How do you react when you see someone in a wheelchair? From experience, I’ve found reactions vary. I’ve seen people make eye contact with me, smile, look away and some even want to pray for my physical healing. It happened last Saturday when my mom and I went down to Orange County to visit my sister. We took my niece to the park. While we were there, a lady saw me sitting in my wheelchair. She approached me and said she felt led to pray for me.
“What’s wrong?” She asked.
I replied, “Nothing, I was born this way. I have CP.”
“What does CP stand for?”
“Cerebral palsy,” I answered.
I talked a little bit about Joni Eareckson Tada. She knew who she was. Then I said, “There’s more than one kind of healing. Suffering displays God’s goodness at Its best.”
“How so?” She said. The lady had been on disability from an illness for quite some time and still had many physical ailments. She was depending on her healing to come from one of those faith healing ministries on television.
“Many times, It’s the physical ailments and hardships in our lives that bring us closer to God. That’s when we depend on Him the most. I talked about the phrase, “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I explained how I learn things about Him, I might not have learned otherwise. I also mentioned how I often feel like many times I get to see the good God does in other peoples’ lives because I need help from others. I often feel people need more of a spiritual healing than a physical healing. The lady was intrigued. I think she was surprised I could talk.
I talked about the story in John chapter 9: 1-3. “You know when Jesus is talking to the disciples and they asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Yes, I know that story.” She answered.
I went on and quoted the next part; “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” What I was trying to emphasize is the blessing that comes with a physical hardship that never goes away. The lady was pretty locked into her thinking. In the end, she did pray for me and said, God bless,” and walked away. My mom was impressed that I was able to talk to the lady and answer her so well.
“Good for you. I think you sent her away with a strong message.” She said“Yeah,” I said. “Now, I hope she’ll go home and take another look at that story, and think of me and my story, I hope she searches more in the word of God and finds the deeper kind of healing.”
It got me thinking. People often feel sorry for me because I’m in a wheelchair. However, for me, it’s the other way around. I feel sorry for the people who are looking for complete physical healing and want to pray for me because they don’t understand the blessing an ongoing hardship can be. Many of the old church hymns were written by people who had physical ailments. Because of what the songwriters went through, the old hymns really have meaning. For example, look at the hymn, “To God Be the Glory,” by Fanny Crosby. She was only six weeks old when she lost her sight because of a doctor’s error. Later on in her life, she said: “I believe the good Lord, in all His infinite mercy, has through my blindness consecrated me to the work I am to do.”
Well said! My favorite part is the stanza where it says, “Great things He has taught us, great things He has done, and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son; But purer, and higher, and greater will be, our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.” She wrote that and many other hymns. I don’t think she would have written hymns like that if she didn’t have to lean so hard on the Lord for strength. The list of great hymns goes on and on.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I do believe people can get healed after many years of having an illness. I’ve seen it happen to a few people I know, and I’m happy for them. Praise God! I just don’t believe it happens in a faith healing service on television. If it does happen, it’s a miracle performed by God not man. God chooses who He will heal and who He will not heal. Those He doesn’t heal, I believe it means He has a bigger plan for their life and wants to use them in a special way. Jeremiah 29: 11 says,“ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future .” (New International Version) Another great verse is Ephesians 2:10 where it says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” One of the problems with faith healing theology is it gives the person with the illness or disability the impression it’s their fault. It happened because of a sin they committed. Nothing could be further from the truth! Again, read John chapter nine. I cannot emphasize that enough!
In one sermon a long time ago, my old church pastor Tom Givens said, “If those people on television really have the gift of healing, why aren’t they in a hospital helping people?”Tom Givens is in heaven now, but his words of wisdom have always stuck with me. His words couldn’t be any more accurate! For example, I volunteer at my local hospital twice a week and I haven’t seen any faith healers come. I’ve also heard Joni talk about when she first got injured after her diving accident. She went to a faith healing service. The light never shined on the section of people who were in wheelchairs. Why? Because the faith healer knew she couldn’t fix it! Many people walked away disappointed. Joni said it caused her to study the word of God more. Now she’s more satisfied with her life than physical healing could ever give her. As I’ve said before, I was born with cerebral palsy. I don’t expect it to go away while I’m here on earth. Instead of trying to get rid of it and spend my life being miserable, I choose to focus on what I can do rather than on what I cannot: as my mom often reminds me. Instead of always trying to get rid of pain, we ought to say, “What’s God trying to teach me through this? How can I use this to glorify Him? What are the blessings about this hardship?” Instead of cursing God in hardship, we should praise Him.
In my case, I can be thankful God pulled me through my birth. According to medical reports, I should be in heaven. I can be thankful I come from a loving Christian family who cares for me and has taught the gospel at an early age. I’m thankful I chose to embrace a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m thankful I’m able to help people at church and at the hospital. I can relate to people and have an impact on their lives that I wouldn’t have without the wheelchair. I can help people who may have to adjust to a lifetime of disability. In Philippians 4: 12-13, the apostle Paul says, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”
I’m glad people have a heart of compassion toward a person in a wheelchair. However, instead of praying for my physical healing, I’d much rather have people pray for my attitude that I would be content in every situation, and shine for Jesus. It’s not easy to keep the smile on my face. If I didn’t have God in my life, I couldn’t handle having cerebral palsy. It’s easy for me to compare myself to another person who has a lesser degree of cerebral palsy and wish I could do certain things, or dwell on memories of things my body used to be able to do that I can no longer do. However, the Lord calls me to stay focused in the present and be content in all circumstances. I need help with that more than anything!
Lord, help me to be content in any and every situation, and not get bitter when things get tough. Help me to remember it’s only through you I can do everything. Without you, I am nothing. Help me to embrace my cerebral palsy as a gift. Thank you for the many abilities you’ve given me. May I use them to glorify you with everything I do in my life. Help me keep my eyes focused heavenward toward you so that when the day comes, I will qualify to win the prize. I can’t wait to get my reward in heaven. Amen.
Here are some verses about having a new body in heaven:
2 Corinthians 5: 1-5: New International Version: ”For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile, we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
2 Corinthians 4: 16-18: New King James Version: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
If you’re interested in having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as your savior, pray this prayer or something similar:
Lord, I can’t handle my life alone. It’s too much responsibility. I need you to come and take the weight off my shoulders. Show me the bigger plan you have for my life. I need that deeper kind of healing. Please come into my life and show me how to be content in all circumstances. Show me how your power is made perfect in weakness. From now on, I choose to follow your plan for my life and not my own. I can’t wait to see what the big plan is. Amen.