How can I live with a physical “defect”?

Building trust in your Designer

4 min

Birthmarks, disabilities, perceived blemishes, “defects,” or abnormalities cause us to ask searching questions. Why would a loving, all-powerful Creator God allow imperfections to exist?

Remember that the world is marred by man’s rebellion against God. The earth we live in bears the consequences of sin in the form of sickness, death, and other hardships. Yet, in the face of these harsh realities, God mercifully works to redeem painful circumstances. What appears to be intended for evil, God can use for good. (See Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28.)

Lasting happiness and fulfillment rest in God, in being satisfied in Him, and in surrendering ourselves to Him. Pain and suffering can be tools in God’s hand to draw us to Himself. (See II Corinthians 4:16–5:1.) As you turn to Him, He is able to use these things to make Himself known to you and to others. 

Bringing your specific situation to God in prayer, discerning His will, and gaining His perspective are vitally important. Faith is not “twisting God’s arm” to do what we think is best. Faith discerns and visualizes what God intends to do and then acts according to His direction. Pray and act in harmony with the discernment God gives you.

Sometimes a defect cannot be removed or resolved. In those situations, remember that God works through unchangeables to motivate us to depend upon Him. The Apostle Paul spoke of a “thorn in the flesh” that God allowed in his life in order to demonstrate the sufficiency of God’s grace. In response to Paul’s prayers for deliverance from that thorn in his flesh, God answered, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9).

In response, Paul concluded, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (II Corinthians 12:9–10).

Listed below are some ways you can make wise choices in response to a physical defect or disability:

Focus on God, not on yourself.

God is able to use the circumstances of your life to demonstrate His redeeming power and great love. Seek Him in your circumstances. Whatever God uses to help you experience His greatness will become a blessing, because experiencing God is worth more than anything. Life is not about our comfort. Life is about us gaining more of God and God gaining more of us! (See Philippians 3:7–11.)

Whatever God uses to help you experience His greatness will become a blessing, because experiencing God is worth more than anything. 

Learn to walk before God and others in humility.

A defect can be a reminder of your need for God. This understanding can motivate you to walk in humility, which puts you in a position to receive God’s grace. (See James 4:6.) As stated above, when the Apostle Paul struggled with a “thorn in the flesh,” he learned that God’s grace was sufficient for his weaknesses. (See II Corinthians 12:9.)

Rely on God’s approval rather than man’s approval.

Some people might judge or reject you because of a defect, but God’s approval is not based on outward appearances. He looks on the inward character of the heart. (See I Samuel 16:7.) When you receive God’s gift of salvation, you are accepted by God through Jesus Christ. You can rest in God’s approval—your joy and confidence will not depend on others’ opinions of you.

Daily acknowledge the fact that your body belongs to God.

Any birthmark, scar, or defect can take on value when you see it as a mark of God’s ownership. (See I Corinthians 6:19–20.) Let them be reminders that you belong to Him and receive them as motivations to develop Godly character qualities, such as faith and humility. You are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

Rejoice in your perfect condition in Christ.

As a Christian, when God looks at you, He sees the perfection of Christ rather than your imperfections. (See Ephesians 1:3–7.) When your life on earth has ended, He will give you a new body that is whole and complete without any imperfections. (See I Corinthians 15:42–49.)

Change the things that can be changed.

Sometimes we can take steps to resolve an issue that is causing frustration in our lives or that is distracting to others. For example, if your hair is naturally “hard to manage,” invest the time and care needed to maintain a neat, attractive appearance. If you have a physical condition that requires treatment, seek the help you need. You may not be able to change a physical defect, but positive changes in your attitudes, grooming, personal appearance, and countenance (smile!) can make a big difference in how others respond to you.

Be an example of sensitivity and kindness.

Most people have some physical, mental, emotional, or family defect. If you have experienced rejection from others and learned to accept God’s design for yourself, you should be highly motivated to be gentle and kind to others—especially those with obvious defects. (See Ephesians 4:32.)

Define your role in the family of God.

God has given you a spiritual gift for the benefit of other Christians. (See Romans 12:3–21.) As you develop and exercise your spiritual gift, your physical defect can actually serve as a guide as you minister to others. Your spiritual gift can bring purpose and meaning to a defect when you discover why God allowed it in your life.

Trust God to work all things together for good.

“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:28–29).

Let us believe God’s Word, seek Him wholeheartedly, and rejoice in His design. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:11–14).

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