Thankful from the Disability Trenches

Nobody is thankful for the disability trenches. No thank you for doing things way past the expected age range or getting hair pulled out during a meltdown. I don’t see the praises for IEPs that haven’t really changed in years because the level of learning is pretty much the same year after year. And no Hallelujah for when high school is finished for the virtually unemployable.

We only hear the thank you Jesus when there has been a cure. Praises on the church lists show up when situations such as my family’s have been narrowly avoided. Maybe you’ve heard it before: everyone is one Emergency Room visit from becoming our family. It’s a harsh reality. Harsh, but true.

But I’m going to buck the trend.

I’m thankful for disability.

I’m thankful for disability in the trenches. I’m thankful for those not so nice things that haven’t always been easy. I’m thankful for when I’ve had my hair pulled out to the point of tears. I’m thankful for this special needs life.

This life is not all ‘woe is me.’ Sure, we have hard days now and again. This life is not everything I had hoped it would be.

This life is better.

Disability in the trenches is better than a life focused only on me. Which is where I would be without it. I have a hard enough time fighting the ‘all about me’ wants with disability in my life. Disability in the trenches keeps my eyes on someone else … and my behind off the couch.

I think it’s high time I start thanking God for the tough stuff along with the saving graces. I often wonder just what he saved me from by giving me this different way of life. Because of our needs I have a close-knit family, a husband who relies on Christ and whom I rely on everyday, and a family that knows the power of Christ. I think that right there is enough to keep me thankful for every one of the trenches disability has brought us. What have you found that you can be thankful for in the trenches?

There is joy from the smallest of things that I did not think to look for before disability. We have become thankful for the simple things in life. The gift of others coming in time of need, the joy of family togetherness, the gift of time with each other no matter how hard or how short; these are all blessings we have taken for granted until disability came close.

Job reminds me often to be thankful in the trenches. I have nowhere near figured out thankfulness like he did. I am constantly sinning and blaming someone in this life. But I am still thankful for the example God has given me in his Word to at least try to live by. Here is what Job said after his children were killed by a tornado:

“Job got to his feet, ripped his robe, shaved his head, then fell to the ground and worshipped: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, Naked I will return to the womb of the earth. God gives. God takes. God’s name be ever blessed.’ Not once through all of this did Job sin; not once did he blame God.” ~ Job 1:20-22 Msg

I’ve got some work to do on my thankfulness, for sure. And so did Job. Later in the Chapter he says this … (I love it.):

“I’m speechless, in awe – words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth! I’ve talked too much. Way too much. I’m ready to shut up and listen.” ~Job 40:3-5 Msg

I don’t know why some are healed, some get more and more sick, some find paths of understanding when the same paths don’t work for others. I don’t know. But I am learning to be thankful for this life that I’ve been given. I am learning from Job that God knows so much more than I ever will comprehend. There are things that I may never understand in this life. But I trust the One who “created the Earth … decided on its size … while the morning stars sang in chorus and the angels shouted praise.” (Job 38:2-11 Msg) He is the same One holding me. This is what keeps me thankful for disability in the trenches.

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