Monday, January 21, 2013

Our Contender

I will contend with those who contend with you,
    and your children I will save.
~ Isaiah 49:25b, NIV ~

One of the more heartbreaking and isolating parts of living with a child who has special needs can come when they are ostracized simply for who they are.  Over the weekend, a story broke of a waiter in Houston who refused to serve a family because the father was verbally maligning another family at the restaurant whose son had Downs Syndrome.  Unhappy about being seated near this special family, the irritable father relocated his family to a different table farther away from the child with Downs, but still within the waiter's same section.  To his great credit, and now recognition, the waiter had a very visceral-but-polite response to the man's behavior, "I'm sorry, sir, but I cannot serve you."  The man and his family then left the restaurant without incident.  Wanting to spare the special needs family any pain, the waiter kept the story to himself.  But another ambassador of good will informed the family how the waiter had stood up for them.  Needless to say, it meant a tremendous amount to these parents to have a stranger stand up for them in such a profound way.

Like any other decent news consumer, I couldn't help but have my heart warmed by this anecdote.  Yet, my interest obviously ran far deeper than the average person.  My heart quickened, perhaps an extra few beats, because the story made me believe that perhaps we are actually making headway in building acceptance of people with unique abilities.  

You see, we have been trying to transform the world's view of our loved ones with a diagnosis in various ways for decades.  There has been the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that allows citizens equal access under the law.  Equally essential has been the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  There has even been the campaign to stop using the "R" word.  Whole groups dedicate their mission to building awareness and acceptance.  While each of us parents are advocating for our children to the wider culture every day.

Still, I have long made the case that none of these things will make a difference until we change people's hearts.  Why do I feel so strongly about this?  Because I truly believe what God tells us in Matthew 15:19, "For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander." (NIV)  The toxicity we spill out onto others comes straight from the condition of our own core being.  If we are stuck in that dark place, no law or feel-good campaign will move us out of it.

Yet, the Lord assures us that He will contend with those who contend with us.  Isn't it a relief to know that?  And His contention can come in dealing with that sin condition of human hearts.  He gets straight to the focal point of the matter, using whoever He finds with a willing spirit to rise to our defense.  One at a time He transforms, building love and acceptance in each human heart.

Yes, the above news story is heartening from its human interest perspective.  It is even encouraging from a disability community perspective.  But perhaps it is most promising because in a dark and sinful world, we can be assured that the omnipotent, Sovereign Lord is faithfully shining His light to drive back evil.  That should be a comfort and encouragement for any family that struggles.

PRAY:  So many days I feel like I am swimming upstream, fighting against a cold world. Thank You, Lord, for assuring me that You are with me in the battle.  I praise You that You give us hope even when it feels like the whole world is against us. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh Amen and Amen! Thank you for the encouragement today. Fantastic post! Fantastic!