Do you ever wonder why people are born with disabilities? If I were to be honest, I have these thoughts and I know many people have similar questions. One may wonder, “If God is good, then why are people born this way?”
I have many theories on things like this, but I imagine 90% of the theories I maintain would be nothing more than religious platitudes that seek only to push the issues aside and “Jesus” them away. In these conversations, it can be unhealthy to give canned “Sunday School” answers that are often spouted by people with the greatest intentions.
I do not really know why people are born with various ailments, malformations, and general physical obstacles, but I do know that so many times, people in these circumstances can bring the most inspirational value to the people around them. For instance, we may ask why Down syndrome exists, but if you have a family member with this genetic makeup, you know that people in this situation often love more deeply and enjoy life on a different level than others. I use these folks as an example because one could argue that many of them often have different hurdles to overcome.
People who are born physically or mentally “different” than your “average” person often do a lot to inspire the world around them. Now, don’t hear me saying (somehow) that I believe that people are born with disabilities, conditions, or ailments for our amusement or selfish gain. No, in fact the story in the Gospel of John comes to mind regarding the man who was born blind. The disciples asked Jesus why this man was born blind (thinking it was because of the sin of him or his parents). Jesus, however gave them a shocking answer. “This man was born blind so that the glory of God would be seen in him”, was the odd response. In this example the man was released from his life obstacle, but this also shows us that anyone’s story can be used for His glory!
My Uncle Jay was very much like this man described in John. Jay was born with cerebral palsy and early on his ability to walk was taken away. Despite this, Jay led a very active life. He worked, engaged socially with the world around him, and even dated from time to time. On top of this, he was a volunteer minister for a long time at his local church. He lived independently until several years ago when he entered into a nursing home.
We, as a family, knew that his life expectancy was much shorter than your average person, but when he finally passed away this year, he was just shy of 57 years old; which is far older than the doctor’s predicted.
Jay never complained about his lack of mobility or grumbled about his situation. He exhibited joy even when we knew he was tired and weary.
Funny story that turned into a lesson: In Jay’s final moments, we stood around his bed battling with the decision to remove him from life support. We gathered as a family and said goodbye as we cried together and shared stories of our life with him. The hospital wanted to give us our necessary privacy, and respectfully drown out any background noise of beeping monitors and nurses socializing so they turned on the radio. The music started playing and we weren’t really paying much attention to the words, but my ears perked up as the radio began to play “another one bites the dust” at the same time my uncle struggled to take his last breath. I brought this to the attention of the rounding doctor and the music was turned off. We had a little laugh about that, and it reminded us that there was going to be joy just on the other side for Jay. We were happy and sad simultaneously.
My Dad decided to choose the music and turned on a Christian station via a radio app on his phone. The song that played was “Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson. This song became our anthem throughout this hard time in our lives. It was also played at his funeral.
Here are some of the lyrics:
In the eye of the storm
You remain in control
And in the middle of the war
You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor
When my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me
In the eye of the storm
In my next post, I will dive further in the concept of dying. I know this seems morbid, but it can be joyful as well… All I will tell you is, sometimes, we all just need a tour guide…
Sometimes there is nothing more convenient that taking a little detour through your local fast food establishment, and picking up a greasy burger. No matter how much of a health nut you are, anyone can admit that the ease of picking up a cheap meat-fix is unrivaled by any other nourishment. Doctors will tell us that these meals are not a part of a recommended diet…and sometimes, when these health professionals tell us this all we hear is Charlie Brown’s teacher. In fact I think there have been times when my doctor has explained the dangers of this type of diet and all I could think about was who currently has a promo for a sandwich with a pretzel bun.
Since my family has been eating healthier, this type of eating is more rare, but it still creeps into our regimen from time to time. It really isn’t detrimental if it is extremely rare, and every one knows that moderation is key in this context. No matter how often I tell myself this though, it seems like I fall into old habits and it is just so easy to eat this way regularly. No matter how many times someone tells me that this lifestyle is okay in moderation, the temptation sucks me in. I have realized that I have to be extra careful. The truth is there have been times when I have been addicted to this food. It starts with one meal, then someone else will pay the next day, and then we get home late the next day and that time is supposed to be our last. We then reflect on our month, and it is riddled with cheap meals with little nutritional value. When we are in the moment, there are so many excuses…they seem to make so much sense.
Something else interesting happens… I have found that, when I eat this way, I become more lethargic about my health. It becomes a lower priority, and relaxing moves higher on the list.
When we are involved in sin, we see similar symptoms. Each action seems okay in moderation, but after a while we begin to make excuses for why we are entitled to feel the way we do. We become lethargic about our own transformation because it is too hard. You see, sin is a form of spiritual nourishment…At the time it seems so satisfying and a craving is extinguished for a temporary time, but the more we allow ourselves to be overcome by it, we realize the power it has over us. Our anger, unforgiveness, addictions, or pride seems justified at the time and the easiest thing in the world is to give into it. THEN, as we become more comfortable with this lifestyle of giving into temptation, we become less comfortable with healthy behaviors (i.e. church, fellowship, giving, prayer, etc). If we allow it to win, we then find ourselves feeding bitterness until we transform into a being we were never intended to be.
Stop making excuses and choose health over sin. God loves you too much to allow you to be hypnotized into death.
“You know what your problem is? You need to get into church…” This was a line from a very loud conversation going on behind me while I ate my lunch at my favorite restaurant a few weeks ago. The two ladies were good friends and you could hear the relationship in their voice. “I have tried to go many times, but things come up and I have been so busy… plus I have gone a couple times, for several months in a row, and they seem to really cast judgment on me when I miss a couple Sundays.”
50 years ago, in public, it was acceptable to call out people and tell them to get into church. It was a matter of spiritual health and in a lot of communities, it was expected. People took the concept for granted, and assumed everyone in Mayberry went to the Baptist church downtown. This is not the way it is anymore…People get uncomfortable when you tell them that they need something they may perceivably be lacking. In 2013, you simply can’t do this… Wait?!?! Is this true?
Actually, when you think about it, everyday, we see a similar campaign in every avenue of media. When, back in the day, you would see a television preacher on every major network, and churches packed to standing room only, you now see physical health/ wellness oriented programs that show how you can get rock hard abs in 5 minutes a day, and spin classes with waiting lists.
People don’t seem to feel judged when their friend calls them out for skipping their run for the last 2 weeks. They get back to it. When we hold people accountable to their spiritual growth, in today’s society, we are in danger of making people feel uncomfortable. Granted, we should not be hounding people (grace must abound) to get into church, but I just think we have it backwards.
The concern in our day (my goodness I sound like I am elderly) has transitioned from spiritual wellness to physical…that which is supposed to be eternal to that which is temporary (our body). The gym has become the church.
Let me just put a disclaimer to the above subject…Our body is a temple and should be kept in shape to honor God and what He gave us, but entire communities are now birthed from relationships found on the treadmill (and those who run marathons)…and many will not go to church because of hypocrisy they find inside (might I note those who do not follow their nutritional plan).
We have accepted, as a culture that we are in need of change. We are told that we should eat eggs and the next week we shouldn’t. I just think the change must go deeper than a number on a scale.
That’s my two cents.
In the last 7 days I have lost 5.5 pounds. You may want to congratulate me, but it has not been a fun experience. Have I been sick? No…actually I have been feeling very well. Have I discovered a creative new weight loss method? Nope. This result has come to me because somewhat of a change in my thought process.
You see I have been struggling with my weight my entire life. This fact used to be associated with a lot of hang ups and insecurities, but God has taken me through a great healing. A few years ago, I asked God to deliver me from this life of sin and addiction. Food is my vice.
I could justify it pretty easily. My grandparents, when they were alive, would make all of their meals from scratch and had a giant bar in their dining room in which they would lay out copious amounts of food. We would stuff ourselves until we couldn’t move. Until a few years ago, I considered that to be the main reason why I was in this battle. I have since realized that wasn’t the reason I was at war with myself, but it was only another battleground.
I have lost weight in the last week because I have made an effort not to eat things like cake, cereal, cookies, pie, or any other sweets before bed time. I have also decided not to over eat during meals. That’s it. No magic formula. It does, however, require self control (which I hate).
The interesting thing about this is… if someone would have told me that this was the answer then I would have sighed and asked them for a better answer. I am a representative of our society and we stand united in saying that there needs to be a more convenient, fast, and user friendly way of finding these sorts of blessings. Self control has become a villainous word in our culture especially when it comes to subjects such as food sex, or even money. Isn’t there a better way other than to hold myself accountable and enter into this battle for life? To be honest…there isn’t. Luckily there is a God who wants to continually equip us with the ability to say no to excess.
Self control is a fruit of the spirit… This means that out Christian live is proven by the fruitful behavior we are displaying. I want to be filled with type of fruit
Fruit….Ok now I am craving a pie filled with fruit filling…wait…SNAP OUT OF IT LANDON!