I saw a video link on my friend’s Facebook earlier this week about a girl who was born with Down syndrome. Before she was born, the doctors told her parents she was going to have development issues. Her father, who claimed to have “superior genes,” wanted his wife to abort her.
This story grabbed my attention because:
- I’m a runner.
- I grew up with several great friends who had Down syndrome.
- I feel like God has some role picked out for me in the future involving special needs ministry.
- I just finished reading a book called, “Disability & The Gospel,” by Michael S. Beates.
If you haven’t read this book, you must. (I’m about to let a friend borrow my copy.) It’s more than just about individuals who suffer from internal and external health difficulties. This book addresses the subject of the hearts of all mankind.
One overarching theme in this book is every person is broken inside. Everyone needs Jesus.
The subtitle of the book is this: How God uses our brokenness to display His grace.
Here are just a few of the hard-hitting quotes I found in this incredible read:
Recognizing our essential weakness and brokenness is not a pleasant prospect, and our culture works hard to deny that reality and proclaim its self-sufficiency….Our culture, too, vehemently denies humanity’s desperate spiritual brokenness, and we hide our physical weaknesses.
Brokenness seems to be a prerequisite that God demands before doing lasting work through a person….
[Referencing American culture and reality TV shows] You won’t see on a survivor show someone in a wheelchair or anyone who admits to chronic weakness of body, mind, or soul. This survivor paradigm glorifies the self-sufficient.
But the biblical paradigm we have seen take shape is completely different. God says he alone is perfect, he alone deserves glory; all men are broken and weak and must turn to him for the satisfaction and sanctification of their souls.
Michael Beates points out so many biblical passages that address God’s sovereignty in disability. Here are just a few of those references:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)
The Rock, his work is perfect,
for all his ways are justice.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
just and upright is he.
(Deuteronomy 32:4 ESV)
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? (Exodus 4:11 ESV)
I am the LORD, and there is no other,
besides me there is no God;
I equip you, though you do not know me,
that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me;
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the LORD, who does all these things.
“Shower, O heavens, from above,
and let the clouds rain down righteousness;
let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit;
let the earth cause them both to sprout;
I the LORD have created it.
“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’?
Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’”
(Isaiah 45:5-10 ESV)
Why are people created with disabilities? How can God be good and allow these things to happen? Christians are quick to say God is good and sovereign in all things. (See Romans 8:28 above.)
Here are four reasons the author begs the reader to consider when evaluating God’s goodness and sovereignty in the lives of disabled friends and family.
God creates some people with genetic anomalies:
- for the sake of his glory;
- to show us our own brokenness and our need of his grace;
- because such disabled people present the church with the gift of allowing followers of Christ to serve them unconditionally – with no expectation of receiving back; and,
- to increase our desire for heaven.
I have been challenged so much by this book to evaluate my own heart before the Lord. How do I live before a holy God? Do I love serving others, including those who are unable to help themselves learn, live, and grow? Do I long for and passionately pursue the unity of the entire body of Christ?
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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV)