I have a disability. I use a powered wheelchair to get around. I require physical assistance to perform several everyday tasks that most people take for granted. Do I sometimes get discouraged about it? Yes, I do. Do I wish God would heal me physically like he has healed others? That’s a strong “affirmative”! Do I let my disability and these feelings about it rule my life? No, that’s God’s job!
When I was a few weeks old, a medical problem (one which may have contributed to my disability) could have killed me (in the earthly sense), but it didn’t – God had a job for me!
I remember one occasion when I was on my way to visit a friend in hospital. I do not drive; I was riding public transit. So I had time to contemplate things. That day, I was feeling low, mostly because of my disability. I looked up, and on top of a building was something that looked like a satellite dish; inside it there was a short, very visible message about God’s love (“God loves you” or “God is love” or something similar), which I viewed as a message to ME that He loved ME. Also, I was encouraged by someone I met at the hospital who was going through a tough time but was nonetheless trusting God. It seemed that God was working to bring me out of negative thinking into a more positive and energized state of mind, so that I could know and serve him better. He had a job for me!
Again in 1989, October I think, I found myself stuck in some snow and grass at around midnight during a moderate snow-fall, on the campus of the university I attended, with no way but my voice and prayer to try to get help. I turned myself over to God – I was ready to die. I essentially said (this probably isn’t word-for-word), “God, if you’re done with me here, that’s fine, I’m ready. Thy will be done.” Then, at about twenty to one, I saw a man come within earshot of where I was. I called to him, and he dug me out and made sure I got back inside where I called home so people wouldn’t worry, given that I had been expected home. While this man and I were “walking” (yes, the term “walking” is a common term in everyday language, and I use everyday language and expect others to use it in reference to me even though I actually “roll” instead of “walk”), I decided to test a suspicion of mine. I asked him something to the effect of, “Do you always walk the path you were walking when you found me?” He said that he “never” did! Alleluia! God was not done with me here yet! He provided, because of his love for me and because he still had a job for me!
A Christian brother recently referred to my disability as a “gift” because I can witness to others with disabilities with a high degree of credibility. I must admit, I have a hard time considering my disability as a gift! I tend to view it more as a “thorn in my side,” like the one Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians 12 (rendered here from the NIV):
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
I must admit though, that it is difficult for me to “delight in” this “weakness”, but I pray that as I mature in Him, I may learn how to do that (at least until He removes this “thorn”, be it in this life or the next).
As for my ability to minister to others with disabilities, God has, I believe, only just begun to use this; I have probably been slow to pick up on the power of it. I tend to view this as an example of what Paul says in Romans 8:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
That is, even though disabilities are bad things, God can turn them around and use them for good. He has a job for me!
Clearly, unless God dramatically changes things, I am not going to dig ditches or run marathons for a living. There is nothing wrong with digging ditches or running marathons for a living; God just hasn’t given me that ability; He does not ask me to do those things. But, I can program computers, and I can encourage and minister to others. Some people have noted in me a gift of ability to encourage others. If God has given me that, then I must use it like the first two servants given the talents in Matthew 25. God gives us each abilities and gifts that he expects us to use for His Kingdom, as exhorted by Paul in Romans 12:
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:3-8)
Finally, even though I do wish God would heal me like he has others, I think of Jesus’ words to Peter in John 21:
“Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is going to betray you?’) When Peter saw him, he asked, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.’ Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?'” (John 21:20-23)
So, why He heals some in this life and not others is not my business. Whether or not He heals me in this life is His choice. Whether or not He heals others is not my concern, unless He asks me to be an instrument of that healing. But, God has made two things clear to me:
1. He knows my limitations and what I need in order to be able to function and serve him with those limitations. While I do have a responsibility to be prudent and organized in my planning, in an attempt to deal with my limitations, I can trust Him to fill the gaps where my efforts are insufficient.
2. I don’t understand it all yet, but He has a job for me!
I hope this is an encouragement to all reading it. In particular, if you have a disability or some other situation in life that makes you feel limited or restricted, take it to God. Maybe He will heal you, or maybe He’ll say, “My grace is sufficient for you…” It may even take a long time (by our standards) to hear and understand God’s answer. But, know this: He has a plan for every one of his children. He has a job for you!
PS: I acknowledge that I used gospelcom.net’s Bible Gateway to quickly find and copy Bible passages. I ask God’s blessing on the ministry of gospelcom.net It’s homepage can be found at: http://www.gospelcom.net