Our Weakness and God's Strength: Disability Ministry in the Local Church
Originally written by John Knight and posted to Desiring God on August 2, 2011.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:25).
If you have or are considering a disability ministry at your church, Paul’s exhortation to remember God’s infinite capacities compared to our puny capacities should provide hope.
We simply do not have the ability to deal with the entire scope that is represented by disability in God’s human creation:
Disability ranges on a spectrum from mere inconvenience to entirely incapacitating.
Disability is found in every age bracket, though in higher percentages among older populations.
Disability is found in every economic bracket, though in higher percentages for those who are poor.
The same disability can manifest itself in entirely different ways.
Individuals with the same disability (or their families) can approach the issue in very different ways.
Thankfully, God gives us promises that apply to this arena of church and family life as you seek to serve. He is sovereign over every member of creation (Psalm 139:16; Exodus 4:11) and he will provide for all our needs (Philippians 4:19).
Of course there are ranges of needs and abilities in ‘normal’ populations as well. But one of the gifts of disability is that we live with fewer prideful notions about our own abilities. And disability, particularly in our comfort-demanding, pleasure-seeking, self-reliant culture, makes us seriously consider what it means to follow Paul’s instructions to the church:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Not one person in this culture (or most cultures) will embrace that idea of constant rejoicing in all circumstances — except those who have been passionately swept up by the love of God, understand what they have received in the forgiveness of sins, and live with an expectation of an eternity with Jesus.
And that is also why you can persist with confidence in serving and being served by those who live with disabilities, regardless of your own limitations. God will help.