Temple Grandin and God’s view of disabilities


Sarah and I watched Temple Grandin. I would highly recommend you seeing it too. The movie is based on the life of Temple Grandin a child born in an era when people with mental or physical disabilities were institutionalized. The story traces the hard work of raising Temple to use her “different, but not lesser” brain that sees in pictures for extraordinary things. Her autism did not stop her from learning, overcoming challenges, and excelling in education. She has become an innovator in the farming industry and a spokeswoman from autism.

It is amazing how God hardwired our brains and bodies! However, this begs a good question: Is God in control of mental and physical disabilities? In short, yes He is. He tells us: “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” [Exodus 4:11] In Jesus’ ministry to a blind man He says to His followers, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” [John 9:1-3] God intends our disabilities both for His glory and for our good.

My sister Samm was born with Spina-Bifida. I remember as a young teen visiting the Children’s Hospital of Milwaukee and spending long weekends at the Ronald MacDonald House wondering what the fate of my little sister would be. I am certainly glad that my mom and step-dad said “no” to the recommendation of abortion. Instead they sacrificed much to raise a wonderful and beautiful woman who has championed through her disability. If you would talk to my sister, you would not hear one who is weakened because she is in wheels, but one who strengthens all around her through her determination to use her disability as a platform for good. We are incredibly proud of the woman she is becoming.

I came across this rendering of Psalm 139:13-16 that adds description of what it really means to believe that God is sovereign over disability:

For you formed my inward parts with Down syndrome;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb without eyes.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made with cognitive challenges.
Wonderful are your works in creating me without limbs;
my soul knows it very well though my ears will never hear a sound.
My frame was not hidden from you as you made me with Apert syndrome,
when I was being made in secret with autism,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth without Hexosaminidase A.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance with spina bifida;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me with cerebral palsy,
when as yet there was none of them.

If you would like to learn more biblical and visual truth about God’s sovereignty and good in disability, check out Krista Horning’s new book Just the Way I Am, and watch this inspirational message by Joni Erickson Tada:

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