There are many different forms of disability in this world, scores that are unnamed. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates put the world population affected by disability at 1 billion people, of which hundreds of millions are children. Greater than 15% of the population is experiencing disability. Given this statistic it is likely most people know someone affected by disability. If you know a person with a disability you see how much alike we are, but more than likely the differences stand out starkly.
Our response to disability is often one of discomfort. People don’t know how to respond, speak, or act around someone with a disability. There are glaring physical or cognitive imperfections that become our focus. Various reasons explain our responses, but having an accurate biblical perspective on disability is foundational to a proper understanding of the ultimate, imperfect similarity we share.
One of the most crucial points for any biblical discussion on disability is the Fall in the Garden (Genesis 3) – the sin of Adam and Eve. Because of sin we have all that we know of as broken – death, disease, disability, and struggle. Imperfection.
Since by one man sin entered the world (Romans 5) we have the affects of that original sin to this day, until that Day when Jesus returns. Because of the Fall even creation itself longs for things to be made right. In Romans 8:19-22 we read:
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”
Because of the Fall in the Garden we are all disabled. We are all imperfect vessels. We are disabled by sin. Only the blood of Christ washes away the ultimate effect of the sin disability – death. Only when we are with Him in Eternity will we be forever free from the struggle with sin. We long for His return to restore all things unto Himself. These broken bodies will be exchanged for perfect bodies in glory (I Cor. 15:50-56).
Because of our sinful heritage we are burdened with the effects of sin as manifest in this life through physical and spiritual struggle. We are imperfect people, all of us. When I think on how God has shaped our lives through our son’s disability I am reminded of my own disability and that God in Christ has given me His perfect Self as the ultimate remedy in all of life and death.
Our family praises God for the disability in our midst. God is perfectly sovereign over disability. God is perfectly good in disability. God in Christ is perfectly gracious and merciful in His working in and through the imperfect vessels that we all are. One day He will mercifully and joyfully give us perfect resurrection bodies. I long for that for myself. I long for that for the disabled. The hope of this full restoration only comes through Spirit-wrought faith in Christ as we respond to the Gospel (I Cor. 15:1-4).
We bare the common mark of imperfection whether disabled, diseased, or “normal”. That common mark is a sin-stain that needs Jesus’ saving and sanctifying blood-washing. Not a person alive or who has ever lived is outside of this birthmark, save Jesus alone. That is the most astounding statistic, 100% of people are marked by sin and the Gospel conquers 100% of its final effect. Jesus conquered death that we might live, being made perfect in eternity with Him (Rev. 21).
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
(Revelation 21:3-5 ESV)
In Christ alone will we all, as imperfect vessels, be made eternally perfect.