Why does disability exist in creation?
This is a big and deep question that not all agree upon.
Most have the wrong approach to this conversation viewing disability as only a negative or something bad and therefore undesirable. They start from the premise of the “problem” of disability. This is the wrong approach because on several occasions Jesus clearly did not view disability as a problem that needed fixing.
This can be seen in both the actions and the speech of Jesus. An example of this can be found in the story of Jesus and the man who was lowered down through the roof on a mat (Matthew 9:1–8, Mark 2:1–12, and Luke 5:17–26). Though the man’s friends desired that Jesus heal him of his paralytic condition Jesus opts to rather forgive his sins instead. Yet another action of Jesus that negates the “problem” narrative is the fact that he did not heal everyone with a disability that he came in contact with (John 5:1-15) In other situations, individuals are brought to Jesus for healing and the words of Jesus reveal that he did not see disability as a problem. In Mark 10:51 Jesus says, “What do you want me to do to for you?” to a man who was blind. Jesus treated him with dignity and did not presume that he wanted to be healed of his disability.
So what do we do about the question of disability in this world?
The easy answer that most conclude is that disability is the result of sin that came with the fall of man (Genesis 3). However, Jesus himself teaches his disciples that disability is not the result of sin (John 9:1-3).
Here is what we can conclude from a careful look at scripture.
God wills disability or creates it.
Exodus 4:11 ” The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” Many do not like this option because it does not fit into a narrative that always makes sense or feels good. Despite that, our inability to make sense of it does not negate it and scripture is clear on it.
God allows disability.
Book of Job makes this clear. God permits suffering. It is not without a purpose. God allows the devil to strike Job with all kinds of affiliations and some very disabling conditions. Again, we may not like the idea of God allowing the devil free reign over Job but it does not negate the reality of what is permissible in the space of creation.
Disability is a natural part of human existence because of the natural decay of the human body.
The Bible tells us that death is the result of sin. The Bible never says that disability is the result of sin, only death (death of body & soul) Romans 5:12. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people because all sinned.” The fact of the matter is that all people will experience some form of disability due directly to aging if people live long enough.
Disability is used by God for a divine purpose.
For some as in the following verse (John 9:3), it is to show the power of God. For others, it may be to bring people to a point of surrender where they rely solely on God. This is not a punishment. This is for redemptive purposes. John 9:3 ” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Many allow their hearts to become hardened and hate God because of disability as they are unable to see His divine purpose in it. Their reaction does not negate God’s purpose in disability.
Disability is not a mistake or a genetic accident because of the fall of man.
Psalm 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” God makes no mistakes. To believe otherwise is to say that God is not in control. Though we do not always understand the ways of God does not mean that God is wrong or lost control of His creation. Also drilling down on this point God says that all people are made in His image (Genesis 1&2). That includes people born with disabilities. There are no exceptions and no mistakes.
It is Ryan’s passion to equip and empower churches, organizations, and individuals to reach their disability communities for Jesus. Ryan comes to Ability Ministry with 15+ years of ministry experience. He previously worked at First Christian Church in Canton, Ohio as their full-time Disability Pastor. He also worked as a Church Consultant for Key Ministry. Micah 6:8 and Proverbs 31:8 best describe Ryan’s commitment to life and ministry.