There are many sources of comfort in the Bible. One of my favorites is how clueless Jesus’ twelve disciples could be at times. They often asked questions that had to make Jesus wonder if He was getting through to them at all. We find such a question in John’s Gospel:
As He went along, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of Him who sent me. Night is coming when, no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” After saying this, He spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” He told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So, the man went and washed, and came home seeing. John 9:1-7 (NIV)
Jesus tells them their assumption is wrong. Not only is it not punishment, but the man’s blindness is intended to put God’s work on display. In this case, God was glorified when Jesus gave the man sight. Yet, even in the 21st century, people often ask, if not to punish, why a loving God would allow children to be born with disabilities or acquire them later? Because God can still put His works on display through them and they can feel loved by Him, even if He does not heal them.
In 1882, a 19-month-old girl in Alabama was stricken with an unknown fever that left her blind and deaf. Her reality was limited to using touch, taste and smell to eat when she was hungry. Until, that is, March 5, 1887. That was the day Helen Keller would come to call “her soul’s birthday.” It was the day her teacher, Anne Sullivan, came to the Keller home. Anne, 20 years old and herself visually impaired, would be the key to Helen’s prison. She would teach her to read and write. Helen Keller would become a prolific author and a devout Christian. Sullivan’s compassion, dedication and superhuman patience with Helen would make her a role model for those who work with the disabled.
On a mission trip to Haiti, I met children who were abandoned, discarded really, because they have disabilities. Disabled children are considered curses by many in Haiti. It would have been easy for the prominent Keller family to see Helen of no value or worse, to see her as a curse or sin punishment. Instead, they used their affluence to help her. As a result, God used Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller to inspire generations. She lived a full, rewarding life and died in 1968, just weeks shy of her 88th birthday.
It is God’s will to cure some disabilities. He shows His love for other disabled people in other ways. He asks the same of us; do not judge, do not devalue them nor pity them. Simply love them as they are. That act itself brings great glory to God.
“I seldom think about my limitations, and they never make me sad. Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times; but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers.” – Helen Keller.
This post is republished with permission from Oakbrook Church, De Pere WI.