Matthew 22:39 (NIV)
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
Abbé Adolphe-Julien Fouré's vision was to become a priest and to serve the people of his beloved Brittany. He did this with passion until he had a stroke at the age of 55, which left him completely deaf as well as mute. He had no choice but to retire from his clerical duties.
In his shoes, I would have felt quite depressed, useless, like I was a burden to society. It's quite easy in such times to start hating ourselves!
He was determined, however, to not become discouraged. He decided to move to the village of Rothéneuf, near Saint-Malo in France. Although he could now neither hear nor speak, he was inspired to begin carving sculptures, some of wood, and others from the living rock. He was so determined that even today more than 120 years after he had dedicated himself to this task, more than 300 of his rock sculptures can still be seen.
He became an inspiration to his entire region. If a deaf/mute could make such an impact to society, every one of us, whether handicapped or not, could have a similar impact on the world! The problem is that we tend to relish being swallowed up by self-pity. After all, when we find ourselves rejected and abandoned by our loved ones, we tend to feel unlovable, and we easily conclude that we are worthless. It doesn't take long for us to begin to hate ourselves!
May we learn from Abbé Adolphe-Julien Fouré that the only thing that can stop us from being useful is our own attitude! Nothing can hinder us from loving others, as long as we refuse to submit to discouragement.
One of my favorite characters in the Bible is King David. He, too, had many opportunities to thoroughly hate himself and feel completely useless. Some of us can completely identify with David when he wrote:
"My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors and an object of dread to my closest friends- those who see me on the street flee from me. I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery." (Psalms 31:10-12, NIV2)
Do you feel at times like a broken plate? I haven't met anyone that hasn't felt this way at one time or another. We are human after all!
How would we have felt if we had been in David's shoes? Like a broken plate as well? How would we feel when the king that we serve and who is also our father-in-law, wants to completely destroy us and uses every means at his disposal to do so? But as if that isn't bad enough, his brothers also mocked him, and his own son, Absalom, usurped his throne, making him run for his life a second time.
Calamities were part of David's life, and he, too, could have ended up becoming completely discouraged. He didn't though. Instead he developed an intimate relationship with His Heavenly Father, who sustained Him during those desperate times. Because of this, David could boldly proclaim: "But I trust in you, LORD; I say, 'You are my God.'" (Psalms 31:14, NIV2) He became a pillar of faith, so much that God declared about him: "'I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart . . .'" (Acts 13:22b, NIV2)
Although David made many horrible mistakes, he never stopped trying to serve God with all of his heart. The many psalms he wrote are an indication of where his hope was anchored.
May we remember that self-pity will only lead to heartache, and eventually we may end up hating ourselves. Love cannot bloom in such circumstances, unless we let God fill us with His love.
You can make a difference in this world, no matter what your handicap might be.
Dear Lord, help us not get discouraged with our circumstances or our handicap. Help us to use what You have given to us. Thank You for using us if we are willing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.