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Jacob walking in the desert
Jacob walking in the desert

Don’t Count Yourself Out

We tend to count ourselves out prematurely in life for a myriad of reasons. The arena and era of life don’t seem to matter. We are always tempted to throw in the towel because we aren’t good enough. It’s not hard to see that we don’t stack up, right? Want to complicate things even further? […]

We tend to count ourselves out prematurely in life for a myriad of reasons. The arena and era of life don’t seem to matter. We are always tempted to throw in the towel because we aren’t good enough. It’s not hard to see that we don’t stack up, right?

  • School: I’m not smart enough. 
  • Friends: I’m not pretty enough. I’m not funny enough. I’m not cool enough.
  • Sports: I wouldn’t have made the cut anyway What is the point of trying hard when I know I will just ride the bench forever? I can’t make the game-winning shot.
  • Family: I will never live up to my parents’ expectations. I probably deserved to get treated that way because I am the problem.
  • Work: I wasn’t going to get the promotion anyway. I was going to get fired eventually.
  • Faith: No way God would ever forgive me. No way God could ever use me.

Want to complicate things even further? What if you live with a disability on top of all the rest of the curveballs life already throws your way? I mean consider the word DIS-ability. It literally means you are “without” ability. Kinda confirms your worst fears. So why even try?

Life can feel heavy at times. And when we listen to the lies of the enemy it can feel downright crushing. Just trying to breathe can be difficult enough let alone trying to succeed at anything beyond getting out of bed and trying to get dressed for the day.

Want some good news?

God knows.

God cares.

God has plans for you.

How do I know this? Because the Bible is full of people whom God used despite not being good enough or measuring up to others. Want an example? How about literally every one of the disciples of Jesus. Every single one of them worked a regular job because they weren’t good enough to be taken on by a Rabbi and trained religiously.

To take it a step further God even used people that were downright should’ve been disqualified. Want an example? How about Paul? He hunted down and killed Christians before God decided he wanted to use him to be the world’s greatest missionary and author of a third of the New Testament.

So, if God hasn’t counted you out, don’t count yourself out.

But what if you have a disability? Remember the word literally means “without” ability. No way God can use you if you have a disability, right? Consider the Old Testament character, Jacob.

Facts about Jacob according to the Bible.
  • When Jacob was born, he came out of the womb holding onto Esau’s heel. In the ESV translation, there is a footnote that declares Jacob’s name means “he cheats”. (Genesis 25)
  • Jacob cheated his brother Esau out of his birthright for a bowl of soup. (Genesis 25)
  • Jacob deceived his father, lied, and stole his blessing. (Genesis 27)
  • Jacob ran away from and lived in fear. (Genesis 27)

Sounds like a bad dude, but what does that have to do with disability? Hang on! We will get there.

  • God promises to bless Jacob in the future. (Genesis 28)

Wait a minute! Jacob lies, cheats, steals, and runs away and God blesses him. That can’t be right! That is exactly what happens.

  • Jacob marries two women and has lots of kids. (Genesis 29)

Weird, but okay. What about disability?

Here is where the story gets interesting. Jacob ends up running away again. This time he runs away with his two wives, tons of kids, and all their stuff. He comes full circle and decides it is time to return home and confront his brother Esau. Remember the brother that he stole his birthright and blessing from. Yep, that guy!

The night before he prepares to meet Esau Jacob gets into a late-night wrestling match. It just so happens that Jacob was wrestling with God. Now you’d think that God would body slam Jacob straight through the ground and into next week, but that is not what happens. The Bible tells us that Jacob defeated God in a wrestling match. He held onto God until He promised to bless him.

God agrees to bless Jacob, but not until He stuck His finger inside Jacob’s hip. I know it all sounds odd, but this is where Jacob’s blessing and disability come into play. Jacob’s hip got so twisted that he walked with a limp for the rest of his life.

Jacob did NOT receive his full blessing from God until after God gave him a lifelong physically disabling condition.

It may be hard to process the reality of God purposefully giving Jacob his disabling condition, but it is undeniable. Please don’t lose sight of the fact that his disabling condition and his blessing are tied directly together.

Imagine for a moment every step Jacob took. He would take one step in confidence and strength as he walked into his blessing. Then every other step he would struggle to walk. The pain was so great that he had a noticeable limp. So, every other step he took reminded him of his dependence on God. He likely needed an adaptive device like a cane or walking stick to aid him along until walking became too difficult altogether.

What does that mean for you if you have a disability?

God has not counted you out because of your disability, so don’t count yourself out either! God uses all kinds of people to accomplish His will.

For Jacob every step after his wrestling match was a reminder for him.

  • Pain
  • Reminder of his need for God
  • Blessing
  • Pain
  • Reminder of his need for God
  • Blessing

And so on.

It might be that through your disability you find your blessing from God just like Jacob. It might be that you just need to take a step back from the lies that the enemy whispers in your ear and step into the blessings that God has planned for you. It might be that you just needed to be reminded of all the different people that God used throughout the Bible to accomplish His will. You are no different. In fact, you are probably far more qualified than murderers and thieves!

Whatever the case, I hope you think twice before you count yourself out next time. God hasn’t counted you out. He is waiting to do amazing things through you. Step into that blessed reality with confidence.

Originally posted November 3, 2023

About Ryan Wolfe:

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.
Read more by Ryan Wolfe

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