Recently our daughter Nicole, who is 21, spent a few days in the hospital. Because she has several impairments that resulted from her extremely premature birth, she cannot speak for herself. So my wife or I remained with her nearly every hour of her stay.
Even with excellent staff, hospitals can leave you feeling powerless and frustrated. As the days dragged by, I wondered, “If I feel frustrated, what must this feel like for Nicole?”
Besides all the strangers rambling in and out of her room at all hours to pull off and replace sticky bandages and check vitals, Nicole could not control even the most basic things: whether she wanted the curtains open or closed, what she wanted for her meals, whether she would prefer to look at a book or watch a video, whether she wanted the blankets on or off. As parents the best we could do was guess what she would like.
Through the frustration I wondered, Can God understand me in this situation? Even more, can he understand Nicole in her severe limitation?
The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was “made like his brothers and sisters in every way” (2:17, TNIV). But can almighty God truly understand human limitations, even long-term limitations we call disabilities?
Yes, in fact, God can, because the second person of the Trinity—Jesus the Son of God—became disabled in several ways.
To understand how Jesus became disabled, we need to understand what we mean by disability. A person with a disability has a long-term impairment compared to his or her peers. There is, of course, much more to say about disability, but this is the first part. A disability is not just an impairment, but an impairment compared to your peers.
For example, one of my impairments is that I cannot leap tall buildings in a single bound. But since my peers cannot do this either, then this “impairment” is not considered a disability. However, if I could not walk and had no prospect of ever walking again, then my inability to walk would be considered a disability because most of my peers can walk.
About 20 percent of the people in North America live with long-term limitations of sight, hearing, intellect, mobility, or emotion, which we call disabilities. About 30 percent of families have an immediate family member with a disability. Most people who are blessed to live into their senior years develop one or more disabilities.
God understands the frustrations that come with limitations, even severe limitations. Everyone lives with a variety of limitations. Using this understanding of disability, we see that the second person of the Trinity took disability upon himself in three ways: in his incarnation (taking on human form), in his taking on the sin of believers, and in his crucifixion.
Read the rest of the article on The Banner website.