I sat across from a seminary student in a restaurant booth this Christmas, eating breakfast together while we discussed a theology of suffering. Suddenly, he leaned forward and asked, “How can you be so thankful in the midst of the challenges you face?” His question surprised me; I took another long sip of coffee before I began to answer.
It’s true. I have hard days when I am discouraged by the reality of my limitations. In those moments, I do try to make a conscious effort to be both positive and realistic. The more time I spend with others who live with disabilities, especially others who also live cerebral palsy, the more I am learning that the simplest things we do in life, the abilities we often take for granted, are the most profound. I am thankful that when I open my mouth I can speak and sing with clarity. I’m thankful that I can drive. I’m thankful that I can live independently.
I’m thankful that in my moments of weakness, God shows Himself to be strong and able. I used to assume that God didn’t care about the struggle people face when confronted with disability, because if He did, He would do something about it, intervening like Jesus did in the Bible. My mind has changed as I continue on my journey. I believe God is very near; He meets us in our struggle and walks with us in our pain.
Living with a disability has not taught me that I need God more than anyone else, but it has been a vehicle that has helped me become more aware of my need for Him. It has also helped me to hold a more eternal perspective. Our troubles really are light and momentary. Someday I will move with flawless grace, but until then, I love the invitation that Paul gives, to fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen because what is seen is temporary. What is unseen is eternal.
This song has been an incredible encouragement to me this week. I hope it will be for you too.
What are your thoughts on thankfulness?