Our pastor livestreams the Wednesday evening Bible Study through our church website and our church Facebook page. At the concluding of each study, he takes questions submitted through emails or Facebook comments.
This week, someone asked how people with severe mental disabilities can be saved. With great compassion, our pastor equated such a situation with that of a child dying in infancy. He cited 2 Samuel 12:14-23 (particularly verse 23) and Deuteronomy 32:4 to substantiate the belief that God will take people with severe intellectual disabilities to heaven.
The brief discussion reminded me of a young man who lived in the nursing home where I spent two years. Cerebral Palsy had not only rendered him a quadriplegic, but it made him blind and non-verbal. As if that wasn’t enough, he had intellectual disabilities so profound that he could almost be classified as being in a vegetative state.
Almost. When he wanted his diaper changed or a drink of juice, he could summon a nurse by barking like a seal. Loudly. If the nurses delayed, he simply continued barking until he finally got the attention he needed. Obviously he had enough self-awareness to make his needs known.
I forget what provoked it, but one afternoon I indulged in yet another one of my notorious pity parties. At age 43, I had pretty much developed self-pity into an art form, and living in a nursing home gave me more miraculous excuses to wallow in my complaints.
I sat in my room, angrily listing my grievances to the Lord. In the midst of my rant, I heard the familiar barking from two doors down. Annoyed, I scolded God, “And on top of everything else, You put a trained seal on my floor!”
Right away, I started comparing myself to that young man. He would never see a sunset. He would never sing hymns and praise songs in a church service. He would never enjoy deep conversations with close friends — in fact, he would never have a friendship of any kind. And he would never fall in love.
What in the world did I have to complain about? The Lord had blessed me so richly compared to that young man. That afternoon changed me. Even though I sometimes slip back into my patterns of self-pity, those slips are far less frequent or prolonged. The Lord used that young man in the nursing home to bring me to repentance from self-pity, changing me dramatically.
But was that young man’s only purpose for existing to bring me to repentance? I would certainly be egotistical to think so!
Listening to my pastor Wednesday evening, I rejoiced at the thought of that young man standing before the throne of God, beholding His face and singing praise to Him. For eternity, he will enjoy deep friendship with his Savior, and he will experience only perfect love. Praise God for His eternal goodness to that precious young man!