer tried to please us or play with us. She no longer craved our attention and our love.

And then she began to lose language. This child who had chattered happily and practiced her new words with pride began to lose the ability and the drive to speak. We tried desperately to get her to name objects, make animal noises that had previously made her giggle, or say “bye bye,” when Daddy left for work. We sang her favorite songs and waited for her to do her part by providing a missing word. We were desperate and confused and worried. We knew something was wrong, but we didn’t have any idea what to do about it.

We simply knew that she no longer responded to us. She no longer responded to her father’s voice.

This brought Scott to his first point: God’s heart grieves when His children don’t respond to His voice.

The verses above state that we were “dead in our transgressions and sins.” In other words, we weren’t responding to God. Scott learned by experiencing Hannah’s lack of response toward him–Hannah’s earthly daddy–that God feels the same way when we–God’s children–fail to respond to Him. And if we as sinful earthly parents grieve when our children fail to respond to us, how much more must God’s heart be grieved when we fail to respond to His perfect love for us?

My prayer is that we all determine to listen when God speaks to us and to respond to His voice as He leads us the way we should go.

Tomorrow I will share the second point in Scott’s sermon. I hope this article has blessed you and that you will come back to read it!

And I would love to hear from you if you have a response to this article! Please leave me a comment below.

post signature

If you’d like to read the other posts in this series, just click the links below!

What I Learned About God from My Daughter (Who Has Autism) Point #2

What I Learned About God from My Daughter (Who Has Autism) Point #3

What I Learned About God from My Daughter (Who Has Autism) Point #4

What I Learned About God from My Daughter (Who Has Autism) Point #5

What I Learned About God from My Daughter (Who Has Autism) Point #6

What I Learned About God from My Daughter (Who Has Autism) Point #7

73 Comments

  1. Cheri Thompson

    Great analogy! I’m finding that God uses who/what is in our environment to teach us; therefore, no 2 people will have the exact same experience. God used my “Hannah” to teach me His love for me. When I think about how much I love her, I’m overwhelmed because my finite love is incomparable of His towards us. And I’m so grateful that I’ll never exhaust His love. Hugs to your Hannah for me!

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Aw, I’ll certainly give my Hannah your hug, and please give your Hannah a hug from me too! And thanks so much for your comment.

      Reply
  2. merettig13

    I never thought about God that way but makes a lot of since. Sorry to hear about your daughter.

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Thank you! I had never thought of God in this light either, and it gave me a whole new perspective!

      Reply
  3. Cindy Magee

    What a powerful post this is to me. My son was diagnosed with Aspergers almost two years ago. Although he is verbal, there are the times where I know his sweet little mind just can’t “hear” me as he drifts off into his world. I had never correlated that with how we tune God out and how that must break His heart. Thank you for sharing this! I’m going to read point#2 next.

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Thank you so much! Yes, I do hope you will come back and read the other posts in the series. There will be 7 posts in all, and I hope to post one each day until the series is complete. Blessings to you and your son!

      Reply
  4. Rachel G

    Wow–what a vivid picture this creates of God’s Father heart towards the children who don’t/can’t respond to Him and His call on our lives…

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Thank you for your comment! That’s exactly what I was hoping this post would accomplish, and I’m thankful that it has helped paint that picture for you.

      Reply
    • Wendy

      Thank you for commenting! Yes, you’re right! I’m sure all of us could (and should) listen better to God. I’m thankful for His patience with us. 🙂 Blessings to you!

      Reply
  5. Val @ Love My DIY Home

    I’m so busy these days that I have to stop and try to listen to that still small voice that is waiting for me. His words are too precious to skip over or ignore all together. I too have an autistic child through adoption and see God through it all. He is there, waiting for us to connect and respond.

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Thank you for your comment! It is a wonderful thing that God is so patient and kind with us whether we deserve it or not! Blessings to you and your autistic child too. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Robin

    My 23 y.o. nephew is autistic. I remember well when his speech at 18 mos slowly dwindled away to the next to nothingness it is today. The silence from him is still so very hard for my sister. And while God does not have to wonder what we’re thinking [like she wonders about her son], because He already knows, I agree He must miss the sound of our voices [that He Himself created] desiring to talk with Him–have relationship with Him. And respond to His love.
    Many blessings to you and your sweet family!

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Thank you for your comment! Yes, I remember (at about that same age) when my daughter lost language until she became totally non-verbal. It was a very painful process to witness. But it is good to know that God knows our kiddos and what they feel and think even if we don’t, and He cares for them more than we could imagine.

      Reply
  7. Amanda

    Wow! Does that hit home or what….I can’t imagine having a child respond to their parent in such a manner, how it would cause me such pain, but as you said, God deals with that everyday. Wow….

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Thank you for your comment! Yes, it really is hard to understand how God is so patient and kind and loving toward us when we are often not very deserving. And knowing that helps me have more patience with my kiddos!

      Reply
  8. Kayla I. Shown-Dean

    This is simply beautiful, Wendy. It makes me want to go talk to my heavenly Daddy.

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! I’m so glad!

      Reply
  9. Shani

    Thank you for sharing your story. As a previous speech-language pathologist, I am quite familiar with autism from a clinical point of view. It is always helpful to better understand the personal struggles through a parent’s eyes.

    Reply
    • Wendy

      I’m glad my story helped you! We are thankful to have had some wonderful speech therapists (and OTs and PTs too)! I think it’s great that you try to learn more from the parents’ perspective. People like you really do help make a very positive difference in the lives of our autistic kiddos.

      Reply
  10. Chicki

    Wow this is so beautiful and true! It’s honestly the perfect comparison as we are God’s children!

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Thank you for your comment!

      Reply
  11. madkat

    My son has autism, and I know the struggles. We, too, homeschool, because it was the best choice for his learning disabilities. It’s hard to work through the day sometimes, but we know that through God all things are possible. One day, on the other side of heaven’s gates, we will be enveloped in those arms once more, embracing our sweet babies that so long for our hugs.

    Reply
    • Wendy

      I agree! It’s wonderful to imagine what our kiddos will be like one day when they are no longer confined to their earthly bodies. 🙂 Thank you for your comment.

      Reply
  12. Georgia Lynne

    Thank you so much for sharing this story!! As I read your post, it was as if it directly was written to me.

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Thank you for your sweet comment! I’m glad my story has encouraged you!

      Reply
  13. outoftheboxmama

    As someone who wants to hear God’s voice and follow in obedience, this perspective was a new one for me. I spent a lot of years not really understanding when I wasn’t doing something, that sometimes it was disobedience in a way, not responding to what God was telling me. And even though he loves us and has grace for us, I’m sure it does make him sad when we don’t, mostly because it means we are missing out on what He may have for us. Sometimes it’s hard to follow His call because it means a sacrifice or a step of faith that is very challenging in the flesh. But responding to His call is always a good thing and He will see us through it.

    Reply
    • Wendy

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post! Yes, I agree that doing nothing (when God is directing us to do something) is being disobedient. God wants what’s best for us, and I agree that, if we obey Him, He will see us through. Thank you for your comment.

      Reply
  14. Maureen

    Thank you for sharing your story. It has been a blessing. I am trying so very hard to listen to God speaking to me and it isn’t always easy, but I the more I stop trying, the louder I hear His voice.

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Yes, that’s true! Sometimes we just need to be quiet so we can listen to God’s voice!

      Reply
  15. Deanna

    What a lesson! Thank you for sharing your story.

    Reply
    • Wendy

      You’re very welcome! Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  16. Trudie

    This is a very good analogy. God bless you for sharing it with us! Trudie

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Thank you, Trudie!

      Reply
  17. Riva Sue

    Wow, great read. Your husband must be quite the guy, to see the Godly lesson that life has given to you both. To see not the sorrow and misery of having a needing child, but the beauty in all she still has to teach.

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Yes, my husband is a wonderful man, great dad, and loving husband! I’m very blessed!

      Reply
  18. nwt2772

    Thank you for sharing your story with us, that had to be difficult to write. I have friends with autistic children and I think they would love to read your series about this. I am going to stop by to read part 2 to hear more about your sweet Hannah.

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Thank you so much for your comment! Please do share this post with your friends and come back to read the other posts in the series. I hope they are a blessing to you!

      Reply
  19. Sandy Sandmeyer

    I loved this post and shared it all over, including with my friends who have children with autism. Thank you for putting such profound words down to share with all of us.

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Sandy, thank you so much for sharing this post! I truly do appreciate it! My hope is that it will be a blessing to others–both those with autistic children and those who know someone who has a child with autism.

      Reply
  20. Tiki

    As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to hear God and to listen to what he was telling me. I’ve learned when I don’t, things don’t turn out quite so well and I realize what God was trying to lead me to or prevent me from experiencing.

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Tiki, that is very true!

      Reply
  21. Michanda

    Wendy this was a perfectly vivid description of how God feels. WOW, the conviction i feel when I wasn’t listening and now that I know better I sometime miss the mark. But this has raised my awareness and I desire to be a better daughter to Daddy! Thank you for sharing your story and I pray that Hannah experiences a touch from God and be healed in Jesus Name! Love Michanda

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Thank you, Michanda!

      Reply
  22. Corinne Rodrigues

    This is such a beautiful perspective. I’m always in awe of parents of special children. God bless Hannah and your entire family!

    Reply
  23. catcallsbeth

    What a lovely story. Thanks for sharing your touching journey. It’s often hard to see the bright side when our children don’t turn out exactly as we expected.

    Reply
  24. Erlene

    What an interesting analogy. Never would have thought about it this way, but it makes sense.

    Reply
  25. Amy Kelsch

    Wendy, I really appreciate you sharing this part of your life. You and your husband both sound like wonderful people. All of us can learn something very important from your insight. Looking forward to reading the next post in this series.

    Reply
  26. Lori @ Frog's Lilypad

    This is a beautiful reminder that God is concerned with our lives. I remember my mother teaching us when we were all at home, when we sin-she grieves, but God grieves even more. I’m on my way over to the next part in this series.

    Reply
  27. Jeanie Erwin

    What a beautiful post. And what a wonderful gift it is to have a child with Autism. the challenges are different and cause you to reach down and use different parts of your heart in ways many people never have the chance to experience. So happy for you. Blessings!

    Reply
  28. kristenlucas411

    Thank you so much for being vulnerable and sharing this. What a beautiful reminder and it sounds like a wonderful treasure Hannah must be.

    Reply
  29. Jeremy

    I love hearing your story and I am looking forward to hearing the rest of the story. This is a great perspective of how much God loves us and loves hearing us. Thank you for this reminder of talking with God.

    Reply
  30. Happily Ever After Etc.

    What a powerful story, I feel heartbroken for your little gal and for how you must have felt to not know how to help her. I definitely need to read the rest of your little series here… I want to know what happens. Stopping by from the Blogelina Commentathon… so nice to meet you!

    Reply
  31. Anne-Marie

    Wow. These are powerful! Yes, I read all 7 of your posts in the series. God speaks to us in some surprising ways but he definitely speaks to us, always longing for our response.

    I cannot imagine how difficult this road has been for all of you. Blessings and hugs to you all!

    Reply
    • Wendy

      I’m so glad you read all of my posts and enjoyed them. Thank you so much! And thank you for your kind comment!

      Reply
  32. Teresa

    You’re blessed to have such a wise husband who can use your life experiences to impact others. This is such a true analogy of how God must feel when we don’t respond. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Reply
  33. Maegan Dockery

    Oh, wow. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I know how difficult it can be to be transparent and raw, but I know this post is going to touch so many people–I’m sure it already has. I am praying for your sweet Hannah!

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Thank you so much for praying for Hannah!

      Reply
  34. Just Plain Marie

    We have an 8 year old son with autism. He is verbal, but he didn’t say his first word until he was three. I remember fighting against visiting nurses who first noticed that he was not responding to the things that he should have been. He spends so much time in his own little world and we find (as God obviously does with us) that he doesn’t respond to our attempts to guide him in the right direction.

    Reply
  35. Renee

    This article is really great! God makes beauty from ashes. I’m not referring to your sweet daughter as ashes at all….What I mean is, when things don’t go the way we thought they would be, and we are a little saddened by it, God still can bring something beautiful from that situation. Many times it allows us to relate to His Word much deeper than we would have had we not gone through the ashes. Your family is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Thank you for your sweet and thoughtful comment! Yes, I agree. God is able to take situations that we find difficult and make them into something wonderful! We wouldn’t always choose to go through these difficult times, but I’m thankful to know that God knows best and will cause things to work out for good for everyone involved.

      Reply
  36. Kelsie

    This is beautiful and I love your analogy. What a positive outlook you have on life. Blessings to you and your family!

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Thank you, Kelsie! I must admit that I don’t always feel so positive, but I try to be! 🙂 It helps to have such a wonderful and supportive family!

      Reply
  37. Ms Orange

    Beautiful honest and open! Our God is working through you BIG! Stay strong mama bear!

    Reply
    • Wendy

      Thank you so much for your encouraging comment!

      Reply
  38. Erin

    This is so touching! I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it would be if my daughter was no longer able to communicate with me as capably as she does now, but I do know I love her no matter what! I’m off to read the others points from the sermon. XOXO, Erin

    Reply
  39. oneashfarmanddairy

    Bless you! I can’t imagine, but you are living a good life and a good example for your little girl!

    Reply
  40. Autumn @ Stay gold Autumn

    I taught Special Education for three years and took 15 graduate hours to becoming a Behavior Analyst before going into a different field. I loved children with Autism a lot and you are really going to bless a lot of people by helping people understand her life. This is a beautiful post and I’m glad you were able to relate to God in this experience.

    Reply
  41. Kelly

    Wow! Incredible! I can’t wait to read the rest! I think sometimes we miss the things that God wants to teach us through our life and we chalk it up as just that, life. God is always pointing to and bring glory to Himself.

    Reply
  42. 204 Park

    What a beautiful post Wendy!

    Reply
  43. momsykulitz18

    What a great sermon from Scott. Somehow you wouldn’t realized things unless they really happen to you. Always be thankful for the positive and negative things in our life. It always has a reason behind it.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Pin It on Pinterest