BreakPoint: Blessings with Disabilities

You Can’t Put a Price Tag on What’s Priceless

We live in a world that’s constantly calculating the value of people with disability, even though we know that they’re priceless.

In Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” the pre-reformed Ebenezer Scrooge says that if the poor and crippled are going to die “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population,” words he bitterly regrets when the Ghost of Christmas Present shows him one of these “surplus” people—Tiny Tim.

Echoes of Scrooge were found in a recent viral video in which a Dutch public health official appears to explain to a man with Down syndrome that he’s costing society approximately “48 thousand Euros a year,” almost ten times what so-called “normal” persons cost annually.

“Wow,” says the young man with Down syndrome.

The video understandably sparked outrage on social media. But as it turns out, the outrage in this instance was misplaced.

The folks over at Hot Air did a little digging and found that the offending clip, which was from a two-year-old TV series called “The Last Downer,” was produced by an evangelical Christian broadcasting company and hosted by two individuals with Down syndrome. In context, this Dutch official with the chalkboard, evidently, was making the case for valuing those with disability, not a case against them. Thank God, this particular Scrooge turned out to be fictional.

But tragically, the idea of tallying the value of a person’s life is anything but fiction. There really is a campaign to eliminate people with disability because of their cost and inconvenience. Back in August, news broke that several European countries, most notably Iceland, are nearing a 100 percent abortion rate for babies diagnosed in the womb with Down syndrome.

And make no mistake: this is what a materialist worldview always inevitably does to people, in one way or another—calculates their usefulness. To those who don’t acknowledge the profound and equal dignity imparted to all by nature of being made in the image of God, it’s only natural to use some extrinsic quality by which to assign a price tag to individuals.

But Christians have something radically different and beautiful to offer—a vision of unconditional love rooted in our common humanity and the example of Jesus.

Few men understood this better than Chuck Colson and R. C. Sproul. For these two giants in the faith, the value of each person no matter his or her ability was more than just an intellectual position. It was deeply personal. Both were grandfathers blessed by God with grandchildren who had a disability.

Yes, I used the word “blessed” there, carefully and intentionally. Chuck said that he couldn’t imagine the Colson family without his grandson Max, who has autism. “This former Nixon ‘hatchet man’ has learned more about love from Max than from anyone else,” Chuck often said.

My friend Joni Eareckson Tada featured the story of Max and his mom, Emily, on a television special several years ago. Also featured was theologian and apologist R. C. Sproul, who just last week entered the Lord’s glory. Sproul spent his life teaching on the sovereignty of God. But that belief was tested when God blessed his son’s family with Shannon, a beautiful little girl with a rare brain disorder.

For fifteen years, Shannon brought “warmth and unconditional love” to the Sproul family before tragically passing away in 2012, shortly after her mom. I can only imagine the joyous reunion that she, her mother, and her grandfather have now experienced.

Folks, this is just how worldviews work—at least when we’re being consistent. To paraphrase Deuteronomy, before us has been laid “life and death, blessings and curses.” Those on the side of life must remind the world that a person’s value can never be tallied on a chalkboard. We must never put a price tag on blessings that God considers priceless.

 

Blessings with Disabilities: You Can’t Put a Price Tag on What’s Priceless

Worldviews do matter. Christians see every life as precious because we are all made in the image of God. Check out the recorded television special John mentioned, put out by Joni and Friends. You can get a copy at the online bookstore.

Resources

When Disability Hits Home
  • Chuck Colson and R.C. Sproul | Joni and Friends
Dancing with Max: A Mother and Son Who Broke Free
  • Emily Colson, Chuck Colson | Zondervan Publishing | 2010

Comment Policy: Commenters are welcome to argue all points of view, but they are asked to do it civilly and respectfully. Comments that call names, insult other people or groups, use profanity or obscenity, repeat the same points over and over, or make personal remarks about other commenters will be deleted. After multiple infractions, commenters may be banned.

  • Just One Voice

    This topic REALLY hits home for me, seeing that I’ve fought epilepsy my whole life.

    I know my parents value life enough that they would NEVER entertain the idea of discarding it, even if they knew before hand that it carried a “disability.”

    And quite honestly, society labels us folks as having a disability, yet I firmly believe we carry a unique A-bility, compared to the general population. One of the side effects of my epilepsy has been that I can’t always talk as fast & keep up with conversation. So, at a very young age, I developed a strong ability to listen with my ears AND with my eyes. In my experience, most people can’t even listen with one ear.

    Additionally, I was labeled as a bit slow in academics. And yet, I have now achieved a master’s degree and even got started on a degree in CAD (didn’t finish ’cause I got hired out of the program).

    Finally, you take some of these people who have ADD, (or something else that I can’t think of right now). They’re labeled as being not completely with it, and yet, they sit down and play a song on the piano having never practiced that song before; or something else just as amazing.

    I’m tempted to voice my other inner feelings, but, I’ll just let the Word of God speak now:

    1 Corinthians 8:2 “If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.”

    Ecclesiastes 8:17 “…then I saw all the work of God, that man
    cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man
    may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man
    claims to know, he cannot find it out.”

    1 Corinthians 3:18 “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise
    in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.”

    • urbanvrwcmom

      God bless you and Merry CHRISTmas!

      • Just One Voice

        Thank you! You likewise!

        Autism, was the “something else that I can’t think of right now.”

        Additionally, and I’m surprised I didn’t think of this verse right off the bat; it’s been my “life verse” many times: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 http://biblehub.com/esv/2_corinthians/12.htm

        Let that passage sink in DEEP for a moment. When’s the last time you heard of someone “boasting gladly” about their weaknesses (or disability)? Moreover, being “content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities”?