Ah, summertime! Every summer, as I was growing up, my parents had my siblings and I set summer goals. There were several categories of goals, and one of them was reading. I now associate summer with reading projects, among other things. This summer my reading project is to get ahead for my fall classes by reading four books about suffering and disability. This fall, I will be taking a class called “A Biblical Theology of Suffering, Disability, and the Church.” I’ve been wanting to take this class for a couple semesters now, so I am excited both about taking it this fall and doing the reading this summer.
I just finished reading my second book for this class, titled Same Lake, Different Boat by Stephanie O. Hubach. The one-line description for the book is “coming alongside people touched by disability.” This was an excellent read. I personally found this book to be interesting because I face disability every day in nursing. Many of the patients I know suffer with disability. This book is very helpful in highlighting the needs, challenges, and value of those touched by disability. It was also greatly informative of how the church can develop a mindset that both includes people with disabilities in the body of Christ while ministering to their needs.
What I found most interesting and most personal in Same Lake, Different Boat were Hubach’s insights on grace, brokenness, suffering, and relationships. I was fascinated by her ability to take her experience with disability (her son Timmy has Down syndrome) and shed light on much of theology. She begins by reminding her readers that because of the fall we live in an abnormal world- not as God intended it to be. Because of that, brokenness is a normal part of life that we all experience. Disability is simply a more noticeable form of brokenness- a more obvious reminder of our desperate need for grace.
We are the ones with desperate needs, and God, who is rich in grace, has met us in our need. He alone is the one operating from a position of strength. He is the one who is active in our lives- preaching, proclaiming, recovering, and releasing. The beauty of the gospel, if we truly understand it, is that each of us faces a complete barrier to participation in the kingdom of God due to the profoundly disabled condition of our hearts. The good news is that Christ’s perfect sacrifice applied to us makes our full participation in the life of God a reality.
I found chapter 7, “On Negotiating a Path to Acceptance,” to be personally challenging and helpful. Hubach is speaking specifically about how to come to a place of acceptance when realizing that disability will be a permanent part of your life. I think these truths can easily be applied to anyone facing a difficulty in their life, whether it is a disability or not. In this sense, acceptance could be defined as developing peace about the presence of a difficulty in your life. Here is the process Hubach suggests for gaining peace: release expectations, redirect by building a new life that incorporates the difficulty, incorporate new responsibilities, relinquish control to God, and realize the benefits of the place where God has taken you.
There are many more jewels I could share, but maybe you would enjoy reading them for yourself!