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How Does God View People With Disabilities?

Author: Joni Eareckson Tada and Jack S. Oppenhuizen
Date: 07.05.2012
Category: Disability Concerns

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Originally Posted in English

Section 4a of Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 35 B

Hidden and Forgotten People: Ministry Among People With Disabilities

Prepared by Issue Group No. 6 B on Ministry Among People with Disabilities

Principal writers Joni Eareckson Tada and Jack S. Oppenhuizen

Pastors and their congregations often do not know how to “theologically” view disabled people. A solid theological framework is needed to understand disabilities and God’s sovereignty over suffering. Christian leaders are often confused as to the extent of God’s sovereign control over accidents and illnesses.

The Bible makes sweeping statements about God’s sovereignty over disabilities. For example, Exodus 4:11 states, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” As it concerns children born with disabilities, Psalm 139:13-14 states, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psychological and emotional disabilities fall under God’s decree (Deuteronomy 28:65-67; 1 Samuel 16:14; Daniel 4:31,16, 33-34; Psalm 6:3-4). Of course, Satan sometimes causes illness (Job 2:7; Luke 13:16) – but in these references, as everywhere, Satan unwittingly serves God’s ends and purposes.

No trial, no disease or illness, no accident or injury reaches us apart from God’s permission. When catastrophes of nature injure people, we are reminded in Lamentations 3:38, “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?” The Lord repeats this in Isaiah 45:7, “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.” In the New Testament this theme is repeated in 1 Thessalonians 3:3 where Paul writes, “You know quite well that we were destined for [trials]”. However, Ephesians 1:11 exclaims God’s upper hand by declaring, “[God] works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”

God may not initiate all our trials, including diseases, birth deformities and injuries, but by the time they reach us, they are His will for us for whatever time and purpose that He determines. When Satan, other people, or accidents bring us sorrow, we can answer like Joseph to his brothers who sold him into slavery, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.

While it is true that God is sovereign, it is also true that he takes no pleasure in our suffering. Lamentations 3:32-33 assures us that, “Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.” Comfort and the spiritual strength to overcome grief, affliction and loss is found that God weeps with us and that He is absolutely present in our darkest hour of need. As our Great Shepherd, He walks us through the valley of the shadow of death every time (Psalm 23). Yet, God permits what he hates to accomplish that which he loves.[1]

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Keywords: Disability ministry, Joni Eareckson Tada, suffering

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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Binu_John (0)

Story of my sister who was physically challenged by polio can be found at


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