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

Friday, March 05, 2021

Disability and the sovereignty of God

 I recently had the opportunity to do a sermon at my church. My topic was God's sovereignty, particularly in the context of disability.  I talked about how we support or "carry" others for whom the sovereignty of God is difficult, and also how to respond when it is difficult for us our selves. 

Should you be interested in watching the sermon, here is the link.

Responding to God's Sovereignty



Anonymous said...

This sermon was a huge push for the Christian community to take part in the other’s suffering, even when we may not be experiencing suffering! What a great encouragement to hear as a fellow believer. Christ was an example of obedience through suffering, whether the suffering be a disability or any circumstance that causes suffering. Christ suffered yet still was obedient to the will of his Father. Through his suffering, Christians can have confidence that God has a plan for suffering, even if that plan cannot be seen in the moment. Christ’s suffering brought about the pinnacle of hope for all believers: salvation from our sinfulness and communion with the Holy God. Christians can offer this same hope to all those who are suffering, not only at the moment of conversion, but in the moments when a heart is growing weary from the effects of suffering.

The fact remains that hard moments in life happen, whether it be to us or to those we love. I think we can take a page from Jeff’s book and remember to have compassion and patience for those who are disheartened in their suffering, knowing that even the strongest of people have moments of doubt and fear. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 states: “And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” In this passage, Paul acknowledges that there are those who will be disheartened and weak. His response, through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, is to come alongside such people. How do we do this? We “rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) Rejoice because God is in control. Pray because we can endure only by His strength. Give thanks in ALL circumstances because God’s power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 9-10). We do all of these things because this is God’s SOVEREIGN will for us in Christ Jesus.

Such wonderful encouragements were offered in this sermon. Thank you for butt kicker, Jeff!

Unknown said...

Hi Dr. McNair,

I loved your sermon and your emphasis how we can help those who are experiencing suffering. The Lord of the rings analogy you used, talking about how even though Sam could not carry the ring, he could carry Frodo and he goes on to carry him up the mountain. Even though it would’ve been easier for him the carry the ring, it was physically impossible. Many times we find ourselves wanting to take away the pain and the struggles others face, but it is physically impossible. Our job as outsiders, is to walk alongside them, be there for them, and carry them if they need us to.

When we experience suffering ourselves, it is important to remember that if it is God’s will, it has a purpose. This does not mean it would be hard, or it won’t be challenging, it means that even though we may not see the good, God ultimately has a plan. Jesus prays in the garden before he is crucified and he cries out, “not my will be done, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). We we are strong, we tend to lean on ourselves, but when we are weak, we are forced to lean on God. God’s power is not made perfect in strength, it is made perfect in weakness. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

-Helena Frederick

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this sermon. I think Proverbs 3:5 was a wonderful verse to remind us of God's love no matter what we may be going through. You were spot on with saying that we do put a lot of faith into the Lord and if we can trust him for the bigger things in life, we should surely be able to trust him with our daily lives and interactions as well. Sometimes as Christians when times get hard, it's easy to be frustrated with God and we begin to ask Him why He would let certain things happen. I know I was personally upset when my grandmother fell ill. She was an educator and made such a difference in this world and watching her be paralyzed for the last five years of her life angered me and made me question why God would allow something like that to happen to such a wonderful person. During this time it became crucial for me to lean into the Lord and not try to make sense of this myself. That was definitely a time when I felt like my faith was shaky, but I knew there was a reason for everything, even if I could not see it.

I also really enjoyed how you tied in carrying others through their hard times. I know I leaned heavily on family and friends when my grandmother passed. To me, being a good Christian means looking out for those who need to be looked out for. In difficult times, we cannot see what is happened, but having people with us on the journey of the unknown is crucial. By praying, suffering with others, and helping others to hold on to their faith, we can help others by being the type of believers we are called to be.

Anonymous said...

Wow! You are such a great speaker. You captured my attention right away! I loved this sermon. This sermon reminded me of my WHY! This is the reason WHY I want to be a special education teacher. I want to carry people through their suffering. I want to make the disabled feel accepted and loved because they too are God's children. I agree with you when you said, "When you face hardship or disability, people think you have done something wrong." Unfortunately, this is the sad truth. Many people think that if someone is disabled, then they are not worth our time because they are not created in the image of God. However, we are all created in the image of God. That includes the disabled. And if I have learned anything from EDU541, it is that God created each of us for a purpose. I believe that this sermon captures the idea and the reason for teachers. Teachers don't know where their students are going, or the plans that God has for them, but it is a teacher's job to carry their students through it.
On a more personal note, this sermon gave me a lot of encouragement. I loved when you said, "Trust in the lord with all your heart. Don't lean on your own understanding." I do struggle with a lot of hardships. It does seem like I am always facing detours. But I need to remember that God is in control and as I plan on carrying my future students, I know that God will be carrying me

Allison Rotundo said...

Dear Dr. McNair, I enjoyed listening to your sermon. The use of the Bible verse to be your foundation for this sermon was a beautiful idea. Proverbs 3:5 put it so simply that God loves His children through it all. I agree that faith in God is the most powerful weapon we can have. You were spot on with saying that we do put a lot of faith. I see that faith is not always easy to maintain in 100% fashion, but with the frustration that may come with hard times, it is important to turn to God through it all.

I also found it impactful that you made a point to tie in the concept of how you tied in the image of carrying others through their hard times. Being a good Christian means to me that looking out and caring for others just as God does for us is so important. In difficult times, we cannot see what is happening, but having people around to support us is a vital tool to have. Through prayer and helping others to hold on to their faith, we can help others by being the type of believers we are called to be.

America M. said...

Dear, Professor McNair your sermon was a breath of fresh air. Being a Christian now for two years I have traveled to many churches searching for a church to call home, as well as with the university choir and orchestra. I have listened to countless sermons by a variety of faiths and denominations. However, I have never had the pleasure of listening to a sermon inspired by the disabled community. It is amazing how many times you can read through the bible and gain a new understanding with each reread. It is easy to say that God loves all people and therefore as a Christian I love and accept all people. However, the reality is every person has a bias and the disabled community is extremely susceptible to this reality. Many people believe disabled people have done something wrong and that is why they have to live the way they do. However, this is far from the truth. God says he has made us in his image, all with unique qualities. Therefore, he has made the disabled and their life has just as much purpose and importance as everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Miguel G
Love the sermon, I really love the way you explain sovereignty of God. The passion you add behind the topic is full of energy. My favorite part of the sermon was when you go on and explain how God is in control. You said to trust the lord with all your heart because he is in control of everything. I liked how you mentioned that God either causse thing to occur or permits them to occur. I recall you providing a similar lecture in the 541 class which was very intriguing. Furthermore, my take from this sermon is that indeed we are all created in the image of God. On a personal note, I feel that since we are all created in the image of God and God allows disabilities to be present among us, then those with disabilities are also created in the image of God. I feel as if a beacon of light beams upon us, since we can to become sovereign individuals but perhaps claiming our sovereignty might be part of our spiritual journey. Sometime I wonder, if people are born with a disability from birth, then they are not at fault and they do not consider themselves to be known as having a disability. Perhaps that is the case with us, since we feel we are normal and different than those with a disability we can feel self-righteous hindering our spiritual growth. Additionally, we can perceive ourselves as normal yet in the eye of others we might have some type of disability and get viewed as an outcast. In turn, at times I wonder that perhaps individual sovereignty is achievable but as individuals we are like an instrument that constantly needs to be tuned to the appropriate frequency in order to achieve a nice resonance.