Since my wife Ann has been back at church these past few months I have noticed a trend that this cartoon seems to capture so well. People feel an overwhelming need to pray for someone in a wheelchair.. sometimes it can be a bit annoying.. and a bit condescending.

Unlike the cartoon, however, I don't think that people have this reaction because they are looking down at my wife.. I just think that they are uncomfortable and don't know what else to do at times.. they are well meaning (I really mean that!) but would do better to engage Ann in conversation rather than pray for her.

I also think that, in general, people are very outwardly focused in nature. This is one of the reasons that health and wealth preachers are so very successful.. they make the gospel all about externals.. they train people to look healthy on the outside even though they are inwardly sick.

Wholeness is all about being well on the inside even though our flesh is broken.. and we all have broken flesh. Wholeness is best reflected in the passage from 2Corinthians 4:
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. (7-10)

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. (16)
Sometimes it takes external pain, disability and brokeness to bring us to a place of wholeness. I know that physical and emotional pain have led me in paths where I have been confronted with Proverbs 3:5-6.. confronted with the idea that trust is all about inner wholeness.. and leaning on my own understanding has been an obstacle in that path of wholeness.


  1. I work as a nurse and I can't tell you the number of times my patients have ministered to me. Some are spinal cord injured or CVA and will never get out of a wheelchair.

    Our God is awesome and I am always convicted with who he uses to touch me especially when I have few health problems. God Bless ANY christian who finds themselves in a heathcare setting as a patient. The majority of the staff are unbelievers.

  2. I'm sure it's frustrating for your wife to be condescended to, or at least feel that way. In some ways, it's physically natural, when everybody is looking down at you physically, to feel like they're looking "down" at you, with pity. Because some are. And some, like you said, don't know what else to do or say.

    There's a gift of humility in allowing others to do for you, to pray for you, to help you when you'd like to take care of yourself, thankyouverymuch. Not much consolation, probably, but a great growth of soul in the long run.

    The cartoon is a good discussion-starter.

  3. Thanks TZ. I have often said that the humbling process is not neat and tidy.. it is messy and often looks more like humiliation. Just consider Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 4:28-33) :(

  4. Do you know the prayer, The Litany of Humility? You can google it, but it has lines in it like this:

    From the desire of being praised, deliver me, Jesus


    From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus
    From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, Jesus


    That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

    Praying for the grace to be humbled/humiliated is the only way along that particularly awful path. Nobody should ever say that it's an easy walk, trusting in the Lord. It's hard, painful, embarassing, lonely, but then so was the Way of the Cross.

  5. Much food for thought here, in both your original post, Bob, and all the responses.

    I will say that the time I spent spent in a hospital ward in the late 60s helped shape the person I am today. I was 12 years old at the time and being in a mix of children suffering from everything from brittle diabetes to leukemia to spinal cord injuries was an eye opening experience. There was even one little 5 year old boy named David who apparently had nothing wrong with him, but had been abandoned at the hospital by his mother/parents. We were a diverse bunch of races, sizes and shapes, disorders, and faiths, but we were/became a functioning "community". In spite of our differences, we all had a common experience, that of intense pain and long dark nights.....and the need to be with others who could help us get through it. Trust me, when you're bed bound in a body cast and need a bedpan desperately, you don't say "no" when the nurses are too busy and the 5 year old is the only one who can get it for you in time.

    Hugs to you and your wife, Bob.

  6. I hate to laugh after crownring's wonderful post, but The Curt Jester can be quite the scream. Good Google!

  7. Unless someone has walked in your shoes with someone in a wheelchair, it's hard to understand, KB.
    My brother and stepmom both spend a great deal of time in them.
    Frankly, the stupidity of people and how they treat disabled people is a shame. Sorry to be so blunt, but it's not just about sitting there and accepting people praying over you. It's about us praying for those who are on the journey of understanding that disabled people are just as able as walking and upright folk...and many times much more.
    I pray for the "able" folks journey.

  8. I know how your wife has felt. I have been in a wheel chair myself recently over the last year and half because of GBS. I have felt like this cartoon. I have felt like people felt pitty on me because of my disablity. Over this past year I have felt frustration, anger, fear, extreme pain, comfort, compassion, encouragement, strength, healing. I have felt the presence of God in my life through this difficulty. I want to encourage your wife that it is okay to feel.
    I am still struggling with the fact of what my wholeness is going to be.
    Thank you for this post.
    It has helped me and lifted my spirit.
    God bless you brother.

  9. How true.

    I have a good friend who is wheelchair bound. She is one of the most "whole" people I know - selfless, positive, encouraging.

  10. What an excellent post. If only we could "get" that God's will for us isn't health and happiness, rather it is holiness.

  11. Thank you for a great read. This is my first visit to your blog. God Bless you and your family!

  12. This might be the most awesome thing I've ever seen. Thanks!

  13. Wise words. Good to find your blog...a lot to browse through here :)


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