No one expected him to succeed. He was made fun of in school because of a horrible stuttering problem. His older brother and sister were brilliant; most often he felt like a shadow child rather than a sibling. Though extremely talented, the young shadow boy struggled to speak even one sentence clearly, causing him to question the value or purpose of his life.
Early into his freshman year of high school, the school’s drama teacher, Mr. Richard Niemi, asked him to meet after school. He was sure Mr. Niemi needed help building a set or copying scripts. To his surprise, Mr. Niemi didn’t see the young man as a stuttering shadow but a gifted orator. In the meeting, Mr. Niemi told the young student that if he was willing to meet through the school years and summers the student would have the lead part in the senior play.
The curtains opened three and a half years later, and there stood my father, Chuck Swindoll, who earned the play’s leading part. Yes, Chuck Swindoll, who once believed he was only a stuttering shadow boy, is used by God to speak truth and hope to people all over the world.
Today, perhaps you are believing your life has little value, you’re an unnoticeable shadow or disabled and lonely, or are raising a child this world finds odd or weird. I am here to remind you that that is not the truth. God can use even the most challenging circumstances for good. My own son’s disabilities have given me the gifts of refinement, authenticity, humility, and grace. From him, I have gifts to offer you . . . encouragement, hope, reminders of truth, reflections of mercy, and a relationship with Jesus Christ—should you choose to accept God’s Son who came to this world as a gift to you. Let’s thank our heavenly Father that none of us is alone; people everywhere are struggling with disabilities. And God is cultivating in each person magnificent gifts we can share with one another in this world.
Colleen Swindoll Thompson holds a bachelor of arts degree in Communication from Trinity International University as well as minors in psychology and education. Colleen serves as the director of Reframing Ministries at Insight for Living Ministries. From the personal challenges of raising a child with disabilities (her son Jonathan), Colleen offers help, hope, and a good dose of humor through speaking, writing, and counseling those affected by disability. Colleen and her husband, Toban, have five children and reside in Frisco, Texas.
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