by Joni Eareckson Tada (Joni and Friends)



     When Cody was born with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, it left him paralyzed and unable to speak, deaf, and blind. He also receives nutrition through a feeding tube. This child's disability is truly severe.

     I spent time with Cody at one of our recent Joni and Friends' Family Retreats. His foster parents provide care not only for him, but two other children with disabilities. After one of the evening sessions, I watched Cody's mom rock his wheelchair back and forth. "How are you able to connect with him?" I asked.

     "When Cody cries," she replied, "I'll gently brush his cheek with my hand, and he'll stop right away. He smiles and this lets me know he's alert."

     I parked my wheelchair next to this little boy, and touched his face with my hand. I silently prayed for him, and thought of those who would say, "Take out his feeding tube and let him starve to death. He can't do a single thing."

     But immediately I recalled the words of the apostle Paul, "... regard no one from a worldly point of view" (2 Corinthians 5:16). Paul also reminds us that "... inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen..." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

     No one can see the spiritual activity happening in Cody's life. God's inward work cannot be empirically measured or quantified. But it's there. And that spiritual activity gives precious value to his life, no matter how disabled he may be. Cody is an image bearer of God - he bears God's imprint of life and joy with every smile he gives his mother.

     Second Corinthians 4 says that our earthly afflictions are light and momentary compared to the resounding weight of glory our response to them is earning. Just think of the glorious eternal estate awaiting Cody. His life is an expression of perfect patience and consummate long-suffering. He does not complain or lash out. In fact, when he cries, whether due to pain or fear, Cody immediately responds to the smallest of loving touches-the brush of a hand on his cheek.

     In what ways can your response to your present sufferings expand your joy, worship and service to God in heaven? If the grace of God can sustain a child with a severe disability, what more can His grace do in your life? Will you say with the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong"?

     Our skeptical, cynical world insists that Cody is better off dead than disabled. Yet this remarkable child inspires everyone who takes time to sit next to him and feel his courage. And he's doing it without lifting a finger or hearing a word of encouragement. When it comes to testifying to God's sustaining grace, Cody is a powerful witness. Jesus said in Acts 1:8, "you will be my witnesses..." Cody does a great job of simply "being" a witness for Jesus. What does your Christian witness say to unbelievers around you?


  • First, consider how the name of Christ, and His reputation, may be at stake in the way you respond individually to hardships. Continue to spend time in prayer and repentance, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to you in your area of struggle and bring consolation. Ask the Helper to use your hardships to draw you closer to the Father, guiding you to a godly response in every affliction, and thereby, to make Christ's name great among the nations. Reflect on Psalm 131.
  • Identify the abortion clinics near you. Pray for the workers by name, if possible. Meditate on 2 Corinthians 4:4, Colossians 1:15, Psalm 8:3-8. Reflect on the image of God and how we are His image-bearers. Pray these Scriptures on behalf of the staff at the clinics; that the light of God's truth and His glory would penetrate their blindness. Pray that God would use the weak things to confound the strong and bring them to repentance (1 Corinthians 1:27).
  • Praise God for the crisis pregnancy centers in your area. Locate the names of staff workers, if possible, and pray blessing (Numbers 6:24-26) into their lives and vocation.
PO Box 915, Purcellville, VA 20134