Did you do that on purpose?
“Did you do that on purpose?” Parents often ask this when they already know the answer – like when my kids wrote with permanent markers on the interior of my car, or when they cut the hair off a brand new doll. In these instances I knew they had done these things on purpose, but I asked the question because I was trying process what they had done. I wanted to know what they were thinking when they committed those acts.
As we continue to build our theology of disability ministry we must ask, “Does God really create people with disabilities on purpose?” After recognizing that people born with disabilities are not an accident and are not being punished by God, we can only assume that God is creating them with disabilities on purpose.
Here we find ourselves in another “Are you serious, God?” moment.
A tainted worldview says that disability is bad – we must not let this influence our perception. Scripture shows us that this is not true. We can see that disability is part of God’s plan. It is something that He creates on purpose, for a purpose.
Let’s turn our attention to Exodus 4 where we see God and Moses engaged in conversation. God is trying to build Moses’ confidence by establishing a clear plan for him and providing him with miraculous signs that will prove to everyone that God is with him.
You’d think this would be a pretty cool moment for Moses, right? Wrong. This moment caused Moses a lot of stress as he struggled with self-confidence. “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.’” (Exodus 4:10)
Moses is essentially saying, “God… Sorry for interrupting, but have you forgotten who you are talking to? It’s me… Moses. Did you forget that I’m not good at public speaking? In fact, I’m not good at speaking at all.”
Moses felt that because of his disability he was not qualified for the job. Moses couldn’t see past his own disability.
Naturally, God was not amused by Moses’ excuses. “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)
We see here that the Lord creates disability on purpose, for a purpose.
This is a moment where God could not be clearer; He lays the groundwork for a healthy theology of disability ministry. This passage should be a great encouragement for anyone born with disabilities. They are not a mistake. They are not being punished. God created them on purpose, for a purpose!
Many of us know the end of Moses’ story. God does use Moses to do great things. Through his leadership God leads the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, gives them clear guidelines for righteous living, and leads them to the doorstep of the Promise Land. God’s strength is made known through what is viewed as Moses’ weakness.
Genesis 1:26 also tell us that God creates people with disabilities on purpose, “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…’” Notice that God didn’t say, “Let us make people with high IQ’s and able bodies in our image.” Genesis 1:26 is an inclusive scripture. It makes it clear that all of us are made on purpose in the image of God.
So, if we are made on purpose, for a purpose, we must ask what that purpose is. Let’s turn again to John 9 for our answer. Note what it says at the end of verse 3, “…but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Our purpose is simple – to bring glory to God by allowing His works to be displayed in our lives. God can do this beautifully through disability.