In her acclaimed memoir A Good and Perfect Gift, author Amy Julia Becker describes parenting her daughter, Penny, who was born with Down Syndrome. Some people look at Penny’s distinctive features and see what is wrong with her. They compare her to an idea of "normal," and their ideas about people with differences and disabilities blind them from seeing the unique, clever, precious little girl Penny is. To Amy Julia and her husband Peter, though, their daughter is a gift from Jesus. In so many ways Penny—created in God’s image—reflects her Creator and makes Him known to others.
In the first century, disability carried a stigma the way it still too often does today. Many people in the first century believed disability was caused by sin. So a person born with a disability—one who’d not yet had the opportunity to sin—generated a theological debate. Encountering a man born blind, folks wondered whether his condition had been caused because he had sinned, or had he been afflicted because his parents had sinned?
Figuring Jesus just might have the answer, His disciples asked him that very thing. His answer was simple. To their surprise, he said, "Neither!" The man had been born blind, Jesus explained, so that God’s work could be seen, or displayed, through him. Since birth, God’s plan was for this man to encounter Jesus. In the opening of the man’s physical eyes, the spiritual eyes of many others would be opened to recognize Jesus as the Son of God.
The encounter exposes the difference between the way God sees and the way humans see. The ones whom we so easily identify as different—even sinful!— are often those through whom God’s goodness is revealed.
Apply the Word
Even today it is tempting to believe that the healthy and strong, the prosperous and beautiful, are those who bear the image of a gracious God. Choosing to humble Himself as a man and deciding to work through weakness, however, was the strategy of a mighty God who cares for the weak. How does God want to be revealed in your weakness?