Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Christian Approach to Differently Abled2 Corinthians 4
Differently abled is one of the more favorable terms commonly used in our Indian sub-continent for anyone born with a disability or living a life with intellectual and physical limitations. One must, however, be mindful that disability is not something that always may be apparent visually. It can be discreet, hidden behind the façade of sustenance and social acceptability.
In the Bible, sin and disability are concurrently associated in many references, which can be cited more visibly in the Old Testament compared to the New Testament. You can find a transition in Jesus’ approach compared to God’s towards disability being linked to sin. Jesus appeared to be much more compassionate when dealing with sin and disability. When the community raised fingers at Mary Magdalene for her sinful nature, Jesus raised her rather than banishing her with a curse and abandonment; contrary to what we see in the Old Testament. Another example was in John 9 when the disciples asked Jesus about the blind man whether it is a sin of the parents or the man that he was born blind, to which Jesus replied that it is neither the man nor his parents; it has happened “so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (v. 3). II Corinthians 4:6 says, “...Let light shine out of darkness,”. In Christ’s dealing, sin was reformed rather than disgraced; disability was healed rather than demeaned. Jesus did not carry a condescending attitude toward a person’s infirmity and sinful nature, which is evident in his teachings in the New Testament.
Time evolves and with it the practices of the world. Change and continuity are always God’s way of telling his children that he is always working in us and for our good. We, as His children, are born in sin and thus have our limitations. However, those constraints do not incapacitate us as we have received the abundant grace of our Lord to persevere and tread Christ’s way. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (II Corinthians 4:8,9). There will be moments when we are weakened by the trials and tribulations of the world; nevertheless, the Word of God comes to us, as the healer, to work wonders in our lives.
As Christians, our time should be defined by Christ-like principles. It may be challenging due to being born in sin, but our Christ has assured us from the parable of the lost son that he is always waiting for our return with His open arms. As Christians, we must provide support to anyone around us struggling with life’s challenges, irrespective of visible or invisible disability. Then, each second and every minute of our lives will carry life-altering testimonies.
Testimonies add value to a life of a Christian. My husband and I, parents to a twelve-year-old son born with a common intellectual disability called Down Syndrome, have been transferring our Christian values and lessons to our son through our actions and thoughts dispersed during family and societal interactions. I am sharing my testimony here as Nathanael’s parent; unlike other new parents who are filled with joy when a child is born, our life seemed bleak with the arrival of our son. The news of having a child with a disability was brought to us just a couple of days before the delivery. Every parent has certain expectations from their offspring; however, it seemed our plans had come tumbling down at that moment. Like any other parent, we asked, “why us?” without knowing the fact at that moment that we were the chosen ones for our son. Nevertheless, life moves on as our God had bigger plans for us as a family. Our Nathanael came as a miracle in our parenthood. He was our means of deeper communication with our heavenly father. Since then, there has been no turning back. Nathanael is the God-given light in our lives. He has been a blessing for us and those around him who accept him and include him for who he is. This God-blessed child taught us that happiness is not limited to what mortals want but accepting with gratitude and rejoicing in the unknown bounties provided by our Lord. God has taught us innumerable life lessons through our son in this period. Most importantly, God is always looking after his children; He will never give us distress more than what we can carry. He will give us divine abilities to tackle each situation with strength and wisdom. Our son also taught us that one could not take control of time and change positions around; however, one can seek His grace to make the right decisions and pass the timely lessons learnt in the journey to fellow humanity.
To conclude my thoughts with biblical verses taken from Ecclesiastics 3:11-14;
“...He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice and to do good in their lives and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God. I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing was taken from it...”
So, rejoice in the time you have been blessed and share goodness with others so that posterity can bloom from the seeds sown by you during your times. Time is incessant and moves on from generation to generation. Teach yourself and your children the good values of life to respect differently abled (seen or unseen). Let kindness grow in us to recognize the challenges people face and give support within our capacities to those who need it, irrespective of their disabilities or shortcomings. These words may be easy to say, but the more we practice, the more it becomes our habit by choice.
Blessings and peace to all.
Dear God, recognize the challenges people face and give support within our capacities to those who need it, irrespective of their disabilities or shortcomings. We ask all this in your Blessed Name, Amen.
Thought of the day
“Do unto others, as what you would like to be done unto you”.
Perth Mar Thoma Church, Australia