“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:14-16).
We look for any excuse to celebrate in our culture. We have the candy holidays (Valentine’s Day and Halloween – and you can celebrate World Chocolate Day on July 7th this year!), the greeting card holidays (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, etc.). If you can think of it, it probably has a day. In fact, I bet most of you missed National Corn Dog day on Saturday.
Then there are the more serious days that are set aside to remind us of the difficulties and challenges we face – National Diabetes Day (that’s tomorrow!), National Heart Disease Day (always the first Friday in February to coincide with Valentine’s Day). Some even have an entire month – October is National Breast Cancer Awareness.
This brings me to the point of this email. Today is World Down Syndrome Day. It occurs every March 21st (3/21) to represent the chromosomal defection found in the 21st chromosome (there is one extra chromosome, making 3 – thus 3/21). It is certainly wonderful to have a day to celebrate those with Down Syndrome. Many of us have had those with Down Syndrome who made and are making incredible impacts on our lives.
Yet there is something quite sinister lurking in the shadows. There are approximately 6,000 children born with Down Syndrome each year in the United States, or about 1 in every 700 births. However, what these numbers don’t tell you are the thousands that are aborted each year simply because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome. It is a staggering loss.
The reality is this: having a special needs child is challenging, exasperating, exhausting, and often a life-time responsibility. And this: each child conceived in the womb is a gracious gift of God, regardless of any “abnormalities,” an intricate weaving of our heavenly Father.
We can bemoan the insidious killing of the unborn in our culture. We should certainly weep over it. But every kingdom of this world, from those first two born of Eve to the present day, has had a tendency to despise life and discard the weak and vulnerable. What we need to do is be advocates for life. That means caring, loving, and providing for those who are the most vulnerable. There are countless ways in which we can be a people who choose life.
On this day, let us cheer on those parents who are raising Down Syndrome children (and adults). Let us love not only with words but with deeds. “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom 12:10).