“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;” 2 Corinthians 4:7 NASB
One cool thing I’ve noticed over the years: a friendship forged with another special needs parent goes miles deeper and miles faster than the typical newly-formed relationship. I’ve made lots of friends through my typical son’s activities: the football moms, the homeschool parents, the church youth group carpool, etc. They’re all nice and we can chit-chat for a whole game, class or sermon with no problem. But put me one-on-one with another special needs mom and within an hour we’ve discovered some of the most painful or victorious moments in our whole life!
During a first-time coffee date with a sweet mom I met through church special needs ministry, my brand new friend admitted a great weakness she carried. If we’re honest, her deep dark secret is actually something that is quite common to many Christian special needs parents. As we chatted, the previous Sunday’s sermon came up in our conversation, which was about being salt and light to a lost neighborhood, family and community. She admitted that she often wondered what kind of witness her family could possibly be for the Lord. “No one can look at me and say ‘I wish I had her life!’“ She shared this confession as the mom of a daughter who is significantly impacted by cerebral palsy.
To my natural mind, that theory makes sense. The world around us will be attracted to Christ if we are perfect. The more perfection we exude, the more attractive Christian living should become. But that isn’t what the Bible says in 2 Corinthians! This verse recently jumped out at me to remind me of the opposite: the more flawed the vessel, the more of Christ’s power can be seen through it. An earthen vessel, particularly in Bible times, was the least fancy and the least perfect, not polished or near perfection. Paul writes to the Corinthians that our imperfections are by design and are for the specific purpose of showing God’s greatness of power.
What I explained to my friend that day was this: Everyone has struggles in life. The world is filled with flawed people who battle their own challenges. What they’re looking for is a way to overcome. The example they seek is another flawed human who has found a way to be victorious in spite of the struggle. Our lives, beset by extra difficulties, are the ones that when lived with joy and victory, speak the loudest of all to a dying world. Our witness for Christ can be even more powerful than that of a typical parent who has never faced the same mountains that we have faced. I assured her that when her neighbors see her family and her daughter, they can be inspired and amazed and yes, attracted to whatever it is that still causes her to smile when they pass each other on the sidewalk. The very next verse in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians describes the Believer’s witness in this way:
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”
If that sounds like your average weekday, special needs parent, take heart! That means you fit Paul’s pre-requisite for the perfect witness. You and your child are exceptionally qualified to be the salt and the light to the world around you.
Follow Melanie Gomez at https://redefinespecial.com.