What makes a life worth living?

This week my brother, Nathaniel, turned 28 years old. As you may know, he is an adult with disabilities. And shortly before he was born, professionals recommended my parents abort the pregnancy. Because of their faith-based convictions, my parents chose to give him a chance at life.

There was no guarantee that he would live even a year. They said he would never eat, laugh, or smile. And even though those things turned out to be false (he’s the happiest person I know), it hasn’t been easy to care for him. And depending on your definition of a “quality life”, you may not think he has one.

Does your definition of a quality life depend on one’s usefulness to the world? Does it require the freedom to experience all life has to offer such as travel, hobbies, and success? For those of us in the church, does a quality life mean being able to serve, evangelize, disciple, and lead? I must admit Nathaniel doesn’t can’t do any of those things. If we’re honest, we would be heartbroken to lose all we take for granted and live a life like Nathaniel.

But here’s what Nathaniel can do:

Belly laugh at the silly things

Show love & intimacy through hugs and cuddles

Respond with joy to the presence of a loved one

Enjoy a certified banger of a song

Yes, he won’t ever fall in love, lead an organization, or have his name written in a history book. But he’s famous in Heaven. Not because of his service or dedication to the Church, but because of God’s love that flows in & through Him. Our Heavenly Father cherishes Nathaniel.

There’s no easy answer to why Nathaniel was born the way he was. The simplest way I understand it is that we live in a fallen world which God is currently redeeming. Through his healing miracles, Jesus gave us a glimpse of the way things will be one day:

“The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”

And while he can’t serve God’s Kingdom in a traditional sense, he has made an impact with his life. My parents, myself, and everyone who’s taken care of him has been made more like Jesus because of Nathaniel. God has a habit of taking what we see as tragedies and using them for good.

I’m thankful for Nathaniel’s life. And I’m looking forward to experience the days to come here on Earth and in the life to come.