Not too long ago it was a little girl in England who was denied a surgery because she is disabled. Most recently, it is a 10 year old girl who is fighting for a lung transplant denied because of red tape and an age policy. These are the worst nightmares of the families we serve.
Not every one of us in special needs ministry lives with a diagnosis under our own roof. While we may have specialized schooling, have credentials or have even grown into our role, we had better be certain we have a strong sense of compassion and empathy. Those we minister to desperately need someone to come alongside them and help them push through the angst of identifying with such current events. Imagine facing the reality that you may have to fight against the powerful forces of government or other systems just to get your loved one the basic, life-saving care that they need!
Despite the fact that our current culture likes to window dress in the compassion of telethons or fundraisers for hurting children, the current struggle of Sarah Murnaghan shows us that life’s realities are something quite a bit darker. Not every policymaker or executive is moved to action by watching a child with special needs battle for life. In fact, listening to the increasing number of esteemed speakers like Peter Singer of Princeton would show us quite the opposite. There are a frightening number of individuals who strongly push the case that the weakest and most vulnerable among us do not even have value or a right to exist.
I bring this to your attention, dear colleague, because you and I had better know what God’s word has to say about such things, and we had better be prepared to do some serious hand-holding. “Comfort, comfort my people,says your God.” (Isaiah 40:1, NIV) As in the times of Isaiah, we need to be pointing God’s people to a hope that lays beyond the sin and dysfunction of this broken world. We need to assure those we serve that the Lord is still loving and good even when a depraved humanity is not. And if need be, we must be prepared to fight with these families as well as walk them through the deepest darkness to the gates of heaven with those they love.
Friend, stay on top of current cultural events. Saturate your understanding with good writing by people like Randy Alcorn, Philip Yancey, and Ann Graham Lotz. Watch fellow leaders like Joni Eareckson Tada and how organizations like theirs stand on core values. This will equip you for the inevitable wave of events that have stunned and shaken humans since the dawn of time.