There are moments in life that are burned into our memories. They may be great moments like a wedding day, graduation, or the birth of a child. Or they may be moments you wish you could delete from your mind—the death of a loved one, job loss, or divorce.
Several years ago, on a cool summer evening my daughter had a traumatic moment that she, nor her family, will ever forget. We all rode our bikes to a nearby park where we decided to spend time playing on the playground. An evening of perfect joy came to an abrupt halt when Zoe’s hands slipped off the monkey bars. She had almost made it to the end when her grip gave way. As she fell, she threw her arms out to brake her fall. When she hit the ground, the impact was too great for her little bones to withstand. She bones in her arm completely snapped, just above the wrist. The was no question as to whether the bones were broken—it was gruesome.
In the book of 2 Samuel we find a character that would become known as Mephibosheth. He too had a moment when everything changed for him. Mephibosheth and my daughter were almost identical in age when these traumatic events happened to them. And like my daughter, he fell and broke a few bones. Unfortunately for Mephibosheth, he didn’t have the advantage of modern medicine to help him. The result of his accident left him permanently disabled.
Let’s back up for a moment to get an understanding of who this young boy is. I mentioned his name would become known as Mephibosheth. This, however, was not his given name. His father was named Jonathan. And his grandfather was King Saul, the first King of Israel. I can imagine how proud Saul must have been when Jonathan named his son Mirab Baal. Mirab Baal was a strong name that meant “opponent of Baal.” Baal was the most worshiped false God of their time. By naming his son Mirab Baal, Jonathan was declaring that his son was destined to be an example of steadfast faith in the one true God.
His story begins in 2 Samuel 4:4, “…He [Mirab Baal] was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel.”
This news was the beginning of a very bad day for little Mirab Baal—a day that would change everything for him. The news stated that his grandfather, King Saul, and his father, Jonathan, were both killed in battle.
Widespread panic began to spread through the palace. Everyone feared that David would be coming to kill them all. It was widely known that David had been anointed to become the next king of Israel. And typically, when the blood lines of a kingship changed the new king would kill everyone in previous king’s bloodline along with their servants.
The story continues in the same verse, “His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled. His name was Mephibosheth.”
Little five-year-old Mirab Baal stood in a state of confusion as everyone around him begins to panic. A nurse that worked with his family noticed him standing there and, meaning well, grabbed him to run off. In the mad dash for safety, little Mirab Baal slips from her hands and falls awkwardly breaking both legs.
His fall left him with a permanent physical disability. If this wasn’t enough, his name was changed to Mephibosheth which means “son of shame.” In a moment, everything changed for this little five-year-old boy. He was left both an orphan and disabled.
You are not alone if a moment changed everything for you. Maybe it was a moment when an accident left you or a loved one disabled. Or maybe it was the moment when your child was born and the doctor told you they had a disability. The feelings of despair and shame that you’ve had to navigate were also experienced by Mephibosheth. We’ll explore more of this in the next post of this series.
Ryan Wolfe has served in disability ministry for many years. Proverbs 31:8a, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,” has become Ryan’s calling. He strives to be an advocate and champion for people with disabilities and their families. Connect with Ryan by following him on Twitter (@ryanewolfe).