I hope everyone had a happy and blessed Easter or Passover, and that if you haven’t had spring break yet or are in the midst of it, that’s going well, too. Since we did just have these holidays, this is going to be one of my posts that is a little more God-centered than normal. It centers on the age old question, if God can cure disabilities, why doesn’t He? More to the point, why does He allow disability, and is it for the reasons we think?
God has proven, over and over, that He can cure disabilities, and that disabilities don’t have to exist. Read the New Testament; there are several accounts in each of four Gospels of PWDs who were completely healed. So naturally many people, especially today’s Christians, ask why God doesn’t seem to do that anymore. Christians, Jews, Muslims–people of all faiths–pray that somehow, the people with disabilities among them would be “made whole.” They entreat their gods for intervention–but one specific kind of intervention. The type that cures, that ostensibly heals. And often God, or Allah, or Krishna, or whoever, says “no.”
Why? Of course, we think we know. We as humans have dreamed up several explanations. We say things like,
“God allowed my child to have a disability because my special child needed a special parent.”
“My child’s disability shows the world who God is, because my child is so compassionate/happy/selfless. She never complains. He always has a smile for somebody.”
“My child was sent to bless others/is God’s special angel.”
“Disabilities exist because there is evil and suffering in the world.”
Now, are those statements true? I don’t know. I don’t know the mind of God. What I do know is, those statements reek of ableism, no matter how well-intentioned they are. That last one in particular gets to me, because while it might be theologically accurate, it implies an individual with a disability is a personification of suffering. I mean, who came up with that? What kind of God would create someone and say, “I really don’t want to do this to you, but I have to because the world sucks?” Again, I don’t know, but I don’t think that’s how God works. God is not an ableist. Nor is He limited in power; He doesn’t have to create PWDs. Due to free will, He allows evil and suffering, but that allowance is acquiescent, not permissive. He doesn’t create PWDs just because the world sucks. So there have to be other reasons, right? Right.
I don’t know what those reasons are, and I’m not going to try to explain them. What–or Who–I do know is the person behind those reasons. For me that happens to be God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Holy Spirit. So bear with me; if you have a different god, that’s fine, and I hope you’ll find some encouragement based on what I’m about to say even if it doesn’t reflect your belief system.
See, humans have gotten this whole earthly living thing mixed up, and I’m as guilty as anyone. We think because we are here, because we are the highest life form and at the top of the food chain, earthly living is about us. It’s about what we do to survive and thrive. As Solomon said, “Eat, drink, and be merry,” for tomorrow, we die. And I guess if you’re an atheist or agnostic, that works for you. Fine; live as you wish. But for those of us who claim a god, particularly the Judeo-Christian God, life is not about us. It’s about God.
That’s right. We’re here because God wanted us here, not because He had to create us. We’re here because He chose for us–every one of us–to be here in certain times and places, and that includes PWDs. Sometimes I really must struggle to remind myself of this, because I feel like a big mistake. As if God was going along fine and then some clumsy angel flipped a switch and whoopsie! I got CP. I even asked my parents one time, “Okay, so the only reason I have CP is because my heartbeat stopped during birth and the doctor had to get me out right that second. I wasn’t created like that. It wasn’t supposed to happen.”
My parents didn’t have an answer for me, and I still don’t have an answer myself. People have told me CP was God’s will, but I don’t know what He was thinking on January 7, 1986. I know He could see all, knew all, and knew I’d have CP. And I know because of that He didn’t say, “Crap, I blew it!” But would CP have happened if my heart kept beating? Would your child have Down Syndrome if you’d had him at 30, not 40? Would your child be blind if you had pushed her from the womb 15 seconds sooner? Who knows? And really–should we care? Maybe not.
Why not? Because if we, and if the universe, is all about God, He gets to say why PWDs are here. And maybe, like everything else, it’s for one big reason: so the universe and its people will know who God is.
Now, I don’t mean that in the hokey way Christians dress it up in (and other faiths too, I’m sure). I don’t care how happy and compassionate a PWD is, he or she cannot function as a 24-7 representative of God, or the universe, or whatever. But maybe, in looking at disability among all the other differences out there, among all people, we could understand God a little better. Maybe we would see a God who creates everyone with utmost care and purpose. Maybe we would finally see that disability is diversity, diversity is disability, and God says both are good. Maybe we would stop pitying and discriminating against God’s people and instead say, “That’s my brother. That’s my sister. I love them.”
People with disabilities, like TAB people, have opportunities every day to show who God is. Maybe one person does it as a missionary. Maybe one does it as a doctor, or a teacher, or a blogger, or a Wal-Mart greeter. They don’t do it just by breathing, the miracle of creation notwithstanding. They do it through life–real life, not the artificial life given to them by people who take control because their bodies work “normally.”
I don’t know why every single person, disability or no disability, is here. What I do know is, we all need the chance to say, “This is who I am, and I’m here because I was created this way. Isn’t that cool? Isn’t my God cool?”
Don’t waste your chance. Use it. You might change the whole world.