4 Ways God Uses the Disabled

I remember the first time my young daughter saw a person with a disability.

 The little girl was about her age, and instead of running and playing like the other five-year-olds, she moved awkwardly with the aid of clumsy metal crutches. Instead of being straight and strong, her tiny legs were twisted and frail. “I feel sorry for her,” my daughter whispered, her sad eyes meeting mine in a sympathetic glance. 

“Her body may look different on the outside,” I told her, “but she’s just like you on the inside. I bet she’d make a great friend.” Emboldened, my daughter sidled over to the newcomer, and within minutes the girls were chattering happily. 

Over the years God has blessed us with many friends with disabilities. They challenge, inspire, and teach me. They humble me, too. Here are

 Four Ways God Uses People with Disabilities: 

1.  God uses them to model his love. 
David is a mentally challenged patient of mine. When he walks through the door, everyone in the office knows it. In a booming voice, he tells the receptionist, “You’re lookin’ good!” He cheerfully asks the assistant, “How you doin’ today?” He consistently affirms my boss, saying, “You’re my favorite dentist.” And with embarrassing frankness, he often tells me, “I love you.” He bestows equally fervent love on the mailman, the cashier at the grocery store, and the woman sitting beside him in the doctor’s office. David reminds me that God loves everyone, and if I am to have the mind of Christ, I should too. 

2.  God uses them to teach us. Kyle is a college-aged young man who is learning disabled. Every class he takes is challenging. An assignment his classmates complete in an hour takes Kyle three. He spends long afternoons in the tutoring lab and many evenings at home studying while his friends are out socializing. Kyle shames me with his determination and perseverance. I think of him often when I’m tempted to whine about something challenging or complain when a task takes longer than I expect. 

3.  God uses them to accomplish his purposes in our lives. During the last year of my grandmother’s life, she suffered from dementia. This cruel condition gradually robbed her of the ability to think, remember, and function. My daughters and I would drive two hours round trip to visit her every Monday. 

Some days she’d be awake, and we’d talk to her, trying to string together a conversation around her disconnected responses. Other times we’d spoon her favorite pudding or ice cream into her mouth, taking pleasure in watching her eat. Some days we’d arrive only to find her asleep or unresponsive. Often, it took everything in me to load my daughters into the car and make that drive, not knowing what awaited us. 

 Many people viewed my grandmother’s existence as purposeless. They felt she was no longer a contributing member of society. I knew better. God was using her life to impact mine. Those Monday visits built my character. The chance to help care for my granny taught me that we don’t serve people in order to gain something in return; we serve them because it’s the right thing to do. My daughters, who will one day care for me, learned how family members care for each other. 

4. God uses them to glorify himself. 
I met Jamie at a writer’s conference last year. Blind since birth, Jamie feels the call of God to be a writer. A vibrant Christian, she writes about the lessons God is teaching her on her blog, Encouraging Women

My disabled friends remind me of the biblical account in John 3. When the disciples came upon a blind man in the temple, they asked the Lord, “Who sinned, this man or his parents?” 

“Neither,” Jesus said, “this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:3). 

Jamie and my other “disabled” friends are living testimonies of what God can do with lives fully surrendered to him. As I watch God use them to model his love, teach us, accomplish his purposes in our lives, and bring himself glory, I marvel at how he places “his treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Cor. 4:7).

May we all be fortunate enough to be similarly “disabled.” 

What have you learned from someone with a disability? Leave a comment below and join the conversation. If you're reading by email, click here to comment.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this lovely reminder with the Thrive @ Home link-up!

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  4. Yes, disabled people are gems to our Pappa God. But, I have come to believe that not only can one be physically disabled, but also emotionally and spiritually due to emotional and spiritual abuse. The world does not always acknowledge their disabilities! Nice meeting you at Mindy's and thank you for a thoughtful post!
    Much love

    1. Mia,

      You're right -- we live in frail bodies AND minds, and it's important to acknowledge both aspects. Thanks so much for commenting today :)

  5. Thanks for linking up! Because I have a daughter whose special needs result from a neurologically degenerative disease, I appreciate this post so much! Pinned it to my board here:

  6. Rachel,
    Your kind word are so encouraging, especially coming from someone who's been there. So glad I found your blog. God bless!

  7. What a wonderful post, Lori. You had such wonderful living examples of each point you made. This is one of those posts that you've been writing for many years.
    : )
    I am so impressed with your visits to your grandmother. We so easily value people's lives by what they give us instead of the work God does in us as we give to them.
    Thanks for blessing my day with this post, Lori.

  8. Thank you so much for posting this. I met a woman in college who was blind and quadraplegic. She was witty and funny, so postive and up beat. I never saw her as disabled, she just had bigger daily challenges than I did.

    1. I agree. We all have challenges, but those with greater ones shame the rest of us who take so much for granted.

  9. Thank-you for posting this. It warmed my heart reading all these positive things about disabled people. You might like my blog (Tomorrow's post is about taking speech therapy class for my daughter) Have a blessed day!


  10. Anonymous2:34 PM

    I don't want my daughter to take care of me. I want her to be caring for her own children and husband.

  11. I used to care for girls with disabilities in my twenties. Just yesterday, really. I liked the parallels you drew to the things that God teaches us. In homeschooling my children, I know that I learned more than they did both academically and also in drawing closer to the Lord.

  12. Great reminder, Lori! And, thanks for linking up with The Bliss Project. Telling your daughter that they were the same on the inside, despite their differences, was a good call. Some of the kindest people I've been around have been those with disabilities.

  13. This was so incuraging to me as a special needs adult. It is nice to see people who love us regardless

    1. And thank you for your kind words. May God richly bless you, sister.

  14. I have a friend who is blind, and she does everything for herself, her home looks amazing, she colors her own hair, and applies her own makeup..and always laughing, great to be around. Makes me more thankful for the health Ive been blessed with.

    1. I agree, BlazeyHorse. I am often humbled by the amazing "disabled" people around me who accomplish WAY more than I can. They are an inspiration. Thanks for stopping by.

  15. I teach several classes in educating students with special needs, and I will direct my students to read and reflect on this. Thank you for your words.

    1. I would be honored, May my simple words encourage them. Blessings to you.