EDITOR’S NOTE: This first-person is part of a series of first-persons Baptist Press will publish in anticipation of the 40/40 Prayer Vigil for Spiritual Revival and National Renewal. The 40/40 Prayer Vigil is an initiative of the North American Mission Board and Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission to encourage Southern Baptists and other evangelicals to pray for 40 days from Sept. 26 to Nov. 4. To learn more, visit www.4040prayer.com.
FALLS CHURCH, Va. (BP) — Faith is a funny thing. It cannot grow unless exercised. And it cannot be exercised unless challenged. Sometimes, a temporary and uncomfortable situation is sufficient to force us to our knees. Dissatisfaction can be a great spiritual motivator. “Help us, Lord!” we pray. “Take my burden away!”
But sometimes, the challenges we face affect our very bodies and minds. Then, the practice of faith is not one of living struggle-to-struggle, but day-to-day. So it must be with the disabled among us — they who are tenderly loved by a Lord who, while on this earth, specifically ministered to the blind, the crippled, the injured. Those with disabilities are never unhinged from the earthly reminders of their broken bodies, and so their faith is ever challenged. What might this 40/40 Prayer Vigil do for them? Do they bear the potential for Kingdom work on a grand scale?
Yes. Because in part, praying for them actually changes us.
I once found myself pitying those with disabilities, overcome with sadness for their wheelchairs, or braces or daily challenges. Then, when my own son was born with autism, my view of those with disabilities changed. I reserved no pity for him. I told him he would receive no special treatment, and that he was expected to do his best, no matter how difficult the task. But inside, my heart burned with a tiny spark of self-righteous anger. “Why, God? Did you really think this disability was necessary in our lives?”
Yet who was I to be mad? Did I profess to know better than God did as to what purpose this challenge served our family?
Proverbs 3:7-8 says, “Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.”
What can we specifically pray for those with disabilities? The same thing that we can pray for ourselves: that God uses their situations to develop a dose of patience, a modicum of insight, some gratitude, more kindness, or the perseverance to get up and face the day when they — or we — would rather make a tent out of the bed sheets and permanently move inside.
This nation is desperate for healing. We are broken and soul-weary. In praying for those with disabilities, we learn that our frustration with the way things are is often just an expression of our own faulty wisdom. Trusting God, giving Him our hearts by accepting His plan for our lives can clear the pride from our eyes and return us to a right way of thinking. What really matters is not the circumstance or the disability, but the Great Design behind it. That kind of stuff is bigger than earthly wisdom, and enough to heal a nation.
Sarah Parshall Perry is a mom, attorney and writer who blogs about her son’s disability at www.chosenfamilies.org. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).