The Lame Shall Walk

by Doreen Lau

There are sometimes things we take for granted. When we are able-bodied, we rarely give thought to the less advantaged among us. Jesus counselled us to love one another – to take care of our brethren. Writer Doreen Lau shares how a personal experience and an inspirational friend shaped her worldview and challenged her to do her part in caring for the disadvantaged.

When we are able-bodied, fit, and healthy, we perform our morning rituals every day effortlessly and unconsciously without any forethought. We take for granted our ability to walk, shower, or exercise as a given that will last perpetually. But this is not the case for people living with a disability. Seemingly simple tasks such as getting dressed, washing up, or bathing can become more challenging or even impossible when you are living with a disability. I experienced being a disabled for more than six months after my knee replacement surgery of both knees. Stepping into the shoes of the disabled gave me a glimpse of the challenges the physically disabled and visually impaired face daily. I learned that people living with a disability need help continuously to lead full and fulfilling lives.

I was immobilised for the first two days after the surgery. Being fiercely independent all my life, it was a hardship to be so dependent on others for my every basic need.  Any feelings of embarrassment I had were thrown out of the window. I closed my eyes, gritted my teeth, and submitted to the ministrations of the nurses for the next two days. When I left the hospital and could walk with the aid of a walker, I faced a regime that was totally alien to me. Performing simple tasks like washing myself or changing clothes which normally took a few minutes were a painful, slow process that would take at least an hour. The effort of sitting down or standing up had to be cautiously performed in slow motion so that no injuries would be inflicted on the knees.

I realised I could not take the journey to recovery without the assistance of others. Thankfully a team of sisters from my spiritual family came to my rescue. They cooked, shopped for things I needed urgently, and took turns to send me to the hospital for my physiotherapy sessions. They lovingly obeyed the Lord’s commandment to love one another. Without their assistance I would not have survived the months of rehabilitation. My sister, a non-believer, witnessed the care and love of this band of true disciples of Christ and was deeply touched.

As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)

The daily dependence on others to perform every simple task took a toll on me. After a couple of months, I began to chafe at the restricted mobility. But then my situation was only temporary. How do the many physically disabled and visually challenged cope with their disabilities of a lifetime, and for some, with no hope of recovery?

Then I recalled the heart-breaking story of Sally (not her real name) who was born physically disabled at birth. Her life journey was filled with endless challenges and setbacks at every turn.  But her hope for recovery never wavered. Sally’s ultimate goal in life is to walk upright on her own even if it takes a lifetime of painful exercises and physiotherapy. Raised by her grandmother who carried her everywhere during her early childhood, Sally’s feet had never touched the floor until she was 15 years old.

Sally entered a government-owned rehabilitation centre where she learned basic living skills to enable her to face the world alone independently.  It was in this rehabilitation centre that Sally endured three years of painful physiotherapy before she could stand and walk for the first time. That momentous day when she could stand up was a turning point in her life. She could now walk short distances with the aid of crutches.  Every small step of improvement in her mobility was a giant leap for her. Sally’s courage and determination to take the long arduous road to full recovery put us all who are able-bodied to shame.

Armed with greater mobility Sally managed to get a job. In her workplace she faced uncooperative colleagues who resented her presence and deliberately sabotaged her work performance. Then she decided to start a small business selling goat’s milk and frozen food in a morning market to gain financial freedom. Sally faced endless problems while in business. Her products for sale were stolen and she lost her hard-earned savings to a dishonest supplier. But the Lord provided for her when she found a new supplier and her losses were offset by a kind woman who gave her a love gift of RM1000.

Another challenge Sally faced was inconsiderate drivers with no compassion for the disabled on the road. Sally met with two hit-and-run car accidents one of which knocked her down into a deep drain, leaving her to shout for help for half an hour before she was rescued.  It was through the grace of God that she was rescued in both accidents.  

Despite all the challenges she has to face, Sally is thankful for the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in her life and for His many blessings.  She hopes that by sharing the endless challenges the disabled face daily, society will be more compassionate and kind towards them.  Sally also has a heart for mission work.  She believes that she should be a role model for people living with a disability. She visits the disabled at orphanages and old folks’ homes to share her story and the Good News of the Gospel regularly.  Sally may be lame but with the aid of her wheelchair, she “walked” with a lamp at her feet.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalms 119:105 NIV)

I believe that the Lord’s commandment to love one another include loving the unlovable, the disabled, the marginalised, and the rejects of society. We should always help the disabled in every which way we can to make their lives easier. When you see them in public, look beyond their physical appearances. Think of the painstaking efforts some of them have to go through in order to appear decently presentable in public.  All they need is patience and compassion, not disdain when they appear in public, and to be acknowledged that they are also rightfully a part of the community.

Jesus of Bethesda

The Bible has recorded several miracles Jesus Christ performed to help the lame walk. We cannot do great things like Jesus Christ but we can do little things such as respecting the parking space designated for the disabled, helping them to cross the road, and making way for them in queues where there are no special counters to take care of their needs. Businesses can practise social responsibility by donating wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches to help the lame walk. Together, we can help the disabled lead more meaningful lives. Every small effort will make a big difference in the lives of people living with a disability. 

As Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

About the Writer

From a very young age, Doreen Lau has had a heart for evangelism and the deep belief in the power of words and stories to heal and encourage. Though she embarked for London as a young woman to train as a nurse, the Lord had different plans for her. Coming from a background in which she has had to be resilient, Doreen’s life has been shaped and directed by the Lord to be one of ministry, using her life experience to provide encouragement and to build up the vulnerable in our society.   

Feeling a scarcity of an Asian-related image repository to tell the story of Asians, Doreen founded PhotoAsia in 1992 and managed it for 22 years. Throughout the tenure, she used the images to produce posters and calendars for sale, the proceeds of which were donated to orphanages and a rehab centre for senior drug addicts.

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