Special Edition Blog Post
The season of fall is when many of us begin reflecting on all the things we are thankful for in our lives. Of course, we should always be giving thanks to God when we pray, as 1 Chronicles 16:34 tells us, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; his love endures forever.” We thank God for things such as health, family, our home, our job, and so on. We are grateful for all that is going right in our lives. Everything that is pleasant and what most people consider worthy of celebrating.
But what about the difficulties in life? What about those things which make us different? Do we give thanks to God for making us a certain size or shape? How about having a particular personality trait? Each of these makes us the unique individuals God created us to be, and thus should be celebrated. So also should we appreciate those who are different. Different sizes, different personalities, and even different ability levels. It is all too common for people to ignore or even look down on individuals with mental, intellectual, or physical disabilities. However, we need to remember that God created each one of these individuals just as He created us. The psalmist says, “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14). Every single one of God’s creations fits this description: fearfully and wonderfully made. This applies to that child who is confined to a wheelchair, that teenager who flaps his hands continuously and repeats everything you say, and the co-worker who struggles with anxiety and depression.
We need to be thankful for each of these people in our lives, as well as those who fit what society considers “typical.” We can be grateful that they help to grow our patience and faith, that they can teach us about true honesty and friendship. Children and adults with special needs can require extra patience and care. This should not keep us from welcoming them into our lives. Rather, we can approach the challenges as opportunities to grow. That child, teenager, or adult may have something to offer us. They teach us what it looks like to love someone who is not exactly like us. They allow us to practice patience and compassion. They help us to experience the world in new and wonderful ways. These individuals teach us to grow in grace; something the world desperately needs.
As the coordinator of the Special Edition ministry here at Grace Church, I witness the unique abilities and personalities of our students with special needs every week. They may come with some struggles and limitations, but also with open hearts and boundless love. I can’t tell you the joy these students bring to me and the whole ministry team. We learn so much from caring for and interacting with our special friends.
This season is the perfect time to start appreciating our uniqueness and enjoying how interconnected we are. In Christ, there is no us and them. There is only we, the body of Christ, and we are stronger together. We build each other up. We share the Gospel. Not only through our words but also our lives. We, the body of Christ, need each other and must be grateful for the blessing of our brothers and sisters with special needs.
Let’s celebrate individuality in our community. Be like Jesus by developing compassion and being more intentional about celebrating each persons’ inherent value to God. Consider these words from the New Testament, and live them out each day:
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ, we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:3-5
Director, Special Edition