Can a child with cognitive disabilities ever really “get” The Gospel?

I’ve done research on the topic. Can kids with cognitive disabilities ever really grasp the truth of The Gospel. Can a child who struggles with abstract thinking or understanding a passage of text really understand and process the truth and freedom offered in God’s Word? Can scripture speak to a heart and a mind that might not fully receive anything else? Does God make a way to perceive His truth?

I’ve read and heard thoughts on this topic, but nothing has spoken clearer to me than God’s Word in Matthew 13:16-17…

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it. ”

The truth is, even the smartest people can completely miss the message of the Gospel. They may hear the message and roll it around in their heads, they may see it, but never really see. Why? Because until God and God alone opens our ears, eyes, and minds to His truth – it’s not really going to sink in.

He’s sovereign over everything. He knows who will accept His truth before it’s ever offered to them. He softens hearts and hardens them. He makes the confused to understand and those who understand confused. He’s the giver of life and stands over all understanding.

I may not get the theology behind it. I didn’t go to seminary and don’t pretend I did, but I do know a few things.

If God is sovereign…there’s no power in hell that can prevent my child or any other person from “getting” The Gospel. So really, the most productive thing for me to do is make sure I am readily scattering “seed” for my child’s soil and praying to The Lord that He opens my child’s heart to receive the only One who can water it and make it grow.

Ultimately it’s all up to Him. And because He hears my prayers and loves my child even more than I do, I choose to trust his eyes and ears have already been opened. And no cognitive delay or damage in his genetic makeup could ever trump God’s sovereignty.

Matthew 13:12 says, “To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.”

Teaching our children to listen and giving them someone good to listen to becomes key. I cannot control if they will hear or not but I can certainly offer opportunities for them to hear.

So if I were to wrap this all up with a bow, I guess I would say don’t limit God by thinking your child has limits on his or her understanding. Because He can blow the limits off of our expectations. In His timing, He’s got it all taken care of. So keep offering those opportunities. And keep praying for open eyes, and ears, and hearts. Because God has ways beyond our understanding and He specializes in working with a troubled mind.

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