Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Disabilities and Abortion

A friend sent me a link this morning to an article entitled, The Abortion Debate No One Wants to Have. The writer of the article has a grown daughter with Down's Syndrome and is tackling the tough issue of prenatal testing used to weed out children with Disabilities from the general populous.

I could say a hundred different things right now. There are so many downsides to a world without disabled children! Even now, with all of its flaws, America has a lot of facades -- even our freeways and trash dumpsters have to be situated in the midst of planted flower beds. In a world of poverty and suffering and war and terror, America is the Disneyland of the planet. We look around at the pretty flower boxes and children laughing and perfectly manicured lawns and smiling caricatures and sno cone machines and think, "This is reality."

But it is not reality. Disabilities are, among many other things, mercy to a dying world. When we look at quarter of a million dollar houses and bright red Corvettes, we think, "What a wonderful world!" When we see children with disabilities, we are reminded, if even for a moment, that life doesn't always run according to our plans. For a brief moment, our false sense of reality is shaken - we are forced to realize we live in a fallen world where people get sick, people suffer, and where all of us will eventually die.

In America, those thought are all buried beneath layer upon layer of funny T.V. shows, restaurants, Krispy Kreme donuts, new cars, vacations, paychecks, and shoe shopping. Name your distraction - we all have a million of them.

It is not wise, nor healthy, nor beneficial to go through life never realizing that we are sailing on a sinking ship. Reality is a good thing to taste now and then. Never thinking about death or growing old will only make those inevitable fates all the harder to deal with when they happen to you, and they both will.

I believe that God has a thousand good purposes behind Disabilities. The one I am highlighting here is only one of them. But let me tell you, from a personal standpoint -- anytime I think life is designed around my having fun or being comfortable - or that God is designed around making me happy -- all I have to do is look in a mirror and see a face full of scars to be reminded that life is much deeper and more difficult than the American media would have me believe.

Interacting with children and families with Disabilities is difficult. By that, I mean, that it takes more thought and care to meet their needs. It can be intimidating. There is always risk of offense or saying something foolish or something wrong. There is the temptation to rudely stare or ask probing questions that are too personal. And there is the gut-wrenching empathy that we must wrestle with for days after the encounter as we wonder why some people are called to suffer so much in this world.

But these are all good things, despite being difficult or uncomfortable. Learning how to deal with people compassionately, learning how to judge a person on the inside rather that the outside, learning how to weep with those who weep -- these are all good, character-building, Christ-like attributes, and Disabilities is one place in the world where we can find a place to nurture those characteristics and behaviors.

Scripture says that God chooses the weak and despised things of the world to shame the wise. We would do best to follow God's lead. And by His grace, we will learn to value the things that He values.

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