Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Divine Call of Dignity

Photo Courtesy of grandfailure/

When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”

They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.
~ Luke 8:51-56, NIV ~

There is so much to the two stories captured in Luke 8: 40-56.  (I just listened to a sermon on this passage at church this past week, and was completely absorbed in the message.)  We learn about a woman being healed, and a girl being raised from the dead in this very short, concise part of scripture.  

But, these stories didn't speak to me because of the healing or the resurrection...they spoke to me because of what they reveal about the nature of God; that He places a priority on the DIGNITY of each individual, and that He takes into consideration the PLACE that people hold in society.


In the first story, we see a woman healed from her 12 year "bleeding" disease...a disease which would have made her unclean in her society.  All she did was reach out and TOUCH Jesus's robe, but because she believed she would be healed through that act, she was.  Jesus, knowing that he had been touched, and knowing what had happened could have just carried on through the crowds on his way to Jairus's house to see his dying daughter.  But, Jesus stopped...and drew attention to this particular healing.  Why?  

So he could give her back her dignity in front of her peers...

When she was sick, similar to a leper, she would have been considered an outcast; untouchable.  But Jesus made a point to pronounce her HEALED in front of the crowd that surrounded them.  He decidedly stopped and asked what she had done, and then declared that her faith had made her well once she had proclaimed her healing in front of EVERYONE...he wanted her to TELL EVERYONE.
But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” Luke 8: 46-48 NKJV
He gave her back her dignity in front of her entire community...

We quickly move on to Jairus's dying daughter.  Only, the terrible news arrives that she has already died.  But Jesus carries on; why?  Is it so he can perform a resurrection and tell everyone about it? After all, he had just made sure the woman he healed PROCLAIMED IT IN FRONT OF EVERYONE.  Surely this is his chance to continue performing miracles and establishing himself as the Son of God!

But what actually happens here?  Jesus says the girl IS ONLY, he THEN limits the number of people he allows to witness this miracle.  Why does he do this?  The reason is something I'd never considered until Pastor Josh's message on Sunday...


Really...think about it!  What LIFE could this girl go on to live if she is always known as the "dead girl?"

So, instead of bringing in a large audience and saying, "Look at what I can do?  I can raise her from the dead!"  He takes only those who are necessary into her room (v. 51), while telling everyone else that she's just asleep (v. 52, 53):

 Nothing to see here folks, move along, move along...
And he raises her from the dead, behind closed doors, and instructs EVERYONE to TELL NO ONE what really happened.

He gave her back her dignity so she could go on to live a normal life.


It tells me that as parents of children with special needs we are called to give DIGNITY to the special needs community.  (Indeed, give dignity back to ALL of society...but, you see where I'm going here.)

The tasks of running to doctor appointments, IEPs, therapies, support groups...the tasks of appealing when insurance denies it, paying the bill that comes in the mail, and helping fundraise for a variety of special needs non-profits...
...These may feel like mundane tasks, and may often feel overwhelming...but WE ARE CARRYING OUT THE WILL OF GOD.
THIS is why I believe we should END THE R-WORD.  Because we need to end the language which has marginalized a group of people and continues to perpetuate the archaic believe that intellectual disabilities make someone wrong, less, or backwards.   

Just this past week, the day after I completed my first draft of this post, my world was shattered when I heard of the brutal slayings in Japan which left nearly 20 people with disabilities dead and 25 others injured...the 26 year old murderer actually asked the Japanese government for MONEY in return for these slayings saying that he was doing the world a favor.  
Oh my goodness...there are still people in this world who believe the world would be better off without our children who have disabilities?  Lord, have mercy...for we are all made in your image, and we are each a masterpiece.
THIS is why I believe in the DIGNITY REVOLUTION.  Because we are all seeking to belong in our community, and we ALL want to feel accepted and loved for who we are in our core.  We need to get into our schools and tell those who are crying out for love and affection that they ARE loved and they ARE cherished in the eyes of their Creator.

If JESUS made the conscious decision to proclaim one woman healed in front of everyone and ensure she told everyone around her, but then raises a girl from the dead in front of only the girl's parents and a few disciples and instructs them to tell no one... 

...then the CHARACTER of GOD includes the desire to restore dignity to individuals and to help them be VALUED in their community.  

Pray:  Heavenly Father, Giver of Life, thank you for giving us your WORD so we may continue to learn more about YOU and about your WILL.  Help me to be better at restoring others and helping to give them dignity, love and respect.  Help me to encourage others to do the same.  As a parent of a child with special needs, I know you have called me to the task of helping to give dignity to my child in a society that will often deny the value of her.  Father God, forgive them, for they know not what they do, and help me to forgive them too.  God, protect us, and protect our vulnerable loved ones.  Help us to speak your Truth in this world even when we may feel our lives or our reputations are threatened by doing so.  Amen.

~Tammie Hefty 


  1. Thank you. This resonates with me on so many levels. God bless you.