I get so much enjoyment out of helping children with special needs. I have been a paraprofessional at several different elementary schools for the past few years, and have bounced around in a couple of different rooms working with a variety of children with a range of different needs. My job is not always easy, but there is a reason I love doing what I do: My little brother, Hunter.

Hunter is eighteen years old and he has special needs. When my brother was in school, he had a paraprofessional who worked with him 100 percent of the day. Now, I am very protective of my brother and I always have been. That is why I’ve enjoyed doing what I do. I want to help families know that their children will be cared for and will be safe under my supervision during the day, because I would expect the same for my brother.

Several years ago, I was in a very unhealthy relationship. I was engaged to a man who did not believe in God. During that unhealthy relationship is when I began growing in another relationship which would become the most fulfilling and loving relationship I will ever have: My relationship with Christ. The more I got to know God, the more I could tell there were things that would be difficult entering a marriage with someone who had such different values and beliefs.

I decided to have a conversation with my then-fiance about God. The conversation was messier than I anticipated. I felt like my ex was attacking God and, as a new believer, I didn’t have all the answers to defend him (little did I know that God didn’t need me to defend him at all, since he has already won the war). But the most heartbreaking thing that my ex said to me was, “If God loves you so much, why was your little brother born with special needs?” These words stung like alcohol on an open wound. I had no words to say. Nothing to defend God or my brother. I felt defeated.

More than a year after our conversation ended, his question haunted me. It swirled in my mind and caused so much doubt. “If God loves you so much, why was your little brother born with special needs?” The words hurt like the very first time he had said them. I had many internal battles and arguments with God about it, but I didn’t have an answer. I felt like this was a huge wedge between me and God.

Yet I still desired to know God more and maybe answer the question. I began reading my Bible daily. After reading my Bible for several months, I came across an answer to my questioning prayers.

“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” He told him, “Wash in the pool of Siloam.” So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.  (John 9:1-7)

The blind man is like my little brother. Neither of them were born with challenges as a punishment to their families or themselves. They were born so that the work of God might be displayed in them. Jesus used this man’s blindness to perform a miracle that others would see. After reading this, I began to think about my little brother in a new way.

I thought about the time he accidentally got locked in his bedroom and his immediate reaction was to get on his knees and pray. I thought about how he lights up if he is telling a story from the Bible. I thought about all of our car rides together singing Veggie Tales songs, “God is bigger than the boogie man!” I thought about how he shows everyone love and hugs them when he meets them. I thought about how he never judges a single person but instead shows them a welcoming gesture and invites them to play video games in his room with him.

I would never have guessed that God put my little brother in my life to be an example to not only me, but to everyone he comes in contact with each day. My brother is producing so many fruits of the spirit daily. He shows love, joy, peace, and so much more (Galatians 5:22-23). That is why he was born the way he is. He was created perfectly to be Hunter and to have the work of God shine through him.

Gabby Strandlien

Author Gabby Strandlien

Gabby Strandlien works as a paraprofessional in a level-three emotional behavioral disabilities program. She lives with her husband and their lab on a lake. They love spending time outdoors. She also loves fitness, music, writing, being with her family, and studying her Bible. She has a fire in her heart to learn more about God and grow in her relationship with Christ.

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