When we speak of God we typically think in categories of “omni” – such as “omnipotent” (all-powerful); “omniscient” (all-knowing); “omnibenevolent” (all-good); or “omnipresent” (all-present). Such philosophical ponderings can lead to some silly conundrums, such as the one a religion professor posed to a class I was taking in college. It went something like this: “If God is all-powerful, can God make a rock so heavy that God cannot lift it?” His follow-up was equally disturbing, “If God is all-good, who created evil?”
Logical absurdities aside, many take comfort in believing in a God that is all and everything.
Have you ever thought of God as disabled? What comes to your mind when you hear the word, “disabled?” Some synonyms for this word include incapacitated, restricted, immobilized, and hindered. Such words seem inappropriate for the Lord of the Universe.
Again I ask, have you ever thought of God as disabled?
The Bible does. In Isaiah we read:
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering[a] and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces[b]
he was despised, and we held him of no account. (53:2b-3)
But the text that really grabs me by the collar and shakes me is the ancient hymn Paul quotes in Philippians chapter 2:
Let the same mind be in you that was[a] in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross. (5-8)
There it is in black and white and Helvetica type: the disabled God.
And even in the resurrection, we have reminders of God’s sacred condescending to us. Jesus was, after all, resurrected, scars and all.
In this world we madly scramble towards perfection and idolize those we think are perfect. Botox promises perfect cheeks; contacts will give us perfect eye color; wealth managers guide us towards perfect retirements; and though none of us will make it, we can watch our Olympians achieve perfection in the swimming pool, the track and the balance beam.
We have no room or time for disabilities. As such disabilities are met with scorn or pity.
It should come as no mystery then how tragic and cosmically cruel it can feel when we slam face-first into our limitations. There is the depression that clouds the heart with doubt and despair; the heart murmur suggesting all is not well; the trick knee that no longer allows you to run the bases for the softball team; or the mysterious lump that shows up in a radiology report.
I know what it is like to face finitude because I just turned 50! It is just a number, and to some of you, not that big of a number. Nevertheless it has become a symbolic marker that not only am I no longer a vibrant youth, I will no longer be as strong, as handsome, as smart, or as talented as was my potential a short decade ago.
And that is okay.
I am loved by a disabled God, dwelling in a disabled world, and somehow, in the sacred mystery of it all, I am enabled by this to live out my life. So are you, thanks be to God, who was resurrected, wounds and all.
This is where we will find the Omnipotent God – dwelling alongside the broken but redeemed creation.