“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” ~ Psalm 119:71, NIV
God recently touched me with revelation when I was ill, left behind as the rest of my family attended church on a Sunday. In the habit of keeping a journal, I thought it might be a blessing to share with you:
Oh, how I long to worship in the house of the Lord today, but this awful cold persists. I’m cranky, whiny and exhausted from unending congestion, coughing and body aches. I am chilled to the bone despite wearing woolen socks and ample clothing.
As I write these very words, God’s Holy Spirit is revealing to me that He allows this so I might identify with those I serve. Imagine being unable to be with the wider Body of Christ every week because a physical, mental or psycho-social condition! Oh, the heartbreaking isolation! The nagging feeling that I am not where I am supposed to be!
And yet, this is how 80+% of those with some sort of diagnosis, challenge or special need can feel. It is something the rest of the Body of Christ can blow off and take for granted — church attendance. It is even something that those without this dilemma might consider a burden, looking to get out of going to church. Yet, that regular, consistent spiritual edification with others cannot and should not be underestimated. It fills our spiritual and emotional tanks to go out and face another week of life. It gives us significance as we connect with others. It restores our hope and redirects our focus to our ultimate destination beyond the troubles of this world.
This epiphany should add extra fuel to the fire of my passion! This should motivate me even more to energetically share the exciting news of how we can bring the church to those who are isolated from it. Our new Mentor Program is such a simple, but effective way to bring that hope of Jesus to parents who might otherwise not hear of it. Such a strategy is going “out into the highways and byways, compelling them to come” (Luke 14:23). And likewise, relentlessly sharing this news of the least of God’s children can motivate the local church to become more inclusive in a fresh way.
Oh, Father, if my isolation and suffering are what are needed to bring You all the glory You deserve, let it be so. I would pray that my church would miss me in my absence as it should the estimated 16% with developmental disabilities. My heart breaks from what breaks Yours! May I never flag in spreading this message You have called me to share! Help our churches to stop being exclusive, holy country clubs and become better reflections of Your love and relentless, humble service.