I used to pray for humility in raising my disabled son. I tried praying for patience once and that was a disaster (smile if you know what I’m talking about). Then I discovered that humility comes naturally with disability. You don’t even have to pray for it (I say that loosely). It just shows up when you need it most or when you think you don’t need it at all—which is usually when you need it most.
I am by nature a very prideful person; my son Jake is by nature a pride killer. I love that about him—usually not at the moment, but always afterwards in reflection. I love that about him because God loves humility and hates pride. I love that about him because even in his disability, he has the ability to be used by God as a messenger for my good and a vessel for God’s glory.
Truth is, sometimes we are so self-centered that we fail to see the most important things in life. Therefore, we fail to find true joy in things that are truly satisfying because we are so tied up with superficial cares. We are all guilty of this at one time or another. Jake takes my shallowness away and leaves me with real, lasting, eternal reflection.
And that’s exactly what humility does; it causes us to see what is actually significant in life—and what is not.
I remember hearing a pastor tell the story of the time he was invited to speak at a conference to hundreds of people about humility. He was going to be speaking to executives and CEOs as well as big church pastors and seminary presidents. So, he went out and bought a brand new suit just for the occasion.
He only paid $89.99 for the whole suit, but it looked like one that could easily cost $500.00 to $1,000.00. He was sure that all his contemporaries would be impressed and no one would know the difference between a cheap suit and an expensive one. The suit fit him nicely, probably nicer than any other suit he had. It made him look ten pounds lighter and ten years younger. As he got dressed in front of the mirror he thought, “I love this suit!”
When he arrived at the conference, he spent much of the evening before his sermon flaunting around the entire room shaking hands with important people, dignitaries, executives and such, thinking much of himself and his new suit.
Then, just before he was scheduled to speak, one of the pastors standing beside him pointed out something hanging from the sleeve of his brand new suit. There, dangling for all to see was a huge, 3x5 inch price tag with the numbers printed in bold “$89.99”.
Instantly, God made the humbled pastor the illustration for his own sermon.
Sometimes we are so concerned about what other people think and about our outward appearance, that we forget the message we are to deliver. And make no mistake, every parent of a disabled child has a message. It is a message of humility, dependence and grace. And from time to time we need someone to point out our pride so that our message will be more authentic.
Our message to the world is not, “I have it all together and I can handle anything that comes my way”. The message that should be preached by every parent of a disabled child is, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”. There are many other messages that follow, but all originate from the strength of God given to weak people for the magnification of His fame.
We carry this message to make much of God, not ourselves. And in making much of God, we allow people to experience His grace and love through us.
Parenting a disabled child is a mighty message of love, patience, servant-hood and humility. If you think about it, your child is actually the preacher of this message. You are just the translator to an audience that cannot understand the mysteries of God borne in trials they have yet to experience. But what an illustration of humble grace your family becomes to those silently watching.
So the next time your disabled child makes a mess of your image, think about the real meaning of the message God is speaking to you and those around you though this unlikely preacher of humility, dependency and grace. And keep the price tag on for all to see what a great deal you really got.