|All God's Children: Ministry with Disabled Persons|
By: Gene Newman
God Does Not Create Accidents
The Question of Why?
Ask anyone who has been awakened out of spiritual slumber with an ice-cold splash of suffering. Why? is often the question. Why me, Lord?
In reality, those few words are rarely spoken out of a heart that is honestly searching for answers. Initially, the question may be voiced in resentment, bewilderment, or frustration. A person recently diagnosed with a disabling impairment or a progressive disease may clench his or her fist in anger against God.
There may come a time when these same people search through Scripture trying to discern the real purpose behind everything that has happened. Sometimes, though, they are compelled to face a verse like Romans 11:33: Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and his paths beyond tracing out!
Our Understanding Is Finite
J. I. Packer, in his book Knowing God, tackles this problem of our inability to understand the purposes of God behind every event:
Now the mistake that is commonly made is to suppose that the gift of wisdom consists in an ability to see why God has done what He has done in a particular case, and what He is going to do next . People feel that if they were really walking closer to God, so that He could impart wisdom to them freely, then they would discern the real purpose of everything that happened to them . If they end up baffled, they put it down to their own lack of spirituality. Such people spend much time wondering why God should have allowed this or that to take place . Christians may drive themselves almost crazy with this kind of futile inquiry.1
What makes us think that even if God explained his ways to us, we would be able to understand them? It would be like pouring million-gallon truths into our one-ounce brains. Even the great apostle Paul admitted that, though never in despair, he was often perplexed (2 Cor. 4:8). One Old Testament author has written, As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mothers womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things (Eccl. 11:5).
Yet, even though there are secrets the Lord your God has not revealed to us (Deut. 29:29, LIVING BIBLE), we are never lacking hope. There is an answer.
God Is Sovereign
Let Gods own words to Moses speak for themselves: The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or dumb? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? (Exod. 4:11). And hear the words of Jeremiah the prophet: Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? (Lam. 3:38). The Psalmist says, For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mothers womb . My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Ps. 139:13, 1517).
Scripture indicates that not only is God sovereign to physical injuries or illness, but he is Lord over the changes and alterations that transpire within the womb.
Does this mean that God wants disease and injury? The key here is how we use the word want. God doesnt want disease to exist in the sense that he enjoys it. He hates it just as he hates all the other results of sindeath, guilt, sorrow, and catastrophes. But God must want disease to exist in the sense that he wills or chooses for it to exist. If he didnt, he would wipe it out immediately.
So God is neither frustrated nor hindered by Satans schemes, but he permits suffering to serve his own ends and accomplish his own purposes.
There Is a Purpose
Although suffering is largely a mystery, it is not a mystery without direction. God has his reasons. Whether it is to mold Christian character, to stimulate empathy toward others who hurt, to refine ones faith, or to focus ones attention on eternal glories above, only time and wisdom will tell. The whole ordeal of our suffering is inspired by Gods love. We are not the brunt of some cruel, divine joke. God has reasons, and learning some of them can make all the difference.
The following story vividly illustrates how God often uses the most unlikely candidates to accomplish his will. It is written by Gloria Hawley, the mother of two mentally retarded children:
Psalm 127:3 speaks of children as a gift of the Lord and a reward. I didnt disagree with God, I simply refused the thought. Gradually, gently, Gods light began to invade the particular dark chamber in my mind. Finally I realized that all biblical principles apply to all people. Each individual must respond, by an act of his will, and apply the principles to his situation. So I determined to administer large doses of Gods Word to Laura and Craig.
They seemed bored, so I began to sing Scripture to them. Craig became helpless with laughter, while Laura smiled politely and put fingers in her ears. It became apparent that the children needed the Scripture to be related to their own personal frames of reference.
Laura and I began with the 23rd Psalm. Jesus is Lauras strong Friend and Protector. He takes care of her in a very special way. Laura cannot see Him but He sees her. She is His darling little lamb.
The paraphrase delighted and animated Laura. Her large, soft, brown eyes glowed and sparkled. Her smile was dazzling. Her attention span stretched as her understanding was kindled.
A miracle occurred.
Her teacher sent a note home: Laura is so animated; she is singing and telling the other youngsters, "I love you, kids! I love you!
Her speech therapist called: What are you doing with Laura? She is responsive and bubbly! My explanation was met with a cautious silence. ThenIf it works, do it. Send the Scripture along, and well work on it here too.
This shy, silent, fearful daughter of ours had begun her ministryto teach me; to exhibit Gods power; to bring Gods Word into other lives.
Laura particularly liked the end of the Psalm which, for her, stated: And some day Laura will go to live in Jesus house and be with Him all the time! They will talk together, and shell be able to tell Him how much she loves Him. No one will have to say it for hershe will be able to say it herself! Laura will live with her special Friend, Jesus, all the time. They will talk and sing and laugh togetherwith love . Psalm 23 is Lauras special Psalm.
A few weeks passed and Christmas was near. Craig loved the story from Luke 2. Enthusiastic and responsive, he received the Baby Jesus with gusto. The miracle repeated itself.
Craigs teacher called and, in tears, described how he had told his class about Jesus birththe star, Gods love, angels and shepherds.
Our little boy, his eyes shining with the light that split the heavens so long ago, spilled over with Gods message of unchanging loveto a group of abnormal children no one had thought to tell before.
Craigs ministry had begun.
Craig and Laura remain handicapped. God has not chosen to "heal them. He is pleased to use them.
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