Thank God For My Handicap! Study No. 148

Every member of the Body of Christ has been given differing spiritual gifts from God, I Corinthians 12:1-13. We have the responsibility to discover our unique spiritual gifts, and use them, for His service.

However, many brethren donít think they have been given any spiritual gift, and that they have an excuse for not producing fruit for Christ. This wrong attitude denies verses 14-27. Our gift from God may be small, but it is important to Him, and each one of us has a vital part to fulfil in His body, the Church.

And yet, there is another side of the coin. Each one of us has obstacles, deficiencies, in other words, "handicaps." These too are the gift of God. He made us. We are the work of His hands. He knows our frame, Psalm 103:14. In this case, most of us know what some of our handicaps are. But the problem is, that we tend to dwell on the negative, hang our heads and say, "Woe is me!"

The truth is that God has given us gifts, and handicaps, for the same purpose: to help us develop character, to overcome, and to be like Him. Instead of being discouraged about our deficiencies and handicaps, we should instead praise God.

I know this is very hard to do. You may think, "My handicap is worse than yours." This may be true, but donít forget that God gave you that handicap to build character for Him.

I would like to be a gifted public speaker. Guess what my handicap is? I have a speech impediment! Why couldnít the Creator have given me great speaking ability, like Moses and Paul? They were great spellbinders, werenít they?

Although Josephus says that Moses was a great Egyptian general, we find another aspect of Moses in Exodus 4:10. God had chosen Moses to go and ask Pharaoh to free Israel from bondage. Moses protested, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, . . . I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue." Moses had a severe speech impediment! He had an ironclad excuse for not going forth as Godís spokesman. God did not deny this, yet in spite of Mosesí misgivings, God said He would be Mosesí mouth, and use Aaron if Moses could not speak.

Why was Moses, previously an Egyptian general, apprehensive to speak before Pharaoh? I think I know, because I have a speech impediment. There are times when I have no difficulty in speaking. There are other times when I can hardly say my name. I passed my "attack" speech in Spokesmanís Club the first time, and received the most improved speakerís cup. Some other speeches were disastrous. Moses may have experienced laughter and humiliation for poor speaking. I have also.

Now, what is the lesson God is trying to teach those who have speech impediments? It is hard to be proud, when you donít look good, and donít sound good. On the other hand, when you have the gift of public speaking, it is easy to be proud and vain about this superlative gift. Have you seen pictures of Hitler and Mussolini speaking proud things? Compare Daniel 7:20, 25; 11:36-37, and Psalm 12:3.

God may have given Moses a speech impediment to help Moses learn humility. Moses worked with this deficiency, and generally overcame his tendency to become proud. Numbers 12:3 says, "(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)" God could use a humble man like Moses to deliver His Words to His people. It would be ridiculous for one with a speech handicap to take credit for Godís eloquent words! His handicap kept Moses relying on God. Truly, all things, even his handicap, worked together for good.

And then there is Paul, that brilliant scholar who was trained at the best rabbinical school, Acts 22:3. Surely this great Apostle of God was a wonderful speaker! Well, no, he had the same handicap as Moses: "For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible," II Corinthians 10:10. Not only was Paul not a gifted speaker, but he also appeared to be a weakling, the type at which "muscle beach" men kick sand!

Think about it, did God call Paul to be an Apostle because of Paulís inherent abilities, or because of what God, through weak Paul, could do with His mighty power? Did Paul dwell on his handicaps, or did he work with them, and use his spiritual gifts as well, for Godís service?

Bible students are not sure just what Paul meant when he referred to his "thorn in the flesh" that would not go away, II Corinthians 12:7. It could have been a lingering illness. Or, it might have been his speech handicap. Regardless, Paul asked God three times for this infirmity to depart from him. The Almighty said (my paraphrase), "No, Paul, my grace is enough for you, my strength is made perfect in your weakness."

Now Paul understood why he had this problem. He saw that his handicap resulted in the power of Christ resting upon him. Therefore, Paul gloried in his infirmities, his reproaches and distresses. When he was weak, he became strong through Godís power, not his own, verses 8-10.

I understand Moses and Paul a little better now, because they struggled with the same handicap that I do.

So where does that leave us? The Eternal used Moses and Paul, who had debilities which most do not have. Can He not also use us, if we are His willing servants? The real problem we have today is NOT the lack of spiritual gifts in the Church. It is our unwillingness to USE our God-given talents, and overcome our handicaps, by relying totally and completely on His Holy Spirit. We should say, "Thank God for my handicap!" Our weaknesses can be great tools to help us serve Him. W