In Jason Hague’s memoir Aching Joy he “writes and speaks about the intersection of faith, fatherhood, and autism” .
(In exchange for reviewing books for Tyndale House Publishers I received a free copy. This post also contains affiliate links.)
In Aching Joy I did not find much discussion of autism as a disorder. Although Jason tells us about his autistic son Jack’s diagnosis, therapy, and progress, that is not the focus of this book.
(As Jason does in the book I will use the term “autistic” rather than “with autism”.)
Parents of autistic children often become focused on learning about autism, seeking treatments and services for the child, and celebrating any progress, victory, or achievement no matter how small.
Jason didn’t do that when first confronted with Jack’s diagnosis of autism. In denial of what the doctors said and other family members recognized, he grieved over what he saw as the death of the father- son relationship he had dreamed of. Perhaps worst of all, his faith in an all- powerful loving God was shaken as it had never been before. Considering that Jason is a pastor, that was a crisis.
Aching Joy is the story of Jason, and how he found his way back through the Land of Unanswered Prayer as he calls it.
This is a book about the treasures I found in my darkness and the greatest of all was this: aching joy. The Lord taught me how to sigh in pain, how to weep in gladness, and how to trust during days of hope deferred. It was not an easy road to walk. It still isn’t easy and it isn’t safe. Rather it is a confounding country full of myths and mirages. us here faith resembles denial settled this looks like a surrender and hope is the scariest creature of all.
As Jason narrates his son’s cycles of regression, progress, then regression again, we also see the same happen to him; his faith in God and answered prayer likewise waxes and wanes based on these and other life circumstances. He totters through expectation to disappointment, from hopefulness to resignation, from faith to fear.
But finally he comes to terms with the roller coaster that autism can be, and decided to put his trust not in a program, professional, or process, but in a Person.
If there is an answer to the mysteries and tensions in this unfinished life, we will not find it in philosophy or poetry or self-help religion. Rather we only find it in a Person. Aching Joy would be impossible if we were self- sustaining adults but fortunately we are much smaller than that. We are children of an eternal King. Courage and healing are in his hands and he waits for you to call. He waits for you to tell him where it is you ache and to rest under the shelter of his touch.
At this link to his website you will learn more about Jason, access his blog, and read the first two chapters of his book.
Aching Joy is published by NavPress and distributed /marketed by Tyndale.
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