Peace be with you!
Even in the Old Testament, society has its preconceived notions about how individuals should handle certain situations. Today, society treats individuals in wheelchairs as though they are not able to live normal lives by holding a job, getting married, or having a family. Because my speech is difficult to understand, and my muscle movements are hard to control, people who meet me in public treat me as though I have a cognitive disability rather than just physical disability. It is difficult for me to break the barrier between the preconceived notions about my disability and the reality of my abilities.
For twenty years, Isaac’s wife Rebekah is barren, and Isaac prays to Lord (Genesis 25:21). Those twenty years must have been frustrating for Rebekah, because it was her responsibility to bear children to Isaac to fulfill the Lord’s promise to Abraham and Sarah. For twenty years, Isaac prays to the Lord, asking him to fulfill his promise and grant him children. Then when the Lord answers Isaac’s prayers, Rebekah gets pregnant with twins and has a difficult pregnancy (Genesis 25:22a). She begs the Lord, “After being barren for twenty years, why am I going through this?” (Genesis 25:22). The Lord explains, “You are having twins who will be leaders of two separate nations. They are battling inside your womb. The older twin will serve the younger twin” (Genesis 25:23). By making the younger twin stronger than the older twin, the Lord is upsetting the social norm where the older son would inherit everything from his father and the younger son(s) would serve him.
When Rebekah gives birth to the twins, the youngest (Jacob) comes out gripping the older’s (Esau) heel (Genesis 25:26). Esau grows up to be a skillful hunter and a farmer, and because of this, his father favors him (Genesis 25:27a, 28a). Jacob is a quiet man who stays inside the tents learning to cook from his mother who favors him (Genesis 25:27b, 28b).
One day, while Esau works hard in the fields, Jacob makes a stew. When he comes in, Esau is starving and immediately wants some stew (Genesis 25:30). Jacob drives a hard bargain and demands Esau sell his birthright to him (Genesis 25:31-33). Esau agrees to give Jacob his birthright just to have some stew (25:33bc). Esau only thinks short term by satisfying his hunger pains, while Jacob thinks long term (though through trickery and cunning) by demanding the birthright. The preconceived notions of ancient culture would lead us to root for the older twin, but Scripture topples those notions and elevates the young one.
Society has its preconceived notions about what individuals with disabilities can do. When an individual is hurt in an accident and is made wheelchair-bound, society feels bad for the individual and will raise funds for her medical expenses. Society often forgets the individual who is now in a wheelchair is still a person who can still make contributions to the world. A wheelchair just changes how an individual gets around. Just the other week, I met a young lady who was injured in an accident two years ago and marked the day with a “wheeliversary” to celebrate her second chance at life. She sees her accident as God giving her a new life and a chance to begin again. Being in a wheelchair does not stop this young lady; instead, the wheelchair enhances her life by giving her a new perspective and new opportunities.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for Rebekah’s strength to bear twins through a difficult pregnancy and birth. Give us strength through difficult times in our lives. Lead us to not be trapped by preconceived notions and prejudices, and remind us of the many blessings in our lives. Thank you for your strength. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- Which preconceived notions do you have? Which do you fight against?
- Where do you find your strength?