First posted on http://irresistiblechurch.org/god-part-1-4/#
Accidents are part of life. Some people are more accident-prone than others – I am one of them. And my children are every bit as accident-prone as me, to the point that several years ago I took out a special Accident Policy with Aflac. This has proven to be a great investment. My children over the past two years have broken two bones, had a concussion, and knocked out two permanent teeth. I, myself, cashed in on a choking accident.
An accident is an unplanned event that often has undesirable outcomes. Accidents are a normal part of our existence. Perhaps this is why some conclude that people born with disabilities are accidents. When people have children they generally don’t plan for them to have disabilities. Many consider the outcomes of having a child with a disability undesirable. Dreams are often shattered the moment parents receive a diagnosis for their child. Yes, new dreams emerge and perspectives change over time, but in the moment people may struggle for answers asking, “Are you serious God?”
Looking through the lens of theology, what should we say when people ask if those born with disabilities are an accident? We are quick to answer, “No!” But, why is it “No?”
We can find our answer in the character of God. But before we jump into that, allow me to make your head spin by pondering a question from a philosophy class I once took:
Can God create a stone too heavy for Him to lift?
If you answered, “No” – are you saying that God is not all-powerful? That He can’t actually do anything He wants?
If you answered, “Yes” – you are actually saying that God is not all-powerful. Why? Because He is not powerful enough to lift the stone.
Some call this a trick question; I call it a flawed question because there is no right way to answer it. It forces you to come up with an answer that is contradictory to the very character of God. The question does not work because God cannot contradict Himself.
Are people born with disabilities an accident? As we look at the theology behind this question, we must draw on what we know about the character of God.
Let’s jump in with a big church word – omniscience. This word is hard to spell, hard to pronounce, and at times hard to understand. It simply means “all-knowing.” This is an attribute of God.
If God is “all-knowing,” then is it possible for someone born with a disability to be an accident? Remember, an accident is something that is unexpected and typically has undesirable outcomes. Based on God’s character I suggest that, no, it is not possible for people who are born with disabilities to be an accident. Because if they were, we would be saying that their disability was a surprise to God. This would be contradictory to His character.
Isaiah 46:10 says, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do what I please.’”
There is nothing from the beginning of time to the end of time that happens apart from God’s knowledge and will. He is omniscient. He is all-knowing. Therefore, He knows when someone is going to be born with a disability.
1 John 3:20b says, “God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”
God knows what will happen because He has willed it to happen. I know it can be a bit of a mind-bender to consider the ramifications of this, but Scripture is clear.
Because of the character of God and what we see in Scripture, we can conclude that people born with disabilities are not an accident.
Let’s look at another attribute of God to answer whether or not people born with disabilities are an accident. God is all-powerful, or omnipotent. He can do whatever He wants to.
Scripture tells us in Job 42:2a, “I know that you can do all things.” Matthew 19:26 says, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
So yes, God is powerful enough to do whatever He wants, even create someone with disabilities. This isn’t a surprise to Him or an accident because He willed it.
Next, we must begin to ask the question, why?