Shame and pride keep our disabilities safely tucked out of sight. In shame, we fear the humiliation of finger-pointing when others see our weaknesses, and in pride, we suppose that a show of perfection will elevate us to heights of success and acceptance.
Change in life can be extremely difficult. Change challenges us because it conflicts with what we wanted, or planned, in the fabric of our lives. Some changes cause us to adapt or adjust in little ways; others alter the course of the rest of our days. Autism. Cancer. Chronic depression or pain. Mental and emotional disabilities. Loss of a limb or paralysis. Aging needs. Care-giving demands. Each of these—and more—affect the social, emotional, physical, and spiritual condition of everyone in the family. The grief is unsearchable, the losses are immeasurable, and the stress and loneliness are unknowable.
But there is hope.
The path of suffering often transforms people’s souls when they are supported by fellow Christians. Jesus touched those who were suffering, attended to the disfigured and discarded, cared for the rejected, and accepted the different. As followers of Christ, we long to imitate Him.
Insight for Living desires to educate people about disabling conditions, to equip pastors, churches, and families with tools to serve those with special needs, and to offer encouragement and empowerment to those in need.
Like the Japanese art of Kintsugi, in which a potter creates priceless treasures by fusing broken pieces of porcelain together with gold, the Lord fills the cracks in our lives with the glowing gold of second chance.
Reframing requires us to mentally examine our assumptions, beliefs, and values; to emotionally adjust our attitudes and harness our feelings; and to cultivate new daily habits and routines.
Paul called his disability “a thorn in my flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). The downside of this “thorn” was the awful torment it brought. The benefit was that it kept Paul from being self-sufficient. The pain he endured forced him away from self-serving pride and toward an all-important discovery: “When I am weak, then I am strong” (12:10).
Every parent of a special needs child has more questions than answers. But our Heavenly Father understands and promises His presence. And there’s no question about that.
We are to walk humbly with God on the path of justice and compassion. We are not allowed to privatize our faith and care only for our backyard. A social conscience extends compassion and justice to all.