But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.—2 Corinthians 4:7-10
Like pottery, we are the creation of the Potter’s hand. And like jars of clay, we are fragile…but with every detail put into His creation and every creature being unique, He breathes life into what He has made. And it is beautiful. It is His. And it is alive. There are no flaws in His craftsmanship and there are no mistakes. He created every detail according to His plan. The cracks? More room for His mortar. The curves? More opportunity to see His beauty. The holes? More space for Him to fill. The crumbles? More opportunity for Him to touch and rebuild.
All too often, we notice the cracks, curves, crumbles, and holes before we see the beauty of the whole creation. We might call them flaws or defects…maybe even abnormalities. But all were made with His hands, with His purpose and glory in mind. How can we doubt the perfection of what He has created?
I see the little boy. I see that his muscles appear to have no tone. I see that he lies practically motionless on the front porch of his house. I hear the family. He can’t do anything. He can’t walk. He can’t talk. He can’t eat regular food. He doesn’t sleep well. He will never grow up to be anything. He is an embarrassment to us…walking through the village, going to church are not things that we do with him. People talk and humiliate us. His life is not worth anything because he has many problems…he has defects. He will never grow up to be anything. We do not want him…he is flawed.
My heart breaks. Slowly, gently, I search for words. I am able to share my own story. Not only do I have cracks, holes, and plenty of curves myself, but I have a child with different abilities. I know that life is not easy and I know that I also allow questions to run through my head and heart sometimes. My story is different than theirs, but it offers perspective. My prayer is that it offers hope. It offers empathy and understanding. My story of parenting is completely imperfect, especially vulnerable, and not at all what they expected this person from America to say. It begins with, “I hear you and I think I understand”.
Slowly, we move toward understanding the hearts of the parents. Their culture has taught them much of their belief system regarding children with special needs. Providing for a child with special needs in a third world country can feel impossible. He needs special food…they cannot even afford the typical food for the rest of the family. How can they feed him? He goes days without food…I ask myself…do they do this on purpose so that maybe he will no longer be here? His developmental stages have been paralyzed because he doesn’t receive proper nutrition (along with not receiving many other things that contribute to proper development). His survival needs are not being met.
I have learned though. Before I can intervene and minister to the child, I need to minister to the parents. Their own survival needs are not being met. How can I encourage them to be better parents when their stomachs are growling and they are thirsty? God alone, is the living water…but is that what they need to hear today? My mind is racing…if only I could make this situation go away. God’s gentle whisper gives me peace…I am not here to fix this…I am here to offer hope and walk along side a family that is hurting and in need. His promises give me hope, and I can share those with the family. His love is endless, all-encompassing, unconditional, and it covers a multitude of sins. I want that love…I want to show this family His love. Broken? He is the great Healer. Confused? His life and Word provide answers. Hungry? He is the great provider. Thirsty? Indeed, He is the living water. Weary? He will give you rest.
Another verse comes to mind…
Then Jesus said, “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.” —Matthew 11:28
Hope. Peace. Love.
Jars of clay.