Monday, August 6, 2007


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. ( )
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:

Isaiah 56:3-8

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.


GeckoMan said...

Thank you for sharing the Isaiah scripture, especially the newer translation: they have deep meaning to me.

We each need to feel we are special. I think it is part of our spiritual DNA. The truth is we all are, in our own unique ways. Those of us who keep covenants in the face of personal sacrifice, going beyond our nature so to speak, have this 'thorn in our side' for a reason. God knows the reason; it is a reason for us to struggle with and eventually appreciate.

My older brother was handicapped with epilepsy. He lived a single, lonely and conflicted life, even in the church. But he was loved by his ward, and had a great heart of service because of it. My poem, Outstretched Hand, describes my vision of his passing. I am convinced he was called home by our loving Father, in order to spare him further agony in mortality. Although he was far from perfect, I believe his reward in eternal lives will compensate for that which he suffered here. I guess inherent in that statement is my hope for similar compensation, if we do our part.

gentlefriend said...

Thanks for your comment. I looked for "Outstretched Hand" on your website but didn't find it. Is it there?

J G-W said...

This Isaiah text is one of my favorite, one of the very first to give me hope that I belong in the house of Israel, even if others do not generally recognize my place among them.

Particularly helpful to me was when I learned more about the historical context... The Levitical code specifically spelled out that eunuchs were excluding from worshiping with the congregation of Israel (as were people with any number of physical deformities). So when Isaiah proclaims what the Lord says to the eunuchs "who keep my Sabbath," that they would "have a place and a name better than that of sons and daughters," he is telling them something that ran directly contrary to the generally accepted interpretation of the Law of God of his time.

Chedner said...

And I can try to help them rejoice in the strengths that they do have.

This, in my mind, is the pure desire of a true follower of Christ's teachings.

GeckoMan said...

You can find 'Outstretched Hand' posted in my blog on July 3rd.

Jerry said...

I think the most important thing you said can be summed up in this paragraph..."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."

Often times in these blogs we read over these statrments as if we are hearing the same talks in sacrament meeting week after week, then we leave some trite comment such as we shouldn't judge and only God knows what's best for us. I don't know if we take anything with us or if we really do take the time to try to understand what is being said and not just how it was said. We are confident in our beliefs and we are guarded by our opinions.

I really found your choice of scriptures meaningful. But I wonder how many of us really "take pleasure in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions.” What an interesting question.

It's refreshing to read that someone can openly admit not to
find pleasure in or glory in my infirmities.

While I think its not the best method to "push them out of our minds," I feel its best to face them. Theres a fine line between facing them, dwelling on them, accepting them and overcoming them.

I think whatever course we take is a personal course that need s to be directed by the spirit but I think we also need to look at what we already know.

I think you are right on the mark when while you may struggle you also try to take the burdens or at least carry the burdens of your friend.

I think thats the best way to lose ourselves. I also think its the definion of a gentlefriend.