Jesus understands us. He experienced the sorrow, pain, and hurt that comes along with being human. Jesus’s body was a human body, in all its fleshy-ness and vulnerabilities. Experiencing incarnation means embodying limits.
In the nativity story, we see characters who were affected by bodily pain and discomfort: Elizabeth who in her old-age had an at-risk pregnancy; magi who experienced the aches and pains of a long journey; shepherds who spent their nights sleeping under the stars amidst animals; Mary, who not only experienced her body changing due to pregnancy for the first time, but also felt the judgement of society for being unwed; Zechariah was unable to speak for the duration of Elizabeth’s pregnancy; and Joseph struggled emotionally with his betrothed’s pregnancy.
Having a disability or caring for disabled loved ones can feel isolating; even the most well-meaning people don’t fully understand what it feels like to be in constant pain or to fear the perceptions of others. Surrounded by the most supportive, caring communities, people affected by disabilities and mental illness can still feel utterly alone.
But Jesus continues to accompany us through all our experiences. Just as each character in our story found hope in the presence of Jesus, we too can find comfort in knowing that Jesus moves among us. God is with us; God understands us; God cares for us and hurts with us. Jesus heals us and brings us hope.Immanuel, God is with us.
Merry Christmas, from the staff of Anabaptist Disabilities Network.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.” Romans 15:13
Emily serves as Communications Director for ADN. With a bachelor's degree in Biblical and Theological studies from Bluffton University, Emily developed an enthusiasm for creating healthy communities in college, and she remains convinced that communities are healthiest when everyone is welcomed and embraced as they are. Emily believes that members of the community function best when needs are met, and she is passionate about breaking down the barriers that prevent true community from forming. Emily lives in Goshen, Indiana, with her husband, Micah, and her cat, Cosmo.