June Heale wrote the following in the PresbyCan Daily devotional of January 12, 2016, titled "Vertically Challenged?":
- I wonder if, like me, you are vertically challenged. I used to be five feet two inches, not the tallest in the world — and me with six-foot brothers and a mother who was five feet eight inches. Now in my old age, I have shrunk to just barely over five feet …
Like June, I am vertically challenged and thus could put a ditto mark after most of what she wrote. But unlike June, I had only one six-foot-something brother, and my mother was shorter than I am now!
Being five feet short presents challenges in my daily living. For instance, if I want to reach anything atop my refrigerator or in my upper cabinets or on the closet's top shelf, I must haul out the step stool to reach the item. My short height means that I must use extra effort to achieve my goal. It also means that I can have compassion for those who are even shorter than I am. Their lives are harder than mine, requiring more effort and ingenious adaptations in their environment. For example, when my four-foot-eight-inch short cousin built her home, she had the kitchen designed for her height by lowering countertops and upper cupboards. Instead of adapting herself to her environment, she adapted it to fit her needs.
Jesus had enormous compassion for the physically challenged. Instead of adapting the environment to make life easier for them, He healed the sick, lame, deaf, speechless, and many blind people, but once near Bethsaida, He had challenges to overcome.
Mark 8:22-25 – They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?" He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around." Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. (NIV)
Unfortunately, not everyone is healed, but like Jesus, we must have compassion for those with such challenges. Particularly, there are devices and adaptations that our churches can install for their assistance. We can build ramps and elevators for sanctuary access by wheelchairs. We need to make sure that transportation to church is provided for those without. We can put raised Braille dots on entry doors and ensure that there are ushers to assist the blind to their seats. For the hearing-impaired, there are wonderful hearing-assistance devices, and printed words can be displayed on overhead screens. For people like my son who are mentally challenged, and for those whose mother tongue is not English, sermon points can be shown on an overhead screen written in words that are easy to read and understand.
Prayer: Lord God, enable us always to be sensitive to the needs of those who are physically challenged. We pray for Your healing hands to touch the infirm and those with mental and physical challenges, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.