I have a disability. I have at times been known to be selfish or stubborn. I’ve lied, I’ve cursed, I’ve stolen, and I’ve abandoned. In short, I am far from perfect. Beyond that, I’ve at times stumbled over my words, missed the winning shot, been late, been absent, and I’ve failed at a handful of my dreams. All of these together are my disabilities. They are ways in which I fall short of fulfilling the potential that God has placed in me.
However, even though I have many disabilities I am in no way disabled. To be disabled would be to allow my disabilities to define who I am and in the process cloud who God intends me to be. For sure, my disabilities have provided many long and short term hurdles in my life but I know that I can overcome them because I am defined first and foremost by Christ.
Taken in this light, our disabilities can at times in fact become gateways to our greatest strength because they point us to the source of power: God. Our deficiencies can help us to realize that we absolutely need a God who can work in our lives and restore who we are meant to be. This doesn’t mean that we necessarily revel in our weakness but rather that we use it to see how God is building in our lives out of our need for Him, rather than how we have failed. When we do this then our struggle to grasp onto Christ and overcome our disability becomes a wonderful power which displays the providence of God.
A perfect example of this was when my grandpa, who was a carpenter and a small business man, had a debilitating stroke 17 years ago. He could have let the weakness define him but instead he leaned into the power of God to overcome his weakness. He re-learned to talk, walk, and live life, and as a result the remaining years of his life became a wonderful testament to never settling to be disabled.
We see this same mindset in Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 right after he has recounted his many trials and missteps. Yet amid them he realizes that God pushes him on by telling him that, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” And it’s because of this that Paul can declare: “I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”
In two days the paralympics will begin in London. As the second largest sporting event in the world, the paralympics wonderfully represent the idea that a disability does not mean that you are disabled. By relying on Christ our weaknesses can be transformed to strength. Yet this only happens when we refuse to be defined by our disabilities and instead submit them to Christ. In this, we are able to recognize how God uses them for his glory so that we not only may be restored, but also so that, like Paul, our trials may become a testament of God’s strength to others as well so that all may come to know the redeeming power of God.