Supporting churches to include people with Autism and Learning Disabilties

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Life’s not fair…

How many times a day do you think that? How many days in your life have you thought it?

Children say it a lot. Don’t we say to them, “Well life isn’t fair,” while still secretly joining with them in the complaint? Don’t we look at everything that is going on in our own lives, the lives other others around us and all that is on the news and just want to complain loudly to God…

“It isn’t FAIR!”

Well, thank you for agreeing with me – glad it’s not only me.

I’ve been to a http://www.womeninministry.co.uk   conference today. The talks were about engaging with the Old Testament, ourselves and as we teach others from the Bible. The first talk from Daf Merion-Jones (All Saints, Preston) was about the wisdom literature of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job and Song of Songs.

There are a few of facts you need to acknowledge about these books straight away..

  1. They have long passages of doom, gloom and miserableness in them.
  2. They agree that life is unfair, pretty awful for long periods of time and we are not in control of any of it.
  3. Too often the wicked get what the ‘good’ deserve, and the ‘good’ get what the wicked deserve.
  4. We are all heading to the same conclusion…death.
  5. And they are some of my favourite books of the Bible…

whoops taken on another challenge!

Huh????

Daf was telling us is that these books are about the reality of living in a broken and fallen world. We see God has intervened in history from creating the world, to the Exodus, Exile, birth of Jesus, Jesus’ death and resurrection, the growth of the church and we look forward to Jesus coming again and the new heaven and the new earth when everything will be put right…and then there’s all this mundane, hard and everyday bits in between…the bits that are our own lives, somehow weaving into the bigger picture but often incomprehensible to us.

I was thinking about disability a lot through this session. In Jesus’ time and for so many people still, disability was seen as a punishment for parents’ or personal sin.  Jesus dispelled that myth, but it perpetuated for a long, long time…and still does, even in some parts of his church.

Having a disability can be very difficult; the pain and suffering of bodies that don’t work as they should; the confusion of sensory overload and challenges of understanding a confusing world; having to rely on others; the mistreatment suffered from comments, exploitation, physical and sexual abuse;  people with disabilities being locked up, wrongly accused, kept in slavery, or killed.

In our group right now we have people with learning disabilities who are grieving.  Some are fighting the injustice of loss of benefits. Some are missing trusted staff who have been moved suddenly. Some are suffering with pain and medical conditions for which they take a lot of medication. One is having chemotherapy for breast cancer. One is losing his sight.

I know children who have been bullied, sexually abused, taken advantage of by their peers and trusted adults. Their disabilities making them ‘easy targets’.

THIS IS LIFE….BROKEN LIFE…

So why are Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job and Song of Songs some of my favourite books of the Bible?

Because they are real.  They don’t hide the facts that life is unfair and terrible at times. Ecclesiastes has a few great pearls of wisdom.

  1. If you don’t know God, (or choose not to acknowledge him) then all you can do is live life for all you can get out of it.
  2. If you do acknowledge God then there is HOPE. God is working all things together for the good of those who love him. He has promise to carry us through the roughness of life. Most of all he has promised JUSTICE.

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We all want to see JUSTICE done. We want people with disabilities to be treated fairly, to be valued and to be included. To be given every change to make something of their lives and not to suffer. We want that for ourselves too, if we are really honest.

We can and should keep fighting to make this world a better place, we should be exploring better medical treatments to alleviate suffering, we should be fighting for inclusive churches and education, we should be supporting disabled children and their families and giving adults with disabilities the same chances that we all want for relationships, life and work..

… but it is NEVER going to be right, or perfect or fixed. We cannot fix the world, we cannot make it work the way it should.

Only God can do that. If we ignore him we are left with just our best efforts – and then we die, and then we are forgotten.  Sorry.

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But if we turn to God and acknowledge him – we have a hope that brings life, peace, even JOY.

We CAN endure this life, even rejoice in it because we know the one who has promised us eternal justice for all wickedness, including our own. And if we trust in the saving work of Jesus, who took God’s punishment for our sin (of ignoring God) and told us “That WHOEVER believes in him will have eternal life.” A life of joy, peace and complete fairness, a life of hope and freedom from all the crap* in this life.

We treat our adults with disabilities as adults, not children. So when they suffer, and life is unfair we have to have the right answer – not something glib – because that isn’t true.  We must do it with care and sensitivity and make sure that they know the hope we have in Jesus – because that is the grace that saves us.

The God I follow hates the injustice in this world that his created people have caused through their selfishness and because they ignore their creator.  But if you turn to him and say sorry for ignoring him, he promises to forgive you and set you on a new path – his WAY. Make that decision today, before it is too late, then go and tell others about his great saving grace too!

(*sorry if you offended but I feel it is an accurate word in this context)

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Comments on: "Life’s not fair; Ecclesiastes and wisdom…" (2)

  1. It is encouraging to read someone who appreciates the book of Ecclesiastes. It seems that organized religion is always trying to ignore the fact that it was God who said “Cursed is the ground because of you. Thorns and thistles is will grow for you. By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread until you return to the dust for dust you are and to dust you shall return.” This is as much a promise of God as is Jesus words that “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Overcome does not mean the thorns and thistles are gone. We have to wait for a new heaven and earth to get back to the thornless garden.

    This is why Kohelet (author of Ecclesiastes) can say, “Consider what God has done, no one can straighten what he has twisted (the sowing of thorns) so when God times come (original creation) be happy and when bad times arrive (thorns) remember that God has created both to ensure that a person will never know what their future holds.”

    Like you, Kohelet understands that justice will always be twisted in a human world. He says “Do not be surprised if you see the poor oppressed and justice and rights denied.” But he acknowledges that “God will one day judge both the righteous and the wicked for there also will be a time to evaluate every activity, a time to judge every deed.”

    I have been traveling and performing Ecclesiastes as a one person show and I have met many people like yourself. People who understand how life under the sun really works and what God is doing in our world. These people are few and far between for the religious people shout them down and try to create a “weedless” theology, a faith they think will appeal to people better that the reality around us.

    Thanks for the post.

    Vance – http://www.artofwork.ca

    Like

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