I feel no shame for needing a wheelchair, nor should I. Instead, I feel gratitude that I live in a time and place that allows me to have a power wheelchair. My wheelchair helps me get around the apartment, travel between Adult Sunday School and church services, and roam around downtown Boston. Crutches and wheelchairs provide marvelous freedom to people who would otherwise be bedridden.
So I can’t help laughing when someone accuses me of using Jesus as an emotional crutch. During my high school years, people hurled that line at me quite a bit, always with the implication that I should be ashamed of leaning on Him. Such people proudly imagine that they don’t need the Lord — that they have all the psychological resources necessary to get through life.
Maybe so. But that outlook assumes that this life only has a material dimension and that nothing exists after death. It seems to me that it also requires a hefty amount of denial.
Christians, however, well understand just how weak we really are. When we go through intense trials, we often wonder aloud how non-Christians manage to get through similar circumstances. We know how deep our weaknesses go and how desperately we need a Savior!
The apostle Paul certainly acknowledged his dependency on Christ. As a matter of fact, he turned that dependency into a reason for boasting about the Lord.
7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~~2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (ESV)
Paul derived his strength from Christ rather than from some supposed inner resources. As far as he was concerned, his weaknesses actually showcased Christ’s strength. Instead of feeling shame for needing Christ, Paul took delight in how Christ sustained him.
I received a new power wheelchair this past year. Not only does it maneuver better than my old chair (which served me well for six years), but it reclines in addition to tilting so that I can breathe better. Already, I’ve been able to participate in congregational singing at church more easily because of the recline feature. I’m sorry I don’t have a photo of the new chair to include with this article.
If I didn’t need a wheelchair, it would be silly to tell you about the features of my new chair, or even to tell you how well my last one served me. Somehow I think you’d roll your eyes and question my sanity. But my obvious need for a wheelchair makes this chair wonderful, doesn’t it?
Just as I gratefully depend on wheelchairs, so I depend on Christ. And my dependence on Him helps me understand how wonderful He is! There’s no shame in needing Him.