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

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