Counseling One Another

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Counseling One Another

Faith or Genetic Testing?

Today is a day for which we have waited a long, long time. Our 7-year old daughter, who is 3½ years delayed in all major areas of learning and some physical development will spend a few more hours at Children’s Hospital to begin the many-months’ process of DNA testing and genetic array analysis. Basically, from our limited understanding at this point, it will allow the neurologist to learn of the intricacies of our daughter’s DNA, watching for abnormalities such as longer or shorter strands. Having already ruled out auditory neuropathy, which was the cause of her being almost completely deaf at birth, a genetic array may reveal other information that will steer the specialists down a path of further understanding as they compare the markers to the cumulative data gained by the science of genetics.

Perhaps someone may ask why we are having this testing done. Isn’t it enough to know that God is in control? There will be more to say in the months ahead, but for now let me boil my thinking down to two concepts.

Biblical faith does not require answers. Our daughter’s neurologist has gone out of his way to request a secondary funding source (genetic array costs a minimum of $20,000) not because we cannot live without answers, or because our faith in God is threatened. On the contrary, our faith in the sovereignty and goodness of God is surer than ever. Our confidence in Christ and the eternal hope of the gospel is richer now than if our lives had been free from having children with physical disabilities.

Like Abraham did not need to know where he was going or how he was going to live when God called him to leave Ur of the Chaldees, so we don’t have to know what is really going on in Kayte’s brain or other parts of her body. To live by faith is to “go out, not knowing where [we] are going” (Heb 11:8). This journey of faith—without seeing—began over 25 years ago when my wife and I submitted our lives to the Lord in the spirit of Romans 12:1, knowing that our bodies (not merely our souls) were purchased by the shed blood of Jesus (Rom 14:8; 1 Cor 6:20). Like Sarah did not need to know how an elderly woman would conceive a child, so we don’t need to know anything more than that every child is a gift from God and He uniquely knit our daughter in the womb for His glory and purpose (Ex 4:11; Ps 139:13-14) and He is faithful to do what He has promised (Heb 11:11). We did not need to know that four of our children would be hearing-impaired before accepting them from the Lord. All we needed to know is that God is faithful, good, sovereign, and wise. He makes no mistakes. He is always to be praised.

Getting “answers” from this genetic testing will not strengthen the foundations of our faith, nor will the absence of any learning weaken it. The foundation of biblical faith is our unseen but faithful God. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen’ (Heb 11:1).

HOWEVER…

Common grace may provide answers that will help us to help her. Biblical faith is not opposed to knowledge gained through research as long as the interpretation of that research does not conflict with scriptural truth and sound theology. Common grace refers to the blessings of God that are universally enjoyed by both believers and unbelievers. The blessings of common grace are received by virtue of being God’s creatures made in His image. One example is man’s ability to accumulate knowledge gained through scientific observation of man’s behavioral patterns and the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Both medicine and the human body are aspects of creation that should be studied. The more man’s knowledge increases concerning how the human body and mind function the more clearly we will know how medical treatment may be properly used within the framework of biblical living without minimizing or interfering with man’s desperate need of saving and sanctifying grace.

Do we absolutely need to know what is really going on in our daughter’s body? No! Biblical faith does not require “sight.”

Might God, through genetic testing, provide helpful knowledge that will enable us to help our daughter as best we can and direct us to the most effective methods for her education? Yes!

So…is it faith, or genetic testing? It’s both.

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