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

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Making their cry my own

Jean Vanier makes the following comment in his book, Community & Growth: Our Pilgrimage Together :

Often a community stops crying out to God when it has itself stopped
hearing the cry of the poor, when it has become well satisfied and found a way
of life which is not too insecure. It is when we are aware of the distress
and misery of our people and of their oppression and suffering, when we see them
starving and sense our own inability to do anything about it that we will cry
loudly to God: "Lord, you cannot turn a deaf ear to the cry of your people;
listen then to our prayer." When the community makes a convenant with poor
people, their cry becomes its own. (1979, Paulist Press, p. 124)

Obviously all people have problems of a greater or lesser degree. I find, however, that the problems of persons with disabilities are at times very difficult to solve. They can be difficult to solve for me personally, because to solve their problems implies a time committment on my part. I have to change my priorities to include them when I would rather take my ease, watch tv, or read a book. But I don't think I am called to take my ease as much as I would like when my brother or sister is in need. It truly is not about me. At least it is not about me, or should NOT be all about me, if I am a Christian.

But another aspect of this is that when I see human need, I also seen the insolvable nature of human need. Don't believe what the politicians or anyone else tells you...we will not be able to solve the problems of a fallen world because it is well, fallen. Sure I can help and I can lessen the pain of those around me by God's grace, however, I have come to believe that one of the reasons that there are people in need in the world is so that we will cry out to God. That we will seek God's wisdom, God's help for seemingly unsolvable problems. In my own little perfect life, with a good marriage, good children, good job, good income, good place to live and so on, I may loose the desperation of my need for God. I have become intoxicated by my blessings, and rather than look to the source of my blessings, or look to see if others have blessings or need blessings, I go home and watch the football game on tv. But bringing myself into contact with those in need, those who are alone, those who may even be suffering, reconnects me to my helplessness without God in this world.

This is yet another reason why the church needs people with disabilities. They have challenges in their lives and the lives of their families which can only be addressed by a cry out to God. We truly do "sense our own inability to do anything about it that we will cry loudly to God" if we are aware at all. We are brought to a point where we sit without the answers, in deep distress, calling out together to God. I think that is a place God wants to take me, to take us. He wants to challenge our securities with insecurities so that we will be forced to rely on Him rather than our own resources. He wants us to step back and look at our resources, be they emotional, intellectual or monetary and physical, and be a part of the solution for others.

When I am in an uncomfortable situation with a person with a disability because I don't have the answers, or can't communicate clearly, or am reduced to simply praying because I don't know what to do, I inwardly smile a bit as I recognize God is challenging me to cry out to him on behalf of this person. God is wanting to grow MY faith and the faith of the person I am attempting to support. Once again God has connected me to a hurting person and given me the honor to share in that person's frustrations.

But remember, the solution is not to reject those who make us feel uncomfortable. The solution is to get in there with them and share their experience, share their struggles, and perhaps make others uncomfortable through our allignmentment with a disenfranchised person. The typical response is to reject, to exclude because involvement requires change on my part or the part of the institutions I am a part of. The answer, however, is to work through the uncomfortable feelings, to reflect on them and understand them and to change with them as appropriate.




Anonymous said...

This posting hit close to home. I feel that many people/Christians only pray or connect with God when they are in need of something for themselves. If everything is good in their lives, people get complancent and take everything for granted. Why don't we just get up and thank God for all he does for us each day, every hour? Why do we wait to talk to God until we have a problem at work or with our spouse? When we are in need, a lot of time we just ask for help and wait. I don't think that a lot of people see struggle as a way of getting closer to God. They see it as a burden and want it fix. But why not try to fix it on your own with the guidance of God? Why don't we embrace our struggles as well as good times? I know we are not perfect and therefore we will make mistakes, but I feel that just as easily as we can ask God for help, we can stop and thank him for bringing us to work safely or getting to getting together with friends. More people need to realize that God is everywhere and acknowledge is Greatness.

Leticia said...

You have put your finger on the reason my people with disabilities like my daughter Christina (age 5 with Down sydrome) are often rejected by society via abortion (the abortion rate for Down sydrome babies is 90%). They make us uncomfortable, we don't know how to approach them or communicate with them, and we can't 'fix' them, so we say, "I don't want to burden myself with a child like that".
They should only know what they are missing! God reveals Himself in a special way in the 'littlest' ones of this world.

Anonymous said...

Why is it so easy to forget about doing good for others when things are going good for us? Sometimes people get so wrapped up in the day to day struggle of survival, that when things finally go their way they even forget to talk with God. But the minute things go wrong God is their best friend again. And that is a blessing each of us has from God, that we can always come back to him. Pick up that cross and carry it but dont forget when it gets light, others out there have a heavier one and need a little light in their lives, regardless of their mental or physical limitations. Thank you for the aricle Dr. McNair, I will remember this and hopefully live up to being a good Christian to others that are in need, because God knows I may be one of those in need one day and I would love to have friend like you.