My friend Stacia has a son with multiple disabilities, and she shared at our recent Answers for Women conference about understanding her son in relation to the sovereignty and goodness of God. She recently wrote a blog post about her son and others with disabilities in relation to Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians about the body of Christ. What she said made me think and gave me a fresh perspective on those that we consider to be “weak.” I was so thankful when she gave me permission to republish her post to share with my readers.
A few weeks ago, Seth and I watched this video by a man whose son was born with multiple disabilities, including blindness. One of the points he made has really stuck with me. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Christians living in Corinth, writes about the unity we have in the body of Christ. While discussing how we all play different roles in the church, Paul says, “Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” (1 Corinthians 12:22).
Think about that in relation to those with disabilities: those we consider “weak” are indispensable in the body of Christ. Paul, an amazingly intelligent and gifted man, considered those who are “weak” to be indispensable. Not just “a good part of the body that we’re happy to have along,” but indispensable. Meaning the Body of Christ can’t function without them.
That’s certainly a different mindset than what we hear from our culture today—a culture that teaches the disabled are burdens to be borne and frequently disposes of them while still in utero.
One of the ways those who are disabled contribute to the body of Christ is through what we can learn from them—compassion, kindness, patience. I’ve already seen this with Kieran. My friend Georgia tells me that she’s talked to her daughter about Kieran and encouraged her to be compassionate toward him. This has carried over into the way her daughter treats other children in her life—she’s reached out to a girl in her class with mental disabilities who needs a friend. Would we know what compassion was if we didn’t have anyone on whom to show it?
I recently watched this video of Larissa and Ian. If you haven’t already, take a few minutes and check it out.
Amazing video, isn’t it? I appreciate their message of God’s sovereignty and goodness in the face of such suffering and the way God has been glorified through their lives, but the video left me wondering why. Why would this girl give up so much to marry someone who could give, in return, so little humanly speaking? They weren’t married—or even engaged—when Ian was in the car accident that caused his TBI, so why would she willingly choose to stay with him—to marry him—to pledge to be his wife for the rest of her life—knowing what that would entail—when she didn’t have to? He can’t offer her what most men bring to the table—the ability to provide for her, to be a strong protector … And yet, she married him. … Why, indeed? …
And, I’m coming to realize, that this is where those with disabilities may offer us, as Christians, an even greater indispensable service. Those who are unable to do for themselves, who need help with the very basics of life, who can’t contribute much if anything to a two-way conversation, offer us a glimpse of what we are like in the eyes of the God of the universe.
As I’ve been meditating on Ian and Larissa’s story, feeling unsettled and wondering why, trying to make sense of their lives together, I’ve also been continually brought back to the realization this is the way Jesus has loved us. Me. I bring nothing to the salvation table—the marriage between Jesus and His church. Nothing. I am helpless, unable to produce any type of work in the sight of the Holy Creator that would make me acceptable to Him or worthy of His love. I can’t provide anything that helps me along the narrow way to salvation. I have absolutely nothing to contribute to my salvation from sin.
And yet …
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4–7)
Larissa remembers the way Ian used to be—before his accident—and she longs to see him return to his former self and wants to be there along the way to help him. Because she loves him.
I suppose, in a way, this is a reflection of the way God is toward us. He remembers the way He originally created mankind—innocent image-bearers full of His glory, full of life, full of love and peace. And He longs to see us return to that original state of perfect harmony with Him. And He has provided the way for us to do that through His Son. What love. What amazing, incomprehensible love. I don’t understand it.
Thank God for His goodness in giving the indispensable weaker members to teach us of His great love toward us.
Thank you, Stacia, for sharing Kieran with our family and with others to teach us how we all bring glory to God in our broken, fallen state and for a beautiful picture of the Gospel.
Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!