…he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not afflict from his heart
or grieve the children of men.
Through all that they suffered, he suffered too.
I think it was Tozer who said,
I doubt whether God can bless a man greatly unless He has hurt him deeply.
The operative word in that quote being ‘greatly‘.
Oh, I hear the objections. God doesn’t hurt anyone, least of all His own. If it helps, I’ll insert the little word “allows” but I know there are still those who believe that little addition does nothing to fix such aberrant theology.
But it’s made all the difference for me.
I remember giving my testimony on a Christian television show years ago. I was interviewed by a precious lady who also did a morning show on an Atlanta radio station and she offered me the chance to give my story to a wider audience.
The studio had a couple of stages – one for musical guests and another for interviewees. In view of both stages was a long double-stacked bank of phones manned by volunteers who would take pledges from callers and report to the host.
My interview was divided by breaks of music and pledge announcements and the dear woman tossing me questions kept assuring me during those breaks I was doing fine, the viewing audience was being challenged and encouraged, that I behaved like a pro, etc, etc.
When my portion was over, she turned it over to the husband-wife music guests and quietly walked me off the stage to an area near the exit. As we exchanged final pleasantries, I was accosted by a woman with scrunched eyebrows and flaring nostrils. As she neared me, an index finger was already unholstered and wagging in my direction.
Her first words (I kid you not) were:
Young man, you are the WORST excuse for a Christian I’ve ever seen!”
My jaw dropped. The lady co-host who tended to me dropped her head like she knew what was coming.
Angry Lady stood over me in my wheelchair and launched,
…saying how that wheelchair is God’s will for you!”
SHAME ON YOU, YOUNG MAN!”
your God is NO GOD I KNOW…!”
And, finally, the classic,
The only reason you are in that chair is because you Do. Not. Have. The. Faith. To. Get. Out!”
I admit I was more than a tad intimidated by Angry Lady, and I stammered and staggered through a few choppily-laced replies. I finally said, “Ma’am, this my story and I live it every day whether or not you agree with it. I’m sorry I offended you, but this is what I believe and I’ll still believe it when I leave here tonight.”
Talk about not poking the bear; this only made her madder.
And she roared:
Well you’re W-R-O-N-G!
And I was wrong. I didn’t just believe it when I left the studio that night, I believe the same glorious stuff 33 years later. And I am marvelously at peace with it.
What is it I believed THEN, and STILL believe today?
God is more clearly seen in my weakness
Since it’s all about God, I am able to include my disability in the category of things that He uses to accomplish His will. Sorry, this is a non-negotiable truth with me…and it gives me peace to know even my anomalies and shortcomings matter on a Grand Scale.
Indeed, He doth make no mistakes.
His Grace that sustains me is healing too
I believe it’s true: my affliction (paralysis) is not the disease I struggle against but it’s becoming the CURE for my deeper diseases of pride and self-centeredness.
God is getting His glory from my story – and that makes it ALL worth it
The very definition of living vs. merely existing is to give yourself to a Greater Cause than yourself. Could there be any higher, nobler purpose than to offer yourself lock, stock and barrel to the Creator of all that reflects His eternal beauty? And let Him do the same with you?
Greater things are being prepared for me, so I can wait with joy
Sorry, Angry Lady. If we live for today as if this Age is supposed to neatly button up and solve all the ugly mysteries and uneven plots of life like a CSI episode, you’re mistaken. This Age is about redemption, the Age to Come is about ultimate glory.
And I’m sorry you can only see a wheelchair and a disabled man but I assure you, there’s more to the picture. You’re only seeing the base, indiscernible brush strokes of an early masterpiece-to-be. Oh, there’s so many more layers to come! So much more of the canvas to fill!
I trust the Artist.
He always finishes what He starts.
How can you be angry with that?