I often listen to podcasts of an NPR Radio program, “Speaking of Faith.” Yesterday I listened to one that touched me deeply about a community of mentally handicapped individuals. (http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/larche/index.shtml )
These people throughout life are limited severely. They have experienced much loneliness, rejection, pain, and grief, yet they are for the most part happy and enjoy the simple blessings of life. One person said that these people learn to live with their limitations gracefully, forgiving God for their design flaws.
I thought of myself and the limitations I experience in life. They seem so minor compared to these folks. Most of these people will never marry. They are frequently rejected by society. Most of my handicaps are private. I have a wonderful wife and family.
Mother Theresa said that when we work with handicapped people we go from repulsion to campassion and from compassion to wonderment. I think that we can go through the same process in working with our own handicaps. In the past I have thought of myself as a eunuch, without the normal attractions that those around me have, knowing that if most people knew of my SGA they would be shocked and treat me differently than they did. Then I discovered a scripture in Isaiah that gave me a different perspective:
Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.
The portion I put in bold print above Avraham Gileadi translates as such:
And let not the eunuch say, I am but a barren tree. For thus says the Lord: As for the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths and choose to do what I will—holding fast to my covenant—to them will I give a handclasp and a name within the walls of my house that is better than sons and daughters; I will endow them with an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.
Even though the world may view my SGA handicap as worse than a eunuch, in the eyes of God I am whole. He has given me sacred promises in the Temple and I know that if I hold fast to theses covenants these will be fulfilled. I should learn to view myself as God views me. I am reminded of Paul’s statement in 2 Cor 12:7-10:
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
I am sorry, but I cannot yet take pleasure in or glory in my infirmities, but I can push them out of my mind and focus on the wonderful blessings that I do have. And I can work to help those who do not enjoy these same blessings such as my other handicapped brothers and sisters. And I can try to help them rejoice in the strengths that they do have.