As we all focus on disability on this NBCC Sunday for Persons with disability (PwD) the following few talking point will also widen our horizon on the subject.
Human desire to be whole, perfect and flawless is natural but to achieve it we cannot bring God the Creator of varieties under the human legislation of uniform civil code. Variation is the intent of the wise Creator in forms, temperaments, apparel, dimensions, mental, and spiritual aspects of the created. Cecil F. Alexander’s hymn, “All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small…the Good Lord made them all” is at point. Christian thinkers more oriented with what is called ‘theodicy’ tend to question the Creator as to why an Almighty and loving God allows pain, sickness, hardship, and death, including disability. Others who are more oriented with ‘cause and effect’ order of things would take disability as a result of sin committed by either the person with disability or by the family. This line of thinking puts God as the avenger, a tit for tat ruler. In either case the fact that disability is in the agenda of the Creator is negated or questioned.
Disability is a part of God’s intentional and purposeful creation and all that God created is good. Moses was a person with disability. God and Moses stood at a crucial moment, the urgency of delivering the people of God from Egypt. Moses was not willing to venture because he knew his disability and he reported this to God. Humanly thinking God should have removed all difficulties from Moses and used him. God just said disability was a part of God’s good creation (Ex.4:11). God did provide an alternative for the person with disability, Moses, by appointing Aaron to be Moses’ mouth piece. God would heal the disability one day but God allowed the disability to remain till such time (Is.35:1-7).
Paul, was such an outstanding witness of Christ, a missionary to reach the gentile world. Paul had a disability like thorn in the flesh for which he prayed at least three times to God to remove it from him. Humanly thinking God should, first of all, remove all impairments from Paul before sending him. God was not in a hurry to call for miracles to heal Paul. God said, “My grace is sufficient for you. My grace works in weakness”. In other words God wanted Paul to be in his natural state and depend on God’s grace.
We can think of many more such persons with disabilities who must be praying with tears and sweat without the expected answer. They should not think that non-healing is a challenge to God’s power and not the least, a disfavor of God. Throughout history there have been human attempts to conquer human impairments, even forcefully praying for miracles to heal them. Wherever there is a call for healing there humans flock around and seek healing. Many miracle workers also come up and invoke God to speed up healing of these imperfections and disabilities. God can, but God will not exhibit God’s power every time it is called for. Jesus also used this power judiciously, but not every time he was challenged to exhibit it. He himself was a wounded healer. He was counted among the persons with disabilities for our sake. Jesus had to pray earnestly to remove the sorrow and pain if it was possible but he left the choice to the Father. John Milton must have prayed much for the recovery of his sight if he was to do what God assigned him to do. Later, he realized that even those who only stand and wait also serve God.
Let us conclude this rumination keeping in mind that the persons with disabilities are very much inside the good creation of God. Whether a person’s disability was caused by developmental process or by accidental causes they still bear the image of the Creator. The Creator’s wish is that there be no walls between the persons with disabilities and the otherwise, have the same right to dignity of life, right to equal participation and inclusion in the society. This is more so in the community called the Church. While on earth God wants us to live in cooperation with the natural law but humans constantly appeal God to remove all imperfections and irregularities. There are constant calls for fasting, prayers and healing, some of the initiators even claiming powers of miracles. Healing has become the dominant themes in religious gatherings. If a religion is centered around healings, heroes, and miracles, that religion is folk religion and such religions do not go much beyond the needs of the individual and the locality. God’s will is not to heal always but to let God’s grace triumph in this world of weakness. Non-healing is not a sign of God’s weakness; it is an arena of God’s love, power, and witnessing.