Sanctity of life Sunday is a special day to me for so many reasons. I am pro-life. I am pro-life for the unborn, born, elderly, immigrants, people of all religions and races and individuals with special needs. Many say that they are pro-life, but typically only think of pro-life in terms of abortion. For so long the lives of individuals with special needs have been undervalued, unappreciated, deemed worthless in some countries and areas and un-discipled. Today, on sanctity of life Sunday, I wanted to provide some tangible ways to support the pro-life movement and to show respect and dignity for the lives of individuals with special needs.
1. Have you spoken with your children about how they treat individuals with special needs? If you haven’t, please consider speaking to them. Naturally, children are curious and scared of what they don’t know. Often when they are scared, they lash out. What a gift to teach your kids compassion and empathy. Their kindness may be the only time that person is treated with dignity or feels a sense of friendship. Teach them to show the love of Christ to all. ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40
2. When you are out and you see a special needs family, give them a warm smile. You’d never imagine how far simple kindness can go. Show them and especially their children with special needs respect and understanding even in those awkward situations that are loud or disturbing. ‘Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.’ 1 Peter 3:8
3. If you know a special needs family, encourage them or offer help. It’s not always easy living in a different world. As a special needs parent, my eyes have been opened to a whole different world. A world where my child cannot use most public restrooms, a world where we must ensure that we have the very best headphones when we go out or my son cannot function, a world where he gets awful stares by people wondering why he is kicking me or throwing my purse on the ground in a fit because he cannot speak to tell me what’s wrong. I live in a world where we have to deadbolt ourselves in our house so my son won’t get out and run into traffic or a pool or simply just away from safety. That world often makes you feel isolated. I am fortunate to have a family that supports and loves on us, but many are not. We need to support these families and encourage them. Could you possibly offer to babysit? Could you offer a kind word of encouragement to a sibling that maybe feels left out? Could you offer a meal or simply a time to come and allow that person rest? ‘Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.’ Hebrews 13:1-2
4. Most importantly, those in the church, please do not forget to pray for and disciple these individuals with special needs. It has been proven time and time again that even children that cannot speak and seem to have a low IQ, can understand what you say. Let your words be kind, but more so share the Gospel with them! We cannot assume that a child or adult of any age or disability cannot accept Christ. Doing that is doing them a great and dangerous disservice. Share the Gospel as many times as you can with individuals with special needs. Hope in Jesus and salvation is that person’s greatest need. I love reading about when Jesus forgave the paralyzed man in Mark. Though he was paralyzed Jesus knew that his ailment was a temporary hardship, but his forgiveness was his need for eternity. It reminds me that when I pray for Jacob his salvation should be at the forefront always, not his safety, not his healing. That is his eternal need.
Mark 2:1-12English Standard Version (ESV)
Jesus Heals a Paralytic
2 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”