Popular opinion holds that a disabling life event is likely to destroy a person's faith. If you are suffering from a disability or handicap or serious illness, you may feel that your faith is certainly being threatened.
If you are close to someone who is having to face the fact that they are not as whole as they once were, you may see that they are struggling with their faith and their trust in God.
However, a research project studying 26 men and women who had acquired permanent disabilities relegating them to wheelchair-living revealed the opposite: 53% found their faith was increased by their disability. 31% "kept their faith" despite the challenges of disability. 8% found faith through their disability. 8% described their faith as "uncertain". 0% lost their faith.
Here are some of the reactions of those individuals:
1. God-believers experienced God as a "presence" - someone to talk to, to question, someone who listens.
2. God's help was described as providing, protecting, giving strength, endurance and patience, and understanding their struggles and caring about them.
3. Several believed that God somehow gave them their disability, but they did not feel bitter or betrayed.
4. All indicated that "talking to people gives meaning to their lives." They agreed that feeling lonely and different is common.
The Wheelchair: 46% (12) hate the wheelchair and want to get out of it. 31% (8) said they accepted wheelchair-living. 23% (6) were ambivalent. They said they both hate it and accept it. 100% agreed that "to walk again" is a dream that never leaves. 69% (18) expressed a hopeful attitude. 8% held hopeless feelings 23% were mixed with both hopeful and helpless feelings
"Hope" means not giving up. Hope is fueled by a faith in God. Hope blossoms when friends and family are close, supportive and encouraging. I suppose that the take-away that I want to impart to those of you who are not on the disabled list is that you can be a blessing to those who are by 'showing up' for them. Being there. Being supportive. Encouraging them.