Whether from birth or the result of an accident or debilitating illness, a physical handicap can be one of the most trying of human experiences. The irreversible loss, the limitations, the stigma of being different from others, the humiliation of having to depend on others for even the simplest things, the big questions-“Why me, God? Why this?!” No one who hasn’t been there could possibly understand.
If this is you, take heart! There is One who sees and understands exactly what you’re going through. He cares for you more deeply than you will ever know in this life, and He wants to help you lead a full, happy, productive life that touches and enriches the lives of many others.
Once again, the secret is in absorbing God’s Word. His Word will give you courage to trust Him, and faith to believe that somehow this is all part of His loving plan for you. His Word will be a source of comfort and inspiration. His Word will put your life back on a positive course.
It has been said that suffering makes people either better or bitter. Those who dwell on their losses are likely to become bitter and end up losing far more in the spirit than they have lost in the physical. Bitterness is cancer of the soul.
But there are others who face the same tragedies and handicaps bravely. They refuse to give up, but rather strive all the harder. They call out to God for help and find faith, strength, and courage that others who seem to have everything don’t even realize they lack. Genius is born of their desperation. They beat the odds. They become a source of inspiration to the rest of us. By God’s grace, they help make the world a better place.
John Milton was blind when he wrote England’s greatest epic poem, Paradise Lost. So was Fanny Crosby when she wrote more than 6,000 hymns, including some of the most famous and best-loved Christian songs of all time. Beethoven was deaf when he wrote some of his greatest symphonies.
Helen Keller was both deaf and blind, yet she learned to write and even speak, and has encouraged and inspired hundreds of millions-“handicapped” and “whole” alike. “I thank God for my handicaps,” she said, “for through them I have found myself, my work, and my God.”
Contemporary examples also abound.
She weighed less than five pounds at birth, and contracted pneumonia, polio, and scarlet fever when she was four. She couldn’t walk until she was 11. Yet she believed she could do something extraordinary, and she did. At the age of 20 she was the only athlete, male or female, to win three gold medals at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. Wilma Rudolph was the “fastest woman alive.” She believed she could.
A serious traffic accident forced an 18-year-old Spaniard to abandon a promising career as a goaltender with the professional football team Real Madrid. Instead he spent nearly two years in a wheelchair. While hospitalized he took an interest in music after a doctor’s assistant gave him a guitar. Several years later he won a national song contest with one of his own compositions, “La Vida Sigue Igual” (Life Goes On). The success led to his first recording contract and opened a new career for Julio Iglesias.
Someone once said, “When God closes the door, He usually leaves a window open somewhere.” Your handicap could be your way out. It could be your greatest asset. It could strengthen your character and stretch your soul. It could spur you on. It could inspire new creativity. It could lead to deeper and happier relationships with others. Whether or not it will depends on you. Do you look at your handicap as a curse, or as an opportunity in disguise?
Don’t give up! Don’t drown in your sorrows! Make an advantage out of your handicap. Build a bridge out of your broken dreams, and set those ships asail again, even if they are tattered and worn.
God wants to use your handicap for His glory. If He doesn’t deliver you from it, then He must want you to put it to some good purpose. Find it.
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must-but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow-
You might succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man.
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup.
And he learned too late, when the night slipped
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out-
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt-
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems afar,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit-
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.