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Hopeful vs Hopeless

Are you, like most people, unsure how to relate to a person in a wheelchair? I've been there! Like, do I acknowledge that they are handicapped? Or do I ignore the fact that they are sitting in a wheelchair? But then, how can I ignore it? What should I say? What must I be careful NOT to say?

It's hard.

We sympathize with, and feel sorry for, people we see who are dealing with a disability of some sort. This is a natural first reaction. But we should not let those thoughts create a barrier for communication and relationship between us. That would be the sad part. Too often, we feel awkward, and we feel sorry for the person and leave it at that.

We don't pursue a connection with them.

I have found some information that I find very interesting on the subject of wheelchairs. Popular opinion holds that a disabling life event is likely to destroy a person's faith.

And yet, a research project, studying 26 men and women who had acquired permanent disabilities relegating them to wheelchair living, revealed that the opposite was true:

Of these men and women that were surveyed, 53% found their faith was increased by their disability. 31% "kept their faith" despite the challenges of disability; 8% found faith through their disability; and 8% described their faith as "uncertain".

Amazingly, none of them said that they had lost their faith.

Their reactions were summarized into four thoughts:

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 gave meaning to their lives.' They agreed that feeling 'lonely' and 'different' is common.

My thoughts on all of this, as it relates to you, is for you to consider what you can do.

Note #4 above: they all felt that meaning was added to their lives by being able to talk to people.

Such a simple thing that you can do that means so much to them. You can talk to them! Listen to them . . . draw them out.

And always, keep in mind that most of these folks have a sense of hope (not hopelessness.) 'Hope' means not giving up. Hope is fueled by a faith in God. Hope blossoms when friends and family are close, supportive and encouraging.


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