Six Good Lessons from Disability

“Why am I disabled” is a question many people must ask. For Dr. Christopher Ralston, Senior Editor of the Journal of the Christian Institute on Disability at Joni and Friends International Disability Center, the question reflects his choice to view his life through a Godward lens. In the Beyond Suffering Bible, which I’ve mentioned several times, Dr. Ralston writes an essay entitled, “Why Am I Disabled? – Reflections on Life’s Questions and God’s Answers.” In this essay, he mentions some of the good lessons he has learned from living with a disability.

  1. Patience and endurance – “As a person with limited mobility, I’ve had to learn to live with the fact that it will take me longer to get from point A to point B, whether I like it or not. Simple tasks…take quite a bit longer than they do for most people. Fatigue and weariness are often familiar companions. These realities have borne significant spiritual fruit.
  2. Ministry of comfort – “My experiences with weakness and limitations make it possible for me to care for and comfort others with the comfort that I have received from Christ (2 Cor. 1:4). He has used my disability to develop character traits in me that, in turn, provide opportunities to minister to and serve others in their times of need.”
  3. Accepting limits – “Life with a physical disability has forced me to accept my limits. Truth be told, this is an ongoing struggle….I have not always been able to accomplish everything in life that I might have liked. Like many other single people with disabilities, I have yet to find a helpmate and must face the possibility that marriage is not in God’s sovereign plan for my life.”
  4. Passion to defend the helpless – My experience with disability has produced a “passion for defending the weakest, most vulnerable among us—the unborn, the elderly, people with disabilities, and others deemed ‘unproductive’ or ‘unworthy of life.”
  5. Shaped my career path – “Much as I might have liked to become a professional football player or a fighter jet pilot, these options simply weren’t in the cards for me…given the way God has wired me, it makes sense that I’ve gravitated toward academic and intellectual pursuits.”
  6. Humor is a mainstay – “Without the ability to laugh at myself and the sometimes ridiculous situations that life can throw my way, things could get depressing very quickly.”

Christopher then wraps up this portion of his essay with these words: “None of this, of course, is intended to sugarcoat the realities of life with a disability. Without a doubt, having a disability can pose many challenges. For me, it has at times been physically draining, financially costly, lonely, and isolating. But through it all, God has always been my strength (Hab. 3:19).”

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