Disability and the Gospel (Part 1 of 5)

Are You Serious, God?

(First Posted on http://irresistiblechurch.org/disability-gospel-part-1-5/#)

There are many things in life that make you scratch your head and wonder. Some things that you may wonder about are less serious – like, why is a pizza box square when a whole pizza is a circle, and a pizza slice is a triangle?

And then there are more serious things in life that you simply cannot make sense of – things like the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, or the large-scale loss of life that happens through terror attacks like 9/11. You may begin to question God. You may begin to wonder where God is in the midst of all this suffering.

Or what about children who are born with disabilities? Or good people who become disabled after an accident? Are you serious, God? Where are you in all of this?

You may also run across scriptures that make you scratch you head in disbelief, like the story of Abraham being charged by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac. I mean, really? Or, how about the popular Sunday school story of the animals getting on Noah’s boat for a fun ride? I have often wondered how this became a favorite in childhood Biblical literature. Do we forget that in this same account God wiped out an entire planet full of people and creatures?

So much of what we know, we struggle to make sense of in this life. But, for many of us working in the world of disability ministry, one thing that we do not struggle with is the fact that what we are doing feels like the right thing. Many who work in the world of disability ministry do so because their lives have been positively impacted by someone with a disability. Doing disability ministry is something that just feels right. We know in our hearts that disability ministry is somehow at the very heart of God Himself.

Many of us, myself included, often jump into disability ministry with both feet. We hit the ground running and are often swept off our feet. In the process we find ourselves so busy that we realize we never took time to ask why we are doing disability ministry other than the fact that we know it feels right in our hearts. We are wrapped up in the “how” of disability ministry.

After more than four years serving in full-time disability ministry I forced myself to stop and ask “why.” I asked myself, “What does God have to say in Scripture about disability ministry? Is there something I am missing? What don’t I know? How do I answer those tough questions from parents or pastors that argue against the legitimacy of disability ministry?” As I combed through Scripture I had great moments of celebration. I also had moments that I simply stopped, scratched my head, and said, “Are you serious, God?”

In my study on the theology of disability ministry I found answers to many tough questions. I found that that knowing “why” was vitally important. Without knowing “why,” we will struggle in the difficult moments when we have run out of knowing “how” to do disability ministry. It is the “why” that will keep us motivated when we hit a dry spell in ministry. It is the “why” that will keep us going when we encounter opposition in ministry. It is the “why” that will help us through those moments when we throw up our arms and say, “Are you serious, God?”