Appearances Don’t Matter: God’s Love for the Disabled

By Natalie Maxwell
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Little girl with special needs enjoy spending time with mother
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Before we adopted our son, those who only saw his disabilities told us that he would never give anything to us. They were so wrong. He has given us much more than we have given him.

There is a passage in the Bible that used to confuse me. It appears in Isaiah 53, and it describes the Lord’s servant – the Messiah: “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:2-3).

Is it just me, or does that seem wrong? I mean, this is the Son of God we are talking about. The first chapter of John tells us He was there at the creation of the world. He’s fully God … but also fully man. And that is where I used to struggle; with the “fully man” part.

If the Creator of the universe is going to come live with us and have an earthly body to hold all of His holiness and glory, shouldn’t that body be the most amazing form to ever step foot on this planet? Shouldn’t Jesus have been voted best dressed and most successful? Shouldn’t He have the most likes, the most followers and been the biggest influencer? Shouldn’t everything His holy fingers touched have turned to gold?

Skewed Perceptions

The fact that I used to feel confused after reading this passage speaks volumes to how skewed my perception was. I never would have verbalized this because my ignorance blinded me to my pride, but I used to find my value in appearances and accomplishments – which is why the passage didn’t make sense to me.

Then I met the 6-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who would become my son. People said he was so lucky to have me in his life, but what they didn’t see was how God was using this little boy to help free me from pride and legalism. Something clicked for me when I began to feel the love God had for this child – someone who the world told me had very little to offer, someone the world considered undesirable, someone the world … pitied.

God allowed me to experience the immensity and relentlessness of His love through loving our son – not because of anything that this boy would do for us, but simply because he was our son. Looking into his big, beautiful brown eyes, I began to know more fully the depths of Jesus’ love. When others look at my son through eyes of pity, simply because he is confined to a wheelchair, has different mannerisms and is developmentally delayed, it breaks my heart.

Who’s the Disabled One?

Before we adopted our son, we were given one last chance to change our minds. Those who only saw everything that our son could not do told us that he would never give anything to us. They were so wrong. He has given us so much more than we have given him.

I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve come into contact with someone who knows our son from school and heard how he has blessed their life and brightened their days with a simple smile that radiates joy, or the bold, childlike prayers that he offers to everyone he meets. Sometimes I look at my son and I think about how God looks at our hearts, and I often wonder if I’m the one with the disability. After all, I allow my fears and others’ opinions of me to hold me back in ways that my son does not.

Isaiah’s description of Jesus helps us recognize that appearances and acclaim do not matter in the eyes of our God, and that His Holy Spirit shows no favoritism. I believe that if we could fully grasp the concept that there is nothing we could ever do to deserve or earn the love of God, then we would not only be able to see God’s heart for those with disabilities, but also His heart for us all. And what could more transforming than that?

© 2019 by Natalie Maxwell. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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About the Author

Natalie Maxwell

Natalie Maxwell is a writer and an advocate for special needs and adoptive families. She resides in North Dakota with her husband and their five children.

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