Summary: God in His sovereignty uses accidents and handicaps to change lives for good, but it does not mean that He wills everything, for then He would be the author of evil.
Joni Eareckson Tada is one of the most famous handicapped persons
in the Christian world. She tells of a girl she knows named Betty who cannot
speak, cannot walk, and cannot feed or dress herself. She has no control over
her bowels or bladder, and needs constant care. She often wakes in the night
with screams for help. At first you might jump to the conclusion that this is
another hell on earth story. But in fact, nobody even feels bad for Betty, and
the reason is that she is an 8 month old baby. This is Joni's clever way of
getting us to realize that at one point we were all severely mentally and
physically handicapped. We have all been so handicapped that we would
die in a short time without loving care. Every mother and father are in the
business of helping the handicapped, for all normal babies are just as
handicapped as those who are not normal. Everyone of us is alive today
because of the helpers of the handicapped.
We do grow out of many of our early handicaps and become somewhat
independent, but we are never totally free of handicaps. Most people cannot
do all that they dream and wish they could. There are so many limitations of
time, talent, and treasure. Mrs. Sarah Ophelia Calley Connors set out to be
actress on Broadway. It did not work out and she had to choose second best.
She became a comedian whom we all know as Minnie Pearl. She had this
philosophy about it: "Success is not always getting what you originally
thought you wanted. To me, successful people are the ones who leveled with
themselves. They were able to realize that in a lot of cases, second best is
every bit as good as first choice. We must realize that many times our plan is
not God's plan."
One of the most famous handicapped people in Minnesota history
illustrates this. Michael J. Dowling was 14 years old when he sat on a soap
box in the back of a wagon with two men up front. They left Canby,
Minnesota and were out on the prairie when a blizzard stuck. The wagon hit
plowed ground and he was jolted off the back. He yelled at the top of his
voice, but the men did not hear him. He tried to follow the wagon, but the
snow soon obliterated the tracks. He stumbled blindly and finally found a
straw pile, and he dug his way in. He survived until the morning, and then
found his way to a farm house where the doctor was called. He had to have
both his legs amputated 6 inches below the knees. His left arm was taken off
below the elbow, and all his fingers and part of his thumb on the right hand.
You would think that meaningful life would be over for this poor young
victim of a tragic accident, but not so. He got artificial limbs, went to
Carlton College, became a teacher, then became a principal, and then a
banker, then a newspaper man, and finally a politician. He was once
mentioned as a candidate for governor of Minnesota. He was sent as a
member of a Commission to the Philippines where he had to help get the
attention of the Sultan to impress him with the importance of education. The
Sultan was bored by the Americans and had a hard time staying awake until
Michael took off his left leg and threw it on the floor. Then he removed both
feet and tossed them down before the astonished ruler. He was captivated
and gave full attention to what they had to say.
Dowling turned his handicap into an asset, and he proved that second
best can be ever bit as good, if not better, than first choice. The
handicapped are often just like everyone else. They just need help to figure
out how to use their handicap in an effective way. Our text is a whole
chapter about a handicapped son of Jonathan. It was bad enough that he
was lame, but to add to his burden he had one of the most unpronounceable
names in the Bible. Don't look for it in your little book of 300 names for your
new baby because the name Mephibosheth just never caught on, and never
became popular, even though it is a biblical name.
The handicapped compel the mind to ask why? Why should anyone have
to be deprived of the mental or physical abilities that are considered normal
for the human race? In the case of Mephibosheth the Bible tells us clearly.
He was handicapped by an accident. We read of it in II Sam. 4:4. When he
was 5 years old the news came that his father and his grandfather, who was