“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Love and trustworthiness

I remember as a 19 year old, some of my earliest interactions with persons with disabilities. As a student at Wheaton College, I became friends with a woman in a Friday evening social group we ran for adults with disabilities named Paula. Paula had down syndrome with the accompanying mental retardation and sweet disposition. She liked to draw pictures with markers.

One day I heard that Paula was in the hospital for headaches. I remember going to the hospital and walking into her room. She gave a friendly greeting and we began a conversation (I don't remember what it was about). I was having a nice visit, when suddenly she began wildly flopping around on the bed. I had seen people have seizures before but this was something different. She was aware and crying as she would flail which isn't something you typically see with a seizure. I got the nurse, and after a minute or so she stopped and lay still again. I stayed and was able to continue the semblance of a largely one sided conversation.

When I left the hospital room I as very angry with God. It wasn't enough that he made this young woman mentally retarded, he also had to give here severe headaches on top of it all? It didn't make any sense.

To those who have faith the resolution I came to will make sense while to those who don't it may seem a cop out. But as I worked through this experience I came away with two characteristics of God that the Bible was crystal clear on and even to this day, I cling to these when I don't understand what I see around me. Those two principles are that God is love and that God is trustworthy. He loves me and he loved Paula and both of us can trust him, even though neither of us was quite sure about it at the time.

In the last few years of my life I have found that Proverbs 3:5 is the piece of wisdom which most encourages me, and gets me through situations when I am struggling. It says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, don't lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he'll make your paths straight."

The growth in my trust in God took a major hit and then made a significant jump in 1975, and has continued to grow to where it is now. In the same way that I was somehow a part of Paula's spiritual journey (through interactions, Bible study, etc.) she through her disability became an important part of mine.


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