One health awareness focus this month talks about disabilities and mental health.
Mental health is part of a broad category of disabilities – or as I have come to refer to it, mixed abilities. Mixed abilities involves the blind, hearing impaired, developmental disabilities, mobility impairment and mental illness. We are seeing use of large print bulletins, walkers and canes, increase in use of special parking spaces, hearing assistive devices – all ways that we are helping serve those with mixed abilities worship with us.
How do we view these areas of whole health? In the Bible, God has used handicapped people, disadvantaged people, and underdogs and to accomplish his work. Moses, who was slow of speech, was chosen to lead God’s people out of Egypt ( Exodus 4:10-12). Another example points out the apostle Paul admitting to having a thorn in his flesh, but even with this affliction, Paul accomplished great things by God’s power.
Another quote from Helen Keller that stands out for me: “Science may have found a cure for most evils, but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all — the apathy of human beings.” Joni Eareckson Tada, herself severely disadvantaged physically, tells us “Get involved in the lives of other believers, and let them get involved in yours.”
“The question is not how can we help people with disabilities, but a more important question is, how can people with disabilities give their spiritual gifts to us and call us to love?“– Father Henri Nouwen (LCMS Disability Ministry page http://www.lcms.org/socialissues/disability).
Another quote that can be found on the LCMS website:
“Many have learned that. . .
A person who hears less may see more.
One who sees less may perceive more.
One who speaks slowly may have more to say.
A person who moves with difficulty may have a clearer sense of direction.”
That All May Worship, National Organization on Disability
I pray we all heed and work toward achieving the dream of Isaiah: “…for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isaiah 56:7b)
The LCMS web site has excellent resources to help us in understanding this area of whole health. Log on to http://www.lcms.org/socialissues/disability, and look for more information on how we can better help those with special needs or health issues. Feed your awareness quotient! We all have mixed abilities that at times get in the way of whole health – physical, emotional and spiritual. We need to first and foremost remember that “the only permanent ‘disability’ is that of not knowing Jesus as Savior. Everything else is temporary compared to an eternity in heaven.
Bless your week in the arms of Christ Jesus who strengthens and preserves you for all eternity!
Cynthia Rutan, Parish Nurse at Peace, firstname.lastname@example.org