August 13, 2008

People With Disabilities/Sickness – What Is Our Purpose?

Posted in Devotionals, Stories, Update at 5:56 pm by Sarah Bosse

Below are excerpts from a letter I wrote to a friend who experiences chronic pain and debilitating disease every day….

I was talking to a friend on the phone the other day. I had met Bry at New Attitude this year – he has Cerebral Palsy and some days the spasticity causes him a lot of pain. He was asking “People who have disabilities and people who suffer from painful diseases…what are they to the world? I think God gives us a special purpose. So, what do we represent? How does the Bible speak of us and what we are to do? How do we point others (both Believers and non-believers) to Christ through our lives?” One of his answers to this question is that “…We, in our physical bodies, are reminders of the consequences of sin (death, sickness, pain, etc) to the world. We remind people of their sin and its penalty. Our physical conditions can be used by God to prod their consciences and show them that hope in anything but Christ is useless.” To his answer, however, I wanted to add a few thoughts of my own and more importantly, provide scripture. I hope that this is encouraging to you.

I generally agree with Bry. Indeed, the consequences of sin (of Adam’s sin into which we were born as well as our own) are evident in our bodies. But it is encouraging to see that God is working, and using even these consequences and results to bring us nearer to Himself and foster our dependency on Him. Last night as Bry and I were talking, I said, “It’s interesting to think of worship as something you do all the time. Instead of just thinking of worship as singing or making music, I think our lives and the hardships we face are meant (at least in part) to transform our idea of worship. Worship is obedience to God. Worship is bringing every thought, every action, every moment, to the Cross and surrendering it there so that God can use us as He designed and desires. Worship means going to God, second by second, and asking for His sustaining strength and grace – it means depending on Him rather than on ourselves.” This is what worship looks like in our lives, and this fact is brought out through the midst of our hardships. Hardships sometimes make it easier to worship as we find our weaknesses overwhelming…but even when worship doesn’t become easier because of our hardships, it certainly does become more necessary! Therefore, the same goal is accomplished – more worship!

My Gran said this regarding the same topic:  “… As afflicted ones, we are also living “vessels of mercy and grace”, as we learn to graciously receive both from Him and His Body. That doesn’t come naturally, but it is a learned grace which allows His graces of compassion and service to be utilized. And as we learn to humble ourselves and receive gratefully and with grace, it greatly exposes the sin of the selfish world around us, without a word. I believe this is one of our greatest gifts to the Church, once we learn the grace ourselves. Jesus said…the poor you will always have with you…and the afflicted, because they have a valuable service to render. It sounds to me like Elaine has learned this grace …. It was through the affliction of Mefibosheth that the compassion and faithfulness of David were exhibited, and this is an example of how He uses our affliction to create character in others, once He has created that clean heart in us.”

Thank you, my friend, for being a joyful worshipper. When “Lord, help!” is all you can say, is it not a beautiful recognition of God’s sufficiency which is more than able to satisfy the fullness of our insufficiency! You are such a wonderful example to me of the scriptures I’ve copied below. Thank you!

2 Corinthians 4:7-12, 16-18

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. …. 16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 1:3-11

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

2 Corinthians 5:1-11

5:1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.

2 Corinthians 5:14-17

14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.



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