Once I was in a foreign country where the culture struggled with their views of people with disabilities. Most of them believed that this group of people were the lowest of society and were not valuable. Some of them thought that those with disabilities had done something wrong and were being punished.
As I came into a house, I met a young woman around the age of twenty who did not have legs. Her business was ironing. We became friends and I was able to show the love of Christ with her and even invite another to befriend her. That encounter impacted my life. This girl was so brave, she got up each day and worked hard even when many cast her out. Not only that, but she did it with a bright smile on her face. So what does the Bible say about those with disabilities?
This culture might feel far from America, but we too face an incorrect view of those with special needs. Doctors encourage abortions if there is a chance of difference. Families feel shame when they cannot be a part of events or socials that would be too difficult for their child. Students are made fun of in school for their differences. The church can sadly even push aside this group because of the extra work it takes to meet their needs.
Jesus set the example of inviting all people to Himself. A paralyzed man was lowered through the roof to Jesus (Mark 2). He also affirmed that the blind were not being punished for sin. “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him’” (John 9:1-3).
Exodus 4:11 says, “Then the LORD said to him, ‘Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?’”
This causes me to think about the verses in 2 Corinthians 12:9-11, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
When people live every day and choose joy that comes from the power of the Holy Spirit, they shine so brightly. Some of the most loving and kind people I have ever met are those with special needs. That attitude can teach us a lot about the heart of our Father. We may not always understand why the Lord has allowed these differences, but we can celebrate that He has a purpose for them and is using them for our good and His glory.
Whether a person is born with a disability, or obtains one later in life, God is greater than our small perspectives. He desires to use our testimonies for His purposes to draw people to Himself.
One example of a person from the Bible who had a disability was Mephibosheth. He was a son of Jonathan, and lost the use of his feet as a child. 2 Samuel 9:1 says, “And David said, 'Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?’” Ziba the servant tells David of Mephiboseth and David sends for him to be brought, to obtain all that belonged to King Saul. David honors Mephiboseth. 2 Samuel 9:7 says, “And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.”
The story continues, “So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king's sons” (2 Samuel 9:11b). This story encourages us that we too need to have a place at our table for all people.
Some of the most unseen people are those who carry the responsibility of caring for and loving those with special needs. I recently met a new friend whose daughter has autism. She shared how her daughter struggles socially in large crowds and so church can be a hard place to attend. I invited her to try a smaller church with me and she came. To our delight, that church has a sensory room for those who need it. Their decision to care for the needs of others and go beyond in paving a way for this family to have community and feel welcomed into the church body was absolutely beautiful.
We too can reach out. Think about someone in your life who is a caregiver and possibly overlooked for invitations. How can you be the person to reach out and invite them into friendship and do life together? It is so important for these unsung heroes to know that what they do each and every day matters. They are making a difference and they have a special role in God’s kingdom to love in great measures.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Halfpoint
Emma Danzey’s mission in life is to inspire young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. Emma is a North Carolina resident and green tea enthusiast! She is married to her husband Drew and they serve international college students. She enjoys singing, dancing, trying new recipes, and watching home makeover shows. During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Currently, she is in the editing stages of her first two writing projects: a Bible study on womanhood and a non-fiction book on singleness. You can visit her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com