8 Truths About Disability & Relationships

The Bible provides many anchoring truths to guide us and spur us on in life. Caregiving families see those truths tested with extraordinary perspective. We also get to see — up close — how a foundation in certain truths stirs our compassion for each other, bolsters our sense of purpose in suffering, and reassures us that each person in our family is celebrated by God.

Each and every one of us is one hundred percent unique,
purposed for God’s kingdom,
and made for belonging.

Consider how our lives would be transformed if we really believed this one thing about ourselves and each other!

Let’s take a closer look at this foundational belief through the lens of eight truths about disability and relationships. By transforming the way we think, God’s truth has power to shape the way we live. By shaping the way we live, God’s equips us to cope with challenge or crisis. As we learn to cope — by the power of the Holy Spirit — we thrive in relationships with God and others.

God's good design is reflected in every person.

God’s good design is reflected in every person.

The fingerprints of God are on every person and circumstance. No matter how complex, senseless or hopeless a situation looks, every person has value and carries the image and power of Christ in them with the potential to contribute God-purposed things to this world.

Exodus 4:11
Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?

Psalm 139:13-15
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Suffering and weakness do not negate the value of life.

Suffering and weakness do not negate the value of life. 

Our culture hates inconvenience. Jesus welcomed interruptions and weaknesses as Divine opportunities. His value system is quite unlike the world’s. We worship knowledge and intelligence. God values wisdom over knowledge, and character over intelligence.

Our personal worth, our value to God, even the degree of our sin are not dependent on our abilities or anything we can earn. That means we are completely free of responsibility to earn God’s favor. All that God requires of us is faith. Even faith that is metaphorically as small as a mustard seed — one of the smallest seeds in the plant kingdom— is enough for Him.

Romans 3:23
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Ephesians 2:8-9
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

1 Corinthians 12:22
The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.

God is not limited by anything.

God is not limited by anything.

Issues that are so complicated for us are really very simple to God.

We scratch our heads (or pull our hair) over suffering that seems senseless. We wrestle with dilemmas about everything from medical ethics to school services to whether to accept governmental disability benefits. We train ourselves in different ways to pray for healing that might be more effective. We wait, often for a very long time, for answers to our questions and God’s response in areas where we are powerless.

In his book, Why the Church Needs Bioethics, John F. Kilner offers relatable encouragement, “Godly waiting reorients human beings from demanding that God perform, to prayerfully declaring that God’s character is holy, good, just, full of mercy, abounding in grace, and the source of all comfort. God’s gifts are good, both to desire and receive. The human heart tends to strive stubbornly for its wishes rather than rest in the contentment that flows from acknowledging God’s faithful blessings.”

Isaiah 45:7
I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.

Jeremiah 32:27
“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?

Disability frees a person to multiply grace.

Disability frees a person to multiply grace.

The culture values self, comfort, happiness, ease and an entitlement mentality. We feel no one deserves to suffer. Yet suffering positions us to give and receive unique and good gifts from our Heavenly Father and each other.

Disabilities help us appreciate different values like slowing down and unconditional love. The world teaches self-reliance. The Bible teaches God-reliance. There are times when the hardships of disability stretch us to trust God more. Over time, we become increasingly reassured of His faithfulness. We learn how freeing it is to surrender our weaknesses to the God of the universe!

Those who are most dependent are most freely used by God as a means for grace. My daughter with Angelman Syndrome is not limited by the need to work eight hours and tend to a home. She is entirely available to bring joy and love to others in a way that is profound and unique to her.  She teaches us humility in caregiving. She shows us how to persevere despite external obstacles and internal limitations — hers, and our own. She gives us a living picture of God’s unconditional love and challenges us to love one another well.

I must admit, my husband and I have often wished we could protect Carly’s siblings and others from the “burden” of her care. Yet we are reminded that the promise of God’s grace is just as much opportunity for them as it has been for us. 

James 1:2-4
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

God is first and foremost concerned with our hearts.

God is first and foremost concerned with our hearts.

Disability, suffering, and weakness remind us of the severity — and very broad reach — of the impact of Adam’s sin. We see in Mark 2:5 that God is generally more interested in changing people than changing their circumstances.

Mark 2:5
And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Our relationship to God and others is what matters most to Him. And God will use whatever method he needs to in order to accomplish that intimacy. This means that God’s response to our requests for healing, to our weaknesses and sin, and to all of our concerns in life, always begins and ends with how our circumstances work to shift our focus and affections toward Him and then others.

Jesus said the two greatest commandments were to love God and love each other. We were told to carry our crosses instead of seeking our own comfort or happiness. Suffering makes us long more for heaven and less for the world. It encourages a Kingdom perspective. Others will see that God Himself is our treasure.

God desires to restore us to right relationship with Him and others.

God desires to restore us to right relationship with Him and others.

God loves us even before we love Him. He created us and wants to be intimately near to us. Our lives will not be untroubled, but they will be deeply satisfying and life-giving when our choices, attitudes and beliefs drive us toward God rather than away from Him. Until we choose to receive the generous love Jesus offers, we will miss out on the richness of life and relationships.

In his book Disability and the Sovereign Goodness of God, John Piper offers this challenge: “The truth is that suffering can only have ultimate meaning in relation to God. Jesus says that the purpose of blindness is to put the work of God on display. This means that for our suffering to have ultimate meaning, God must be supremely valuable to us. More valuable than health and life. Many things in the Bible make no sense until God becomes your supreme value.”

Romans 8:26-28
We do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

1 John 4:19
We love each other because he loved us first.

If you are ready for a reset in your relationship with Jesus, watch here.

God transforms people and churches when we engage with each other through the adverse circumstances of our lives.

God transforms people and churches when we engage with each other through the adverse circumstances of our lives.

Christ-following families living with disability know the transforming power of doing life together in diverse community. Our own families are a picture of this on the smallest scale. Imagine what the family of God would look like if we learned to live out that same kind of community on a large, Kingdom-minded scale!

It is really really important for leaders in the Church to recognize and embrace this truth too. Individuals and families impacted by disability need to know they belong. As the Church, we need to get engaged with each other amidst challenges. But we don’t do this just because we are really nice people. We need to get involved in messy lives because God tells us to, because Jesus showed us how to, and because the Word promises that God will glorify Himself and give good gifts through unique people and unusual circumstances.

Godly communities make the compassion and truth of Jesus easily accessible to all who seek it.

Godly communities make the compassion and truth of Jesus easily accessible to all who seek it.

Making church and church programs accessible is a matter of eternal salvation for any person. This certainly includes people with disabilities and their families.

We have an opportunity to defend life. This opportunity has nothing to do with anyone’s ability. It has everything to do with making the Good News of Jesus known to all. Jesus is the Giver of life and the Way to life. He is the Giver of all good gifts. He witholds no good thing from those who walk in faith (Psalm 84:11). We are called to follow in that Way — to walk in that Light.

1 John 1:5-7
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Of this we can be sure:

God made each of us for a purpose and is going to help us in that purpose.


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COMMUNITY: God Works through Intersections

Many of us walk through life trying to look “put together” while internally craving connection with others in deeper and more meaningful ways. We thrive in relationships based on things like love, integrity, transparency, commitment, respectful challenge and grace. Getting “real” with others isn’t easy but it’s important.

Incredible things can happen when our lives authentically intersect with others. Ideas are exchanged, support is given, love grows, a tangible expression of God is realized. In fact, the Bible says that a loving community gives us a picture of what God is like!

“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
1 JOHN 4:12

Fifteen years ago, Walk Right In Ministries founders Larry and Lisa Jamieson were just beginning to appreciate the power of a Christ-centered community. They had seen individuals, couples and families come together into healthier, stronger and more satisfying experiences of life and God when they were connecting with others who shared their desire to grow in faith and relationships. Since they had been carried through a storm in their marriage by a small group of Bible Study friends, Larry and Lisa understood the value of prayer, encouragement and accountability on a deeply personal level. A couple of years later, their daughter Carly was born with severe disabilities and they were on the receiving end of a remarkable expression of practical help and prayer.

Unfortunately, they were also discovering that such Christ-centered, supportive communities were rare, particularly for families facing a crisis. It was troubling to meet more and more people struggling to maintain strong marriages, face adversity with hope, and experience friendships where Biblical support and prayer were central to the relationship. The Jamiesons are frequently heard saying, “the communities we’ve been part of have been remarkable but Jesus would NOT want our experience to be remarkable — He would want this to be common-place!”

At Walk Right In Ministries, we understand this two-fold challenge:

  • Christ-centered support communities are frequently unavailable or inadequate to meet people’s needs, particularly when those needs involve disability, chronic health issues or caregiving
  • Hurting people find it very difficult to reach out and ask for help in ways that empower others to respond

Walk Right In Ministries is working to build bridges among people as well as between those people and the Living God. We want to encourage you and connect you towards fellowship, churches and support communities that will help you grow in Christ and thrive in life.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
HEBREWS 10:24-25

To hear more of the Jamieson’s story about how God can use community, watch their interview on 100 Huntley Street and read Finding Glory in the Thorns.

FRIENDSHIP: The Foundation for Discipleship

Friendship is one of life’s greatest gifts. Having a trusted and encouraging friend to confide in during a time of crisis is particularly valuable. Yet for some people in the midst of challenges, the sense of loneliness and isolation can feel more overwhelming than the crisis itself. Sometimes we just need to talk with someone who “gets it.”

Walk Right In Ministries wants to support you in getting connected with someone who has “been in your shoes” but will do more than just empathize. Our prayer is that you are connected with someone who will pray with you and encourage you in your walk with God — the essential foundation for a life that truly thrives. We call friends like that “Walking Partners.”

A Walking Partner is someone who will cheer you on while helping you maintain a clear and biblical plum line against which to measure your relationships, choices, goals and dreams. You can get “social networking” and good mentoring in lots of places but Jesus-focused, disciple-growing kind of friendship like this is soul-reaching and can change lives for eternity. Walking Partners celebrate the Living God and will respectfully and lovingly share Him.

Sometimes a Walking Partner is like a “crisis coach.” You may simply need a note of encouragement from someone who has had an experience that resonates with yours. Perhaps an email or two may be enough to spur you on. On the other hand, you may appreciate meeting for coffee or going for a walk once in a while.

We believe that professional counselors would be needed in far fewer circumstances if more Christians lived out their calling to be disciples — in a lifestyle of walking shoulder-to-shoulder with one another listening, encouraging, exhorting and empowering in relationships where Christ is central to the conversation.

Walk Right In Ministries is privileged to collaborate with other like-minded individuals and organizations to help equip disciples and connect hurting people with Christ-centered support. If you have interest in connecting with a Walking Partner or want to know more about partnership with Walk Right In Ministries, contact us at info@walkrightin.org .

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-4

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
ECCLESIASTES 4:9-12

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
PROVERBS 27:17

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
2 TIMOTHY 3:16-17

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
COLOSSIANS 3:16-17

Read more about the Walking Partner model.

How Walk Right In Ministries Got Its Name

The inspiration for the name Walk Right In Ministries comes from the Bible and the experience of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River to the Promised Land.

Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away…all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.
JOSHUA 3:15-17

In the Bible, as remains true today, God always reveals His power or presence when people responded in faith toward Him. 

We are, perhaps, most familiar with Jesus’ miracles. Sometimes Jesus simply spoke a word of blessing and multiplied fish and bread. Other times his miracles came after someone expressed their faith such as reaching out to touch his garment or crashing through a roof to be near him. 

God moved miraculously in Old Testament times as well. One of the Israelites’ many remarkable experiences of God’s powerful work on their behalf occurred at the shores of the Jordan River. Forty years of wandering in the desert were about to end. The Promised Land was in sight but the harvest-season waters of the Jordan were at flood stage and as many as three million people needed to cross. 

God spoke to their leader, Joshua, and commanded that he have the priests carry the Ark of the Covenant and step into river. God’s promise was “since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you.
JOSHUA 3:4

Forty years prior to the Jordan River crossing, God had parted the Red Sea for them. Did they question whether God would do it again? Might the priests carrying that heavy ark have had any concern about their safety as they stepped into the unstable, murky water? We can’t know for certain what the Israelites were thinking that day on the brink of reacing their Promised Land once and for all. But we can be inspired by their obedience and trust.

The founders of Walk Right In Ministries— Larry & Lisa Jamieson — have learned time and again that when God says, “Go!” He is always faithful to their going. The first time they heard about this experience of the Israelites, it prompted them to take steps toward asking for help with their disabled daughter, Carly. They hoped that special therapies and support from their community would unlock unexpected developmental progress for her. It did so much more.

God used that step of faith to do immeasurably more than anyone asked or imagined and now countless lives are being changed for eternity.

Yes, Carly made unexpected progress but it turned out to be about much more than one child’s development. God knows our steps of faith are about so much more than what we think they are about!

God is often mysterious in His ways. He doesn’t often reveal what is coming next or tell us the end of the story. He just shows us single steps to take along the road of life. He prompts us to begin moving in a certain direction and then waits for us to respond in faith. When we do, He reveals something about Himself to us and often that involves showing us the next step to take…and then the next.

We walk through this winding, bumpy life one step at a time. And sometimes those faith-steps require walking right into a raging river of circumstances. No matter how extraordinary our circumstances are, God wants us to embrace the adventure right from this middle of His promises!

What step of faith is God asking you to take today?

Won’t you come walk right into life with us? After all, an entire nation crossed over to the Promised Land on dry ground!