Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
A Christian Approach to Those That are Differently-Abled and Celebrating People with Special Skills
2nd Corinthians 12:1-10
Key Bible Verse Text
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. 2nd Corinthians 12:10
Paul in his second letter to the Corinthian church in chapter 12:1-10 writes about his mysterious “thorn in the flesh”,
which he pleaded with God to remove from him. Three times Paul prays for the same in verse 8. Although Bible scholars don’t agree on the precise nature of Paul’s pain, it is evident that he was experiencing difficulty. Whether it was a physical sharp pain, an ailment, an infection that was incurable, recurrent episodes of epilepsy, or a chronic illness is still unknown. Some interpret it as spiritual temptations, ministerial challenges, failed attempts in the propagation of the gospel, etc. The scripture gives no clarity or clear evidence. Paul stresses that God declined his request and did not remove the thorn despite his earnest prayers for relief. Paul accepts it as he understands that God had a purpose for his pain and chooses to handle his thorns quite differently by trusting in God’s sufficient grace and in His power that is made perfect in Paul’s imperfections. Not only does he boast all the more gladly about his struggles, but he also delights in his weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, and in difficulties. And Paul goes on to say that “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
All of us live with some sort of a thorn that torments us. We might be living with permanent, physical, emotional or relational pain. We may suffer from a chronic illness, death of a loved one, misunderstandings, temptations, failures, spiritual trials, or other challenging circumstances. We may even live with multiple thorns in our lives. Like Paul, when our prayers for relief go unanswered, we can trust in the grace that God provides to us, which is sufficient to endure these sufferings. When we feel incapable of overcoming various trials that afflict us and when we cannot lean on our own understanding and rely on our strength, precisely it is then that we are able to trust God fully. It enables us to make room for God and to derive power from Him to hope against hopelessness. For when we are weak, He makes us strong.
Disability is the thorn which many people around us are living with. This week, we are meditating on the lectionary theme: Difference and Dignity of all Creation: Day of the Differently-Abled. Are we able to celebrate those with special skills and pray for those with special needs and their families? Are we willing to lend a helping hand to the institutions and individuals who serve as caregivers to those with different abilities? What is our Christian attitude towards our fellow brethren who face such challenges? Here are the “ABC’s” to better appreciate those who are differently-abled:
A: Approach with Kindness: Let us continue to offer compassion and courage to enable them to push forward in life. Love is what needs to be displayed towards them, not mere pity. We should share our strength with them and send out messages of encouragement. “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see” (quote by Mark Twain).
B: Believe in Their Potential: We ought to look beyond the outward appearance of people, so that we may look into their hearts. We should ask God to give us wisdom to realize their power and potential and accept their physical abilities or disabilities. “If God can use a man without arms and legs to be His hands and feet, then He will certainly use any willing heart!” (quote by Nick Vujicic – born without arms or legs; this limbless young man is the President of the non-profit organization Life without Limbs).
C: Consider Them as Overcomers: We should be willing to welcome and honor everyone regardless of their limitations, differences in body, mind, and spirit. We should treat them as overcomers not merely as challenged. As God’s creations, we are each endowed with individuality, and we all seek fulfillment and wholeness. We should celebrate the gifts of all our brothers and sisters, as we see the wonder of how God uses each one of us uniquely for His kingdom purposes. “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” (quote by Hellen Keller).
God of all abilities, we come to You as people blessed with multiple skills, different capabilities, and various faculties.
Give us willing and open hearts, minds, and doors to include and accept everyone into our churches and communities.
Grant strength to families that care for children with special needs. Bless the mission and ministry of the institutions that take care of individuals facing various challenges. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who sees the best in us and who looks beyond our limitations. Amen.
Thought for the Day
“We know that equality of individual ability has never existed and never will, but we do insist that equality of opportunity still must be sought.”
(quote by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States, who contracted polio and was permanently paralyzed from the waist down; he was known as the Wheelchair President)
Mrs. Neethi Prasad
(wife of Rev. Christopher P. Daniel, Diocesan Program Manager and Vicar of Jerusalem MTC, Connecticut)