When Trials Come
Life turns every person upside down. We’d be foolish to think we are invulnerable. However, as I reflect on the last six or seven weeks, I must admit that I was not well prepared for my surgery and the time of healing that followed. The surgery had to be done in two steps. This was the first disappointment! Initially I saw my kidney stones and the damage they had done to my kidneys as a result of aging and part and parcel of our sin fallen state. But over time it became more personal then that! After all, God is in control over all things, also over every function of my body. When our body works well we feel blessed, when it fails, we struggle and feel/ less’ blessed.
Recently I read the book YOU’LL GET THROUGH THIS by Max Lucado. One chapter is entitled “Is God Good When Life Isn’t?” Lucado used the story of Joseph pointing out that many things went against him at first. His brothers sold him into slavery and his life took many strange twists after that. Yet Joseph did not appear to be bitter! I have often wondered why some people become disillusioned, even bitter in the midst of hardships, while others remain optimistic, even cheerful!
I vividly remember an example of this from my youth. When my father was in the hospital undergoing surgery for a blood circulation problem in his legs, he had a roommate named Wally. I noticed that Wally had no legs or arms, just little stumps remained. Several weeks after leaving the hospital Dad suggested I go with him to pay Wally a visit at his home. I will never forget that visit! Even though Wally had no arms or legs, he moved around his place as agile as a monkey (pardon the expression) and served us tea and sandwiches. It was amazing to watch him ‘swing’ from counter, to chair, to table not spilling a thing! And all the while he chatted cheerfully about life! How was this possible? (I did notice a Crucifix on his living room wall). Finally I worked up enough courage to ask him how he had lost his arms and legs. He explained that he was a diabetic and the disease had gotten out of control. Now, years later, I wonder why Dad wanted me to come with him on that visit. Did he want to teach me something? At that time he had no idea that one day I would be a diabetic. Was God preparing me for something down the road? One thing I know for sure, in good times it’s easy to take God’s love, God’s care for granted. While I was laid up the past few weeks, I had to do some soul searching. Did I need to be humbled? Possibly . Did I need to learn to trust Jesus more deeply? Definitely . Even now I would like to set a line as to how far the Lord might go in the trials he would send my way. Could I be as cheerful as Wally were I to experience the loss of my limbs?
Scripture has a way of putting life in proper prospective. In 2 Corinthians 4:17 the Apostle Paul writes, “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all!” Can you honestly say that and live accordingly? I have pondered deeply as to what the Lord might be teaching me during my time of convalescence. Personally, I was eager to get back to the work of ministry. Maybe ministry is more than just preaching, teaching and visiting. Our trial becomes our testimony. God comes alongside us, (often through other people) when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for them. (2 Cor. 1:4) God is at work in each of us, whether we know it or not, whether we want it or not. Mind you, He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing road blocks in our way! (Lam. 3:33) Every challenge, large or small can equip you/me for another ministry opportunity! When trials come, God is shaping us to minister more effectively. Believe it!