Are You Disabled?
Chaplain Gary Yarbrough
Shelby Baptist Medical Center
A few years ago, I read a book that, in my opinion, had a rather perplexing title: The Disabled God by Nancy Eiesland. Maybe the title itself had the same initial impact on you as it had on me. How dare she say that God is in any way, shape or form disabled. After all, the scriptures tell us that “with God all things are possible” and “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (Matthew 19:26, I John 4:4). During a difficult time in our lives, how often have we quoted: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). I have used and will continue to use and quote these passages of scripture as a source of peace and strength for myself and others.
There is a time and place, however, to see that things are not always clearly explained or understood in, as we say, the “real world.” In the real world, we experience paradoxes and ambiguities that stretch and challenge our faith. I have come to realize that there are so many things on this side of heaven I will never understand and on the other side, it will not make any difference. By that time, our faith will have become sight!
Eiesland writes: “It cannot be denied that the biblical record and Christian theology have often been dangerous for persons with disabilities. Today, many interpretations of biblical passages and Christian theologies continue to reinforce negative stereotypes, support social and environmental segregation, and mask the lived realities of people with disabilities” (p. 74).
For “able-bodied” persons without physical, emotional or mental disabilities, it is too easy to see others as less-than or not “normal.” In truth, if we live long enough, we will recognize our own imperfections and dis-ableness. The believing and professing Church now has an opportunity to serve a broken and imperfect world through Christ who, from the cross, was dis-abled for the sins of the world.
Prayer: Lord of the able and dis-abled, breathe new life and hope into your creation; into those of us who recognize our imperfections and total dependence upon You. May we find in You and in You alone, our source of perfect peace even in the midst of our own brokenness. Amen.