Sometimes God’s gifts come wrapped in grief. When you find yourself blindsided and reeling, you find that you have been issued an invitation into a raw intimacy with a God you never expected.
John 9 tells the story of Jesus healing a blind man. “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” people asked. “Neither”, Jesus replied, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
So often we waste our grief looking for a place to lay blame, instead of using it to open our hearts to the opportunities it presents. As parents of a son who has significant disabilities, we had to learn this.
We live in a culture that values virility, achievement and winning. We fight hard against weakness, aging and disease. We deny our own mortality and in the process forfeit wisdom. We rail against our suffering instead of allowing our souls to be softened by it. Ben reminds us that God chooses the weakest among us to reveal Himself.
It is the bending low to wash another’s feet that grounds us in God’s goodness.
Ben and others like him force us away from our culture’s utilitarian valuation of life into the sheer gift of existence. This is the gift he offers – that God offers us, through Ben’s weakness.
Ben changes everyone around him. Not by his looks or his personality or his talents, but simply by existing. In the presence of disability we must wrestle with hard questions. It is weakness that calls out compassion and in the caring, we are changed.
Ben reminds us that we are all the broken, the wanting, the weak; that we are all the needy ones that Jesus came to heal. Ben’s physical healing may not come until heaven, but in many ways God is healing us here and now as we care for him.
We are all created by a God who longs to display His glory in us; this Potter who turns weakness to strength, who makes the last, first and turns ashes into beauty.