Healing and Transcending Disabilities
〝In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.〞Acts 3:6.
I believe in miracles, which include physical healing of illnesses by the direct intervention God as exemplified in the text. Hence, at our prayer meetings, we do pray for healing as a matter of course, following the injunction of James to anoint with oil (James 5;14). A moment ago, we prayed for our god-daughter’s mother who was advised to check herself into hospital for dengue fever because her platelet count was low. We prayed for her and when she checked in and was blood-tested, they found it unnecessary to admit her because the platelet was at a normal level. We believe that God has intervened to heal her in that case.
However, I do not believe that God will heal everyone who calls on him or who has faith in him. The Bible tells us about Paul who apparently had a physical problem that was not healed (Gal. 4:13-14) and his mentee Timothy was apparently suffering from a stomach ailment (I Tim 5:23). There is no evidence that their ailments were healed. I also do not believe that we should ensationalize God’s power to heal. It should be part of our life of faith, praying for healing and at the same time seeking the best medical help we can get.
There is yet another kind of healing which I would call〝transcending disabilities〞. In such an instance, the physical deformities or other problems remain but we transcend them by refusing to allow them to hinder our desire to function as normally as possible. You will recall that I introduced Oh Siew Mei whom I met at a charity fund-raising event in these reflections. She transcended her cerebral palsy to climb Mount Kinabalu and publish her story in Scaling Walls.
I have mentioned having met Joni Erickson Tada whose first person story is recorded in her autobiography Joni. She suffered severe spinal cord injuries that rendered her a paraplegic since her teenage years. But she transcended her disabilities to become a published author, accomplished mouth-painter, recorded singer and a much sought-after public speaker. Her indomitable spirit has inspired many disabled people to have faith and hope in God.
I have also met the niece of Christina Tsai who wrote Queen of the Dark hambers. Her condition caused by a mosquito bite had confined her to live the rest of her life in total darkness because of her extreme sensitivity to light. Her testimony has had a tremendous impact on the lives of many
Taiwanese students in the United States, inspiring many to trust the Lord Jesus Christ. Many a depressed student with relatively minor challenges in life had been lifted out of their self-pity by the power of her joy of living for the Lord in spite of her physical limitations.
And recently I was introduced to Roger Crawford’s work. Here is another living example of a Christian who began life with serious disabilities. He was born with arms shorter than normal; with two fingers on his left hand and only one on his right. His right leg is missing the fibula and that foot has only three toes. His left leg was twisted at the knee so severely that he was unable to walk. He had to have it amputated and reconstructed at the knee. His rare genetic condition is labelled ectrodactylism. Today, with the stability of prosthesis, he is able to walk.
Wait a minute! Did I just say〝he is able to walk〞? That is perhaps the understatement of the decade! Roger, in fact, transcended his disabilities big time. He became an avid athlete, playing football and basketball. But his passion is tennis – he competed in the National College Athletic Association Division at Loyola Marymount University and once played a friendly game gainst tennis legend John McEnroe! And that is not all. He is today a fully certified tennis coach and instructor with the US Professional Tennis Association!
Here is a truly remarkable man who simply refuses to say,〝I can’t〞. Though his physical condition was not healed (he did not grow the necessary fingers, nor did his arms miraculously lengthen, and, still walks with a prosthesis), he has transcended his disabilities. If you asked him how he did it, he will tell you that it is his faith in God and his determination not to be a efeatist. He continues to speak and write about his faith, challenging his listeners and readers to 〝get up and walk〞 in the name of Jesus.
We need to take a good look at ourselves. How often do we catch ourselves saying〝I can’t〞when we are asked to serve the Lord in one way or another? What disabilities do we suffer from that cannot be transcended? Perhaps it is simply our lack of faith and determination?
Think for a moment how much we have in terms of good health and physical abilities when compared to Oh Siew Mei, or Joni Erickson Tada, or Christian Tsai, or Roger Crawford. If they can, dare we say we can’t?
Isn’t it time to say,〝Yes, I can, yes, I will〞?