Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! Philippians 4:1
Ryan Mazza is a profoundly disabled man who lives in a care center. He was born with Crouzon’s syndrome and has endured countless setbacks which have left him blind, mentally handicapped, paralyzed, and unable to feed himself. But he can hear. He loves the sound of his father’s voice – especially when his dad reads to him from the Bible. In fact, his father used to work as senior American executive for the Suzuki Motor Company located near Ryan’s care center – many times the nurse would call Doug Mazza out of a meeting: “We are having trouble getting Ryan to eat his lunch… would you please come over? He’ll respond to you!” No matter if it was a top management meeting or a marketing presentation, Doug was out-the-door to go help his son. To this day, Doug reflects, “No one has impacted me more for Christ than Ryan.” This young man inspires not only Doug, but thousands who hear his story.
Does this make Ryan nothing more than an audio-visual aid in the hands of a utilitarian God who only uses him for inspiring others? Are Ryan’s severe hardships merely “object lessons” from which we can learn? What does Ryan stand to gain? Plenty! What others gain from observing Ryan’s sweet attitude gets credited to his eternal account (Philippians 1:25).
Almighty God notices when Ryan’s life encourages others – if they profit, Ryan gains. If his dad is rewarded, Ryan reaps. Ryan’s “joy and crown” are people who are blessed by his example. Think of the crowns being reserved for Ryan Mazza! By the way, his father left Suzuki years ago… N. Douglas Mazza serves as our President at the Joni and Friends International Disability Center. And, yes, Ryan keeps leading the way.
Lord Jesus, I need this perspective in my life. I pray for all the “Ryans” who are persevering through pain – thank you for the rewards they’ll receive in heaven for inspiring people like me.