- down and out
- in need of forgiveness
- suffering from extenuating circumstances
- a person with an exceptionality
Most of the time, people in these circumstances are in need of grace for today and bright hope for tomorrow. They need mercy and understanding extended to them. Mercy for the giver and the receiver can be TRANSFORMING.
This semester I have begun teaching a class at the University called Human Exceptionality. It is a class that I taught for many years while teaching at York College in Nebraska. The word exceptionality means "not the norm". The class focus is humans...people....people who because of nothing that they have chosen are in circumstances beyond their control and "qualify" to be served under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)in some way, shape or form. Some of these exceptionalities include:
- Learning Disabilities
- Physical or Mental Handicaps
- Other health impairments, which might include: Diabetes, ADHD, Heart problems, etc.
I have served over the years as a teacher, coordinator, caseworker, and director/administrator of services for people with exceptionalities. Each of my four children has been in either one or two or three of the catagories above at one time. It's overwhelming...for the person and the person's family.
In schools, communities, and, sadly, in churches I have often heard people with exceptionalities termed as "lazy" or "hopeless". I've even heard "I wonder what the mother or father did to cause that to happen?" I've heard judgment when mercy was needed.
Just like you and me, everyone needs HOPE for the future. It's TRANSFORMING! My sisters in Christ, Kristi and Debbie, have extended mercy, grace, and hope to our family. Many of you have done the same. Our daughter Jessica suffers from excruciating migraines. She had to drop out of high school....went through college in bits and pieces... And, now at the age of 25, she is home again living with us because it's getting worse. We are no longer able to carry her on our health insurance. So, Kristi and Debbie are walking me through (holding my hand) as I help Jessica apply for social services, social security disability and related benefits. It's overwhelming!
As we sat in the Social Services office last week on multiple days, I was not alone. One day, I counted 75 of us crammed into a small room waiting, waiting, and waiting some more. I looked into the eyes of those who had lost their jobs. I overheard people telling their stories of lost hope, discouragement, and even of living on the streets. I wept on the inside.
Jessica's name was called and we were escorted to a little cubicle office. As we sat down, I noticed the framed print hanging on the wall above the computer. I was thankful for the person who had thought to put it there.
Jessica's caseworker shook our hands and introduced himself as "Mr. Hope". I laughed, appreciating the levity. I really did not think that was his name but it was. In, fact, it wasn't his office and he had not noticed that framed print before. Thank you, God! Jessica and I needed that reminder of HOPE FOR TOMORROW as we started the paperwork.
Later that day, at the hair salon, they were giving away New Testaments. Amazing! Look at the cover. I asked if I could have one for me and one for my daughter..
Please join me right now as we look at a few words of mercy, grace, and hope from the New Testament:
2 Corinthians 3:17-4:1
Now the Lord is the Spirit;
and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is liberty.
18 But we all, with unveiled face
beholding as in a mirror
the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image
from glory to glory,
just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
Therefore, since we have this ministry...
...as we received mercy,
we do not lose heart..."
"He saved us, not on the basis of deeds
which we have done in righteousness,
but according to His mercy,
by the washing of regeneration and
renewing by the Holy Spirit,
6 whom He poured out upon us richly
through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7 that being justified by His grace
we might be made heirs
according to the hope of eternal life."
"But the wisdom from above is
full of mercy and good fruits,
1 Peter 1:3
"Blessed be the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who according to His great mercy
has caused us to be born again
to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ
from the dead..."
As, we moved to New Jersey in 2007, our oldest son Jordan and his wife, Jacqueline, gave us a crystal stand inscribed with the words below. It has continued to be so encouraging. Yet, this morning as I think of Jacqueline (in her eighth month of pregnancy), I pray for God's love, grace, and mercy to envelope her and give her hope as she and her family grieve the passing of her wonderful christian grandfather, Lowell Keesee.
fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
that you may abound in HOPE
by the power of the Holy Spirit."
God has given some the gift of mercy. Our daughter-in-law, Jacqueline has that gift. Click here to see Jacqueline and her grandpa.http://jordandjacqueline.blogspot.com/