My husband and I married exactly one week after I graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in psychology (ironically, the brain was always a fascination for me). It was really important to my parents that I finish school before getting married, so I did. A whole week before getting married.
As much as I loved my major (because of my ironic fascination with the brain), I came to the realization that there wasn't much I could do with a bachelor's degree in psychology, except maybe to apply for graduate school. That was my original goal; law school, actually. But as a newlywed with stars in my eyes, I just really wanted a job that would help pay some of the bills and let Jared start some of his schooling. Most of my job experience during summer breaks was in the medical device industry (where I ultimately grew into my career), but at the time there were no medical device companies hiring nearby. So I took a job at a special education school as a teaching assistant. During college I volunteered there for extra credit in a child psychopathology class, and I kinda liked the place, so I was happy to get the job.
I still remember the children in my class so fondly. They were in the 10-12 year old range, but had cognitive and intellectual capabilities that were similar to preschoolers. Some had cerebral palsy. Some had Down Syndrome. Some had seizure disorders. Some had been badly abused and suffered neurological deficits. Some had other profound disabilities. All of them found a place in my heart. I came to love these children, and I missed them dearly when we moved from Utah to Texas toward the end of my first school year with them.
Anyway...(finally getting to my point)...sometimes we would have volunteers come and help us during lunch and recess time, and I remember one volunteer in particular who sat next to me as we watched the children play on the playground. She watched the children with fascination, and finally said to me, "Kids like this are why my dad doesn't believe in God." I thought it was a very sad commentary. I don't remember if I was gutsy enough to reply out loud to her, but my immediate thought was, "Kids like this are part of why I DO believe in God."
Of course these children were evidence of God. A loving God, in fact. They had perpetual innocence. They gave unconditional love. They carried with them a very tender and humble spirit. They inspired "normal people" like us to serve and care for them, and the more we serve someone, the more we love them. I felt so blessed being in their presence, because it felt like heaven. They bore their physical infirmities with patience and joy, because their temporary tabernacles were no match for their eternally eager spirits. I know that parents do not wish their children to have disabilities, and I know that raising a profoundly disabled child must be a difficult challenge. Even so, I saw great love between these children and their parents. Somehow the Lord can always make something good come out of anything that mortality can throw our way.
I guess there is always someone who might look at adversity and use it as an opportunity to dismiss God. "How can there be a loving God if so much suffering is allowed to happen?" But my reaction to that is the same as it was back in the days of the special education school: this is part of the reason why I DO believe in God. Adversity, by definition, is not something I desire or enjoy. But I've been schooled by occasional experiences of heartbreak, disappointment, and loss; and they have taught me much about life and faith. I guess now I'm supposed to be earning my graduate degree in adversity, and I have never felt closer to my Heavenly Father. These are refining experiences. They are packed with opportunities for goodness to emerge from anything. They are lovingly designed and masterfully executed, even in the midst of disaster. They are still not fun or pleasant or easy. They still hurt - badly, sometimes. But if we free ourselves from bitterness, anger, and despair, the loving face of the Lord can be revealed to us as we increase our reliance on Him.