“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
God promises us He’ll make our weaknesses strong (unto us) if we humble ourselves before Him and have faith in Him.
While this scripture may mean our weaknesses will be taken away, that’s not always the case. Sometimes instead of taking away our trials, the Lord strengthens us to be equal to our trials. Those who learn to forget themselves and serve others despite their challenges leave inspiring legacies. The beauty of life is found when men and women forget about themselves- their weaknesses, their trials, their worries- and focus on others.
Throughout history there’ve been countless heros who overcame challenges associated with their disabilities and lived to serve others. Here are a few.
Seven people who overcame their disability:
Well-known people with disabilities
- Thomas Edison (1847-1931)- Edison couldn’t read until age 12- some thought he had a learning disability. Edison lost much his hearing due to scarlet fever and an angry train conductor hitting him in the ears when his chemicals caught fire on a boxcar. Despite these challenges Edison invented 1,093 things, including the phonograph, motion picture camera and light bulb. He taught by example that we all have great potential to accomplish good in this life, and to have fun in the process. “I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945)- Despite being permanently paralyzed from the waist down at age 39 due to an illness, Roosevelt became one of America’s most beloved presidents. He is the only U.S. President who served more than two terms (four terms). During his presidency he was in a wheelchair. Despite his challenges, President Roosevelt created Social Security (for the poor, elderly and sick), the Civilian Conservation Corps (that employed 250,000 young men to work on local rural projects) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (to regulate Wallstreet). He also helped build dams and power stations in the then poverty-stricken Tennessee.
- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)- Einstein couldn’t speak until age 3. Some thought he had a learning disability as he struggled with math and writing in school. Despite his challenges, Albert Einstein founded theories of modern physics, including: the theory of relativity, the mass-energy equation and the photoelectric effect.
- Stephen Hawking (1942-present)- At around the age of 20, Hawking began to show symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, that caused his eventual paralysis. Despite his condition, Stephen continued his studies at Cambridge and became one of the most famous theoretical physicists. He talks using a speech synthesizer.
- Nick Vujicic (1982-present)- Vujicic was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, that caused him to have no arms or legs. Despite the immense challenge of having no limbs, Vujicic preaches about God and gives motivational speeches across the globe (he’s spoken to over three million people in 24 countries). Nick inspires you to have faith and be grateful for what you have. He gives hope to those who have disabilities. “If you can’t get a miracle, become one.”
People with disabilities who I know
- Craig Decker (1982-2008)- I met Craig in 2007, while singing in a BYU choir. When I first met Craig I noticed one of his hands was missing. Using good humor, Craig talked about his encounter with pirates who cut off his hand. Then he said he was joking and that he actually lost his hand when a shark bit it off. Finally he told me the true story- that he lost his hand when a firework accident. I admired Craig’s optimism from the start. I enjoyed being around him. Craig showed me that we can be an example to others by the way we react to our personal challenges. He showed me that we can help others feel good about themselves and find happiness in focusing on what really matters- caring for others. In 2008, Craig passed away in Utah Lake when his sailing boat was caught in the middle of a storm. Craig swam to get an oar that fell off the boat, but couldn’t make it back to the boat, swimming against the three-foot waves. When I went to Craig’s funeral my heart was filled with love and gratitude for the noble life he lived. Craig inspires me to be a better person and help those around me.
- Jeremy Harvey (1991-present)- Jeremy was born with cerebral palsy and vision impairment. I met Jeremy at an Especially for Youth (EFY) church camp in Vermont. I was about 14, he was about 13. I remember being impressed at his optimism and testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Despite having difficulty seeing and walking, Jeremy pursued his talents. Jeremy started playing piano at age 2, has perfect pitch and can play song after song by memory, creating transpositions on the spot. I remember sitting with about 500 youth in a white chapel listening to Jeremy play the piano for about an hour. I don’t know if he realized this, but his music brought tears to my eyes. Jeremy’s kind spirit’s exemplified in a prayer he made where he expressed gratitude and love to the Lord, and where he prayed for more challenges to help him progress. Jeremy taught me that challenges can be blessings.
“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”
Personal Notes: I think it’s important for us to think less of ourselves. Much of our suffering may be self-provoked, because we choose to dwell of negative thoughts. My challenge for myself and for you is to strive to be positive and serve others more.