Brothers sitting smiling by a lake
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. James 1:2-3

One thing God clearly says about disability is that it will be used for His glory (see John 9:1-3).

Life brings all sorts of challenges. And none of them is too complicated for God. No person is unreachable by God’s goodness. But that can take time for our fearful and frustrated minds to grasp.

Imagine life from the perspective of James, the brother of Jesus. His sibling did no wrong. His sibling got a whole lot of attention. His sibling inspired the masses. James might have compared himself to his brother or envied how some people listened to Jesus and respected him.

Actually, James and his siblings thought their brother Jesus was crazy. At least once, they tried to protect him by taking him away from a crowd (Mark 3:31-32). After all, he was claiming to be the Messiah. Was James embarrassed by Jesus, or did he think Jesus needed his protection?

We don’t entirely know what motivated the young James. But we do learn a lot from this brother who grew to love Jesus and be utterly shaped and changed by Him later in life. After the resurrected Jesus made a one-to-one appearance to James in 1 Corinthians 15:7, James became a passionate and devoted disciple.

Young children growing up in a home impacted by disability can wrestle to understand their own place and value in a complicated family system. Very often they need prayerful guidance as well as space to process their thoughts, feelings, perspectives. Parents aim to balance attentions as much as they can but might find their capacity or wisdom compromised, even to the point of inadvertently causing hurts. Love for our children doesn’t make us imperfect. Like them, we are learning as we go.

We have no indication that Mary and Joseph panicked when their children experienced conflict or lectured them about getting along. We do read scriptures that encourage a parental investment in a training process (Proverbs 22:6) and a warning not to exasperate our children (Ephesians 6:4).

We can trust God to be a complete and perfect Parent for each of us individually. Let’s ask God to help our families lean into Him together through every stage, season, and circumstance, as the power of the Holy Spirit grows us all up and heals the hurts.

The entire book of James is written by Jesus’ brother James. That same young man who was a hesitant and frustrated brother became a leader in our faith. James grew up to say things like, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12) James also wrote, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27)

That same young man who was a hesitant and frustrated brother became a leader in our faith.

On this side of heaven, every of us remains a work-in-progress. Let us teach and encourage each other in being kind and respectful (Romans 2:4) while letting God do the work of authoring and perfecting someone’s faith in His way and time (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Almighty Creator, help me to see what a masterpiece you made when you created me, and the ones I love so much. Show me the truth of who we are, each of us uniquely. Help me to clearly see the gifts and strengths you have woven into every person in my family, myself included. Make me a praying and compassionate sibling/parent/son/daughter/spouse who trusts the faith you are growing in each one of us. Conform my heart to You and your ways, oh Lord, that I don’t panic or pressure anyone about their faith in You. Let none of us be tossed by waves of fear, doubt, envy, bitterness, or pride. Teach us to share a winsome testimony with enthusiasm and confidence, but by the power of the Holy Spirit and ultimate faith in You to bring Your work to completion. AMEN

RELATED: Listen to the song Weathered by Dante Bowe and Hannah McClure.

Lisa Jamieson smiling

Lisa Jamieson is an author, speaker, special needs family advocate, and ordained pastoral counselor. She is co-founder of Walk Right In Ministries where she trains and counsels family caregivers to walk abundantly in life, faith, and relationships. Lisa and her husband, Larry, live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome.

NOTE: I am thankful to Francine Rivers’ book The Family of Jesus for inspiring this Christmas series. Check it out if you want to dig deeper into history-changing people in Jesus’ family.


  1. Pam Hanson

    Read this early this morning so thank you for thoughtful words to encourage and give understanding to our families!

    • Lisa Jamieson

      Thank you, Pam!

  2. Lanae

    Thank you for this timely piece. I am a mom to a special needs child, but I also have two siblings with special needs. As of late, there is a root of bitterness that God has revealed in me that needs healing. This perspective on James speaks the truth to me that if Jesus can change the heart of His brother, He will fix my heart too. So thankful. And a word for parents, God is the One who brings healing to the heart of a hurting sibling. Not us.

    • Lisa Jamieson

      Oh, dear Lanae. We are praying for you! Thank you for sharing vulnerably so that others can understand the truth and perspectives you shared. The promise of Ezekiel 36:26 reveals God’s heart and promise, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and you a heart of flesh.” We stand with you trusting that God purifies and renews all of us, all the time.


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