Both of these postings provide great detail about the social consequences of disability.
I have been thinking about social consequences in reference to 2 Corinthians 12:10. It reads like this in the NIV.
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.This is the closing statement of a section where Paul describes the "thorn in my flesh". I am not a Bible scholar, but I don't think it is too out of bounds to think about the experiences Paul had in his life related to the quote above, at least in part due to his "thorn" his disability.
It is interesting to read the list of the 4 experiences that fall under the heading of weaknesses and think of how his experience of disability at least in part is reflected in those weaknesses.
In insults. There are so many forms of insult that persons who are affected by disability experience. Of course there are the out and out verbal insults, however, there are also the jokes, the mocking and the just general treatment people will receive simply because of their differences.
In hardships. Hardships are part of life for people with disabilities, just about independent of the type of disability one has. Many hardships are avoidable if society were only different.
In persecutions. There is much in literature which describes the experience of persecution that people with disabilities experience. Should they be Christians, they can only expect that experience of persecution to increase. Persecution is without a doubt a social consequence of disability.
In difficulties. Be they intentional or otherwise, the experience of disabilty is an experience of difficulty. One need only look at the various systems designed to help by governments and societies to get a first hand picture of difficulties.
So Paul understands the experience of living with the social consequences of disability. But his response to this is amazing. "I will boast gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." That is his response to God's telling him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
That is my prayer for people who are experiencing the insults, the hardships, the persecutions and the difficulties leveled against them because of differences they have in their lives which have come to be called disabilities. My prayer is that God's power would be evidenced in their weakness, be perfected in their lives through their weakness.
Let me also say, however, that my prayer is that we all will work to lessen the social consequences of disability to the degree we are able. Sure, God's power can be seen in the weakness of persecution, but I needn't be the agent of the persecution or hardship or insults or difficulties that people face. It could be that part of the grace God dispenses in the lives of persons experiencing disability is what I do in attenuating the social consequences.
But it should comfort you if you are reading this entry and you experience a disability that Paul, writer of books of the Bible, great man of faith, knows something of your experience, and in the midst of it, found strength to face the difficulties of his life through the grace of God, even seeing God's strength through his weaknesses to the point of making that a cause for boasting.