God's Image Includes Disabilities!
Updated: Sep 12, 2021
Hi friends! One thing that I noticed in the church growing up, is the stigmatized and negative view of disabilities. Many people have a negative view of disabilities in the church because people understand that God is a healer. So when people come to church who are not "healed" in their sense of the word, they assume that the reason the person is still disabled is due to a lack of faith. Many people don't want to accept that God could intentionally create people who don't fit the norm. Many able-bodied, neurotypical, and sometimes even disabled people, don't believe that the way God created many disabled people is intentional, and also adds to the beauty and diversity of God's people. Disabled people are made in the image of God too! And that can be seen when we read the bible.
The LORD said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD?
Exodus 4:11 NIV
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,
1 Timothy 4:4 NIV
This passage of scripture shows us that it is God (not satan) who creates people with disabilities, and everything that God creates is GOOD and bears His holy thumbprint. This shows that God intentionally creates people with disabilities, and they are not a mistake or incomplete. They are beautiful and wonderful human beings who are supposed to be loved and treated with respect.
10 Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. 17 But take this staff in your hand so you can perform the signs with it.”
Exodus 4:10-17 NIV
I know that when many people see this passage they see the anger from God, but when I read it, all I see is the grace that God has given Moses. Moses had an insecurity surrounding his speech (which may have been due to either a physical or mental illness such as a speech impediment or social anxiety) and even though God was upset with him for doubting himself; He still allowed him to bring his brother with him. God accommodated him and made the task more accessible for him to do. And if He truly wanted Moses to do it on his own then He would have said that. God ain't got no problem speaking to us when we need to step up. But He helped Moses free His people with Aaron.
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
John 9:1-3 NIV
Personally, I LOVE these verses. I believe that they help to dispel any negative connotations surrounding the disabled community. So many people believe that disability is the result of sin or lack of faith, and these verses help to show that NO that is not the reason! And also that the works of God can still be displayed through disabled people! God is not hindered by disabled people. God can still perform miracles through them, and they can still be servants of Christ and can relay the Gospel like everybody else.
7 But to keep me from being puffed up with pride because of the many wonderful things I saw, I was given a painful physical ailment, which acts as Satan's messenger to beat me and keep me from being proud. 8 Three times I prayed to the Lord about this and asked him to take it away. 9 But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ's power over me. 10 I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 GNT
These verses help to show that Paul (one of the most famous apostles and writer of just about half the New Testament) was someone who dealt with chronic pain. Paul believed that if God took away this thing from him, then he could be a better Christian, then he could be all that God called him to be. But God was telling him that he already was! He could already do the work God wanted him to do, because God was with him. And God could perform more through him because he was dealing with this issue. His pain had allowed him to seek out God more and to rely on His strength to get him through the day. And my friends that is a perfect place to be with God in your walk with Him. When you are fully reliant on God He will show up and show out for you in ways you could never imagine.
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”
1 Timothy 4:8 NLT
This one is for my friends who are unable to get exercise due to their condition. Don't let anyone try to drag you down because of what you are unable to do physically. Spiritual exercises are way more important than anything going on in the natural. Place your focus on God and ignore all the foolishness that is being spewed out in this world. Because focusing on Him will reap benefits for you and the people attached to you, in this life and in the next life.
Don’t drink only water. You ought to drink a little wine for the sake of your stomach because you are sick so often.
1 Timothy 5:23 NLT
I love this verse as well because it shows the importance of medicine. For a little while in my walk, I felt like taking medicine was ignoring God's power to supernaturally heal me. I felt wrong to take it sometimes and I had a lot of feelings of guilt. But God had told me that medicine is important! God sent medicine to the earth for people to take it! God sent doctors and nurses and surgeons so that people would go see them! They are important and they were sent to us for a reason, so we might as well take advantage of them!
These verses have all helped me to see that God loves and created disabled people in His image too. They too can do momentous work for Lord with and because of their disabilities. God has a plan for all of us, and those plans can be done through disabled people as well!
Now I don't want to say all of this to say that God can't heal disabilities or that He never will. I know that some people have a negative view of their disability because it causes them great pain. I don't want to try to remove the hope from those who believe that they will receive healing. However, I do want to try to change your perspective of your disability. Maybe this disability is bringing you closer to God. Maybe it has made you more empathetic towards other people. Maybe it has brought you closer to your family or has given you the drive to seek out fulfilling and meaningful relationships with others. Maybe it has made you a better person in general. I just want to say that while you wait on the promise that God gave you (if He promised you that) that maybe you could take the time to enjoy where you are. Because maybe having this disability, has done something to bring out at least some kind of goodness in you or in your life. And that goodness doesn't have to look pretty on the outside for it to be good. Because goodness can show up as you finally being honest with God about the things you don't like about your life. Showing Him all of your struggles, issues, and pain. Goodness doesn't always look pristine, but it can certainly look constructive. To others, seeing a gutted house looks like a bad thing, but to people trying to redo their home, it's a needed and necessary step to get any work done. And again, I don't want this to come across as if I am trying to minimize your personal experience with your disability, but maybe God is trying to tell you something through it; that can help you and other people too!