Disappointments Are Not Destinations
By Brad Mattrisch
A young couple in their 20s fell in love and decided to get
married, thinking that together they could make northeast Wisconsin a better
place. That first year, eager to start a family, they welcomed their first
child, a little girl, into their home. Soon after that, a baby boy was born.
Life on the farm was sweet, so the couple planned to have one more child.
Unfortunately, they experienced perhaps the biggest
disappointment in their lives on the morning that their second son was born. He
experienced a delay in breathing for 26 minutes, and all of their hopes and
dreams were shattered.
The doctors at St. Vincent’s in Green Bay told my parents
that I would probably die or live as a “vegetable” for the rest of my life. My
family believed that God changes things when His people pray. I live each day
as a testimony of His grace.
Since my family lived in Pound, a rural community, our
school district didn’t offer services for children with disabilities and
decided to transport me to Green Bay. There I received services such as
occupational, physical and speech therapies. The school had a time set aside
every week for swimming, a great form of exercise for people with cerebral
My time in Green Bay was vital in building a framework for
my family to deal with my disability and allow me to pursue my potential. More
importantly, as I grew, I developed a love for God’s Word and began attending a
Special Touch camp in Waupaca for people with disabilities.
I now have the privilege of working as an Assemblies of God
minister with Special Touch Ministry, a national organization that provides
lots of opportunities for people with disabilities to experience God, to be
included in the church, and to build meaningful relationships with believers.
That is exactly what takes place each summer all over America through our
Summer Get Away Program.
But even as God guided my path into this fulfilling
ministry, He used challenges and heartache along the way. I journeyed through a
series of setbacks that seemed to build on each other in an attempt to break
In 2004, my mom, who was in her mid-60s, became very ill as
a result of diabetes. She needed heart surgery. We would “chat” online every
day, and she did many things for me like make my phone calls.
Following the surgery, my mom spent 11 weeks in the hospital
in serious condition. I believed God was going to heal her, but after several
weeks of steady improvement, she had a massive stroke and went to be with
While I was deeply disappointed that God didn’t do what I
expected, my focus quickly turned to my girlfriend who was placed in a nursing
home three weeks later.
She was having issues with her spasticity (tightening of
certain muscles as a result of cerebral palsy), so she had a pump implanted in
her abdomen to try to control it with regular medication. This also involved a
long hospital stay and a lengthy rehab.
A year later, I was told that I needed the same pump to help
me with arthritis, pain and spasticity. After much prayer, I sensed God leading
me to trust Him and get the pump. The day after my ministerial ordination
interview, I had surgery to implant the pump. I was very sick following surgery
and had to spend a month recovering at my dad’s home.
Six months after my surgery, my dad had a stroke and would
never be the same. He then had a number of heart attacks. God called him home
during Thanksgiving 2006. I treasure the month that my dad took care of me and
brought me back to health.
I experienced another big disappointment in 2007. Upon
completion of a multiyear project to design and implement business systems at
Kikkoman plants around the world, the contract with my company for IT services
was not renewed. I was out of a job.
Yet, God used that final loss to propel me into the ministry
I now enjoy. I have the privilege of connecting with so many people who face
challenges similar to my own. That sounds to me like what the apostle Paul was
talking about when he wrote to the Corinthian believers: “Praise be to the God
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of
all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those
in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2
Corinthians 1:3,4, NIV).
From that earliest season of disappointment my parents
experienced when they first heard the words cerebral palsy applied to me,
through every heartache or setback or challenge our family experienced, God
remained faithful. He is always “the Father of compassion and the God of all
comfort.” And at Special Touch, I can introduce so many hurting people to Him.
I hope you know Him, too.
BRAD MATTRISCH is the national coordinator of Support
Ministries for Special Touch Ministry, Inc., in Waupaca, Wis.
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