Finding Purpose Through Pain: The Story of My Son Born with Achondroplasia – Dr Simone Watkins


from Luke’s Journal 2020 | Breath of Life | Vol.25 No.2

Suffering and disappointment are expected, but unpleasant, realities of life. Even as a Christian, with the hope and victory we know and profess, going through hard times is difficult.

This is something I have had personal experience with, especially through the birth of our son in 2018. I’ve known God for almost fifteen years, grown up in church and worked as a Paediatric trainee for six years. What I am about to share is the hardest thing I have ever walked through, but also the most rewarding and purpose-filled testimony. I hope to bring you a word of encouragement through my story today, but it will also be a raw and honest account of my journey over the last two years.

To paint a picture of my experience, I’ll use the metaphors of exfoliation, pruning and sanding. All these processes require painful removal of old debris to allow an adequate environment for new cells, paint or growth. This is the pathway I was led on recently with the pregnancy and birth of my second son, Lachlan.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:1-8)

“I needed to go through a period of grief … and instead accept a future that looked very different from what I expected.”

Grief is a very real part of life in a fallen world. I believe grief comes when our realities do not match our expectations of life. Grief became a part of our story when, pregnant with our second son, we were told he would be born with a form of dwarfism. The news was unexpected to say the least. After weeks of uncertainty, Lachlan was born on the 6 April 2018 with confirmed achondroplasia on his genetic test. This is a spontaneous genetic mutation that only occurs in about 1 in 40,000 cases. I was re-directed into unchartered territories as a person of “average height” because I knew nothing of what life would be like for him. I needed to go through a period of grief for the son I thought I was going to have, and instead accept a future that looked very different from what I expected. I went through all of the stages of grief to finally come to acceptance. But what I didn’t expect was that I would have to fight to get to acceptance with the shield of faith and sword of His spirit (Ephesians 6:16-17).

This journey was initially terrifying, but not catastrophic. Everybody charters uncertain territories and harbours storms in life. What differs is the scale of the storm and the capacity of the vessel. This life looks and feels different for all of us, but what anchors us all should be the unchanging, unwavering truth of who our God is. Just like Daniel in the lions’ den, I had to believe I knew who my God was and what He was capable of. I had to believe that :

“in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).

“May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions.”

(Daniel 6:10-27 NIV)

I believed God’s purposes would prevail despite the unknown. By faith and trust I viewed my future, and didn’t allow my circumstances or the world’s views to dictate my reality. I came to terms with my reality and believed it was breathed with God – destined purpose and power.

“Be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

“Look outwards to who God is and what He has for you instead of looking inwards at inner turmoil.”

Another version of Hebrews 13:5 puts it like this: “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you”. So, no matter how or what we are grieving today, we know that God will not leave our side. No matter what we are experiencing or facing right now, we know God will be there. He is the source of all love, purpose and acceptance. Our God is central and integral to any overflow in our lives. Difficult life circumstances do not halt this process but can actually bring us closer to God’s purposes. I know that Lachlan’s birth didn’t halt God’s purposes. In fact, it accelerated them and has resulted in so much overflow and joy in my life. I now have a new contentment in life, and have developed boldness and courage to profess my truth.

So I encourage you: do not shut the door on God. Maybe God has hidden purposes in your challenging circumstances. Persevere. Look outwards to who God is and what He has for you instead of looking inwards at inner turmoil. Living life with God-perspective is freeing and powerful.

“Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom…” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

There is strength and abundant joy in His presence no matter what you are facing or feeling. Finally, may the God of hope fill you with all joy, strength and peace as you trust in Him no matter what you are going through right now, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Dr Simone Watkins is a Paediatric trainee of Samoan descent from Auckland, New Zealand. She currently works part time clinically and part time as a Teaching Fellow. Her interests include teaching, professionalism, doctor-patient communication, Pacific health, advocating for minorities, and promoting health and wellbeing.

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