And the angel said unto them, "Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings
of great joy, which shall be to all people."
Last week, I looked at the story of Cole, who damaged his spine in a diving accident. He subsequently became a quadriplegic and in spite of all of that, has been able to accomplish so much over the past ten years.
This week I want to go back to that story. You see, we can use his story to talk about being thankful in spite of and even for negative circumstances. He has been thankful for what has happened to him because of all the wonderful experiences he has been able to have. But I look at his life and it reminds me of the reality that God is the God of the impossible. I am pretty sure there were many times when neither he nor his family knew if he was going to make it, especially during the initial stages of his injury. He mentioned that there was one time that he asked for his brother to come and he couldn’t speak so he spelled out for him the words, “KILL ME.” His brother of course wouldn’t do it it and walked away.
I am sure there are times in our lives when we feel as messed up as Cole did. It probably wasn’t physically but emotionally, mentally. We were uncertain about our future, about whether or not we would even make it through the season that we were in and that some of us still are in. There may even have been times when we just wanted to end it, just like he did because we could see no hope, no future, no way out. But God...
I go back to the story of Job. Job probably didn’t and couldn’t see an end to his situation. It was as messed up and as tragic as it could get ... and he wasn’t even at fault! He lost everything, his children, his possessions, his wealth and his health was compromised and in exchange he received shame, disgrace, hurt and pain unimaginable. Think of the shame, the ridicule, the condemnation he must have faced, and we see it in the behavior of his friends who came to visit him, yet, he chose to honor his God. Even when his wife told him to curse God and die, he rebuked her and chose instead to bless God.
When we go through, sometimes we face exactly the same thing. People question what we did wrong because it always seems as if it must have been something we did wrong. Even we may question ourselves wondering what we did wrong. But, life isn’t always about being at fault when negative situations come our way. Sometimes, life just happens and even bad things happen to good people.
Either way, God is the God of the impossible and we will all face impossible situations in our lives. Even when we want to give up we don’t have that final say, God does. I think God just wants to remind us that He didn’t equip us to be able to handle everything, or else we would never need Him. Our imperfection or rather our human limitation allows God to prove who He really is. If we could handle it on our own, we would not need Him!
In my own life there have been many times when I have wanted to give up because the situation seemed so impossible. But I remember very clearly that God just would not let me give up! He used different ways to encourage me to keep going. As I focused on the impossibility of the situation, God really wanted me to focus on His “possibility,” His ability to handle what I could not and did not even want to handle. I had to learn to fix my eyes on Him. Recently, I have been hearing Him telling me to look at Him. He knows that if I keep looking at the stormy conditions around me, I would be so discouraged I would give up. So, when it becomes impossible and too much for me to bear, I would hear His firm but loving voice commanding me to look at Him and this brings me comfort and strength.
I believe Cole is living his best life now. If he had not gone through what he did, his life would have been good, I’m sure, but it would not have been able to compare to how blessed, how fruitful his life is now. Of course he has bad days, we all do, but he is choosing to truly LIVE in spite of it all. In Christ we too have this privilege. It’s not always about living life our way but God’s way. Trusting Him means that even in the bad times we know that He will bring something good out of it. As I love to say, "God doesn’t waste a thing," and, in the end, even the bad things can turn out to be our greatest blessing!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as Lord and Savior, please do so now. You can be certain that God is well able to do in your life what is impossible for you to accomplish.
On August 11th, 2011, a 16-year-old young man, Cole, dove into a river where he was hanging out with friends, and hit his head on a rock. He damaged his spine and became a quadriplegic. At that point, his life seemed very uncertain, nobody knew what was going to happen or what to expect. Fast forward 10 years later and here I am watching a video that his wife put together in honor of his 10-year journey.
I had been following his videos for a brief period, so I was aware of some of his challenges and successes. However, as I watched this video I was truly moved, I was moved and encouraged to see how far he has come. During his ten-year journey, he met his wife, seven years after the accident. She was helping him with therapy and their relationship blossomed until they finally decided to get married about six months ago. I look at this young man’s life and I see the goodness of God.
At the start of the video his wife put together, one of the people honoring him mentioned that he had stated that he was thankful that the accident had happened because he never would have had all the wonderful experiences he has had thus far. He has accomplished things that he probably never would have accomplished had he not had this accident. To date, he has graduated from college, participated in a number of sporting activities, coached a basketball team for the handicapped, travelled to various places, gone hiking with his wife because that is what she loves, learned to drive, of course got a girlfriend who became his wife when he thought that that would never happen, they have their own home and he works. I have simply put a few accomplishments in a nutshell but believe me he has done a lot!
And on top of all of that, he chooses to be positive and has had speaking engagements where he and his wife have encouraged people in the area of positivity and inclusivity. When you look at his life you realize that life is really what we choose to make of it. But when I look at his life I see the goodness of God, the power of God, the awesomeness of God. I see a God who has been faithful to bring him through this tough situation and make him the success that he is. He is nothing without God!
As I mentioned earlier, he had said that he was thankful that the accident had happened because he realizes that so much good has come out of it. He reminds me of my own attitude over the years. God has brought me to the point where I have learned to be thankful not just in spite of but for bad things that have happened. I have seen God bring good out of those bad situations. Today as I remembered certain experiences, I found myself thankful again because those experiences taught me forgiveness and forgiving others has been one of the most liberating experiences of my life. Those experiences have helped highlight things in my life I needed to work on that I may never have worked on otherwise. You see, God is so good and so loving that He uses everything, the good and the bad, to bring the best out of us. He uses painful experiences to help us accomplish things that we never would have accomplished otherwise, even to reach and inspire people that we never would have been able to had we not been through that painful time. I love to say nothing is wasted by God because my experiences have taught me this. In the Bible, Job lost everything and instead of receiving comfort and encouragement, he was put down and blamed for what had happened to him. Yet, as tough as it was for him, if he had not gone through what he did, he never would have experienced God’s phenomenal goodness to him at the end of his trial. It was as if he had lost nothing because he received double the blessings!
None of us like pain or trials but these are a part of life and in fact, these are what God uses to mold, shape and even teach us to just be thankful. It’s easy to be thankful when everything is going our way, but when we’re thankful in the midst of tough times, I think this brings the greater blessings. When we can praise and worship God in tough times, we’re setting ouselves up for blessings and opportunities that we never saw coming. When God’s Word says, “In everything give thanks...” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) God knows why. When we are thankful in everything, it develops our character, it improves our attitude, in short, it changes our life.
If you have not yet accepted Jesus Christ into your life as Lord and Savior, please do so now. When you have God on your side, no matter what you go through, He is able to take it and do something beautiful with it. After all, with God, NOTHING IS WASTED!
Interestingly, while looking through my Bible to get the settings for this week’s post, my eyes fell on a verse that caught my attention and prompted me to change what I was planning to write about this week.
I was looking at the family history of Jacob. Jacob, one of Isaac’s twin sons, had managed to secure the blessing of the firstborn son through deception. Being the younger of the twins, his brother, Esau, was supposed to receive that blessing. However, with their mother’s help, he was blessed instead and Esau vowed to kill him. Jacob escaped to his mother’s family and there met the woman of his dreams, Rachel. After working for his uncle for seven years to receive Rachel as his wife, he was tricked into marrying the eldest daughter, Leah instead. When he complained, he was also given Rachel only after agreeing to work for seven more years.
Here’s the interesting thing. It was not their fault things happened the way they did. They could not change it but had to learn to live with it as best they could. I imagine Leah felt uncomfortable to be thrown into this situation. It was clear to everyone who Jacob really loved and she must have felt alone many times, isolated and rejected. He probably would have done his duty to her as her husband, but she knew how he really felt.
At times, we too find ourselves in situations where we know we are not preferred, we know we are not the chosen one, we know that we are just there taking up space. We would all like to feel and be appreciated, accepted, loved, even preferred but some situations in our life do not always work out like that.
But, this is the verse that caught my attention as I flipped through the pages of my Bible trying to get my story together: “When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved...” (Genesis 29:31). When no one else saw or cared, God saw, God noticed, and He cared...
Sometimes, it feels as if we are alone, as if we are invisible. We may go through life battling as best we can, striving as best we can, and yet ... smiling all the way. Leah must have gone through her daily routine as best she could all the while seeing and knowing that her husband preferred her sister over her. She knew she wasn’t good enough, special enough, pretty enough. But that was her opinion. God saw her and even though she was pushed into a marriage her husband did not want, God had a plan.
That line, “When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved...” is a powerful one. It sets the stage telling us that something is about to happen. God saw and God was getting ready to make a move. Even when we think that no one else is seeing, God is seeing and getting ready to act on our behalf.
God did not choose to make her husband love her, instead he chose to open her womb and bless her with children while her sister was barren. Now let’s get something clear, God did not hate Rachel, but He did have a plan for Leah. As Leah produced child after child she kept hoping her husband would love her but that did not happen. Finally, she shifted her eyes to the One who truly loved her, God Himself, and named her fourth son, Judah, which means “praise.” God, the lover of her soul, was able to do much more than her husband could do for her. He favored her by blessing her with children so that she did not face additional shame in the community because of barrenness. And that’s not all. He positioned her, the unloved wife, to be in Jesus’ bloodline because that same child, Judah, was the bloodline through which Jesus, the Messiah, was born.
God always has a bigger plan for our pain, for our loneliness, for whatever challenge we may be facing. Even in our darkest places, even in our challenging times, God sees, and God is setting Himself up to act on our behalf. Our prayers may seem to be falling on deaf ears, our tears may seem invisible but that is just our perception. It may seem to be taking a long time for Him to respond but He will. Even our period of waiting is part of His plan because there are things He is working in us while we wait.
So, remember God sees and is concerned about EVERY detail of your life. Nothing with Him goes unnoticed and He even has a plan for those ugly areas in your life. Like I love to say, nothing with God is wasted. He will truly work all things together for our good.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as Lord and Savior, please take the opportunity to do so now. Believe it or not, even those hidden, unpleasant things, God sees and He has a perfectly beautiful plan for them.
A few weeks ago someone shared a testimony on one of the WhatsApp chats that I am on. After she finished sharing I understood why she felt the need to share because it was truly a testimony of God’s faithfulness to His children.
The young lady in question had to complete an assignment that was past due. When she finally decided to complete it she was feeling a bit tired and decided to get some sleep. Her intention was to sleep for a couple hours, get up and push herself to complete the assignment. However, she overslept, and was so tired that when her alarm went off, in her sleepy state, she simply took it off and went back to sleep. When she awoke it was time for early morning prayer with her husband so she decided to go ahead with that. After that it was time for prayer with another group and although she was tempted to skip that she decided to be a part of that as well. Finally, she had the free time to complete the assignment. However, she felt the Holy Spirit tell her to go back to bed and she decided to obey. While in bed, she started to ask God why she was in bed because she needed to work on this overdue assignment. However, she chose to obey God and finally dosed off. A little while later, she and her husband were awakened by a loud crash. When they went to investigate they discovered that their gypsum ceiling had fallen and crashed onto the table where she was supposed to be doing her assignment. She immediately began to thank God because she realized that had she been sitting there doing that assignment, she may not have even heard the ceiling coming down until it was too late. God had literally saved her life!
At the start of her testimony, I remember her saying that she had told God that she wanted to not just know His voice when He speaks but to be obedient to it. Well, she certainly got the opportunity and she was so thankful to God that she had chosen to obey His voice.
I am reminded of a story in the Bible of a man of God who did the opposite of what this young lady did and sadly suffered the consequences. As the Lord directed him, he left Judah and went to Bethel. After doing what God had sent him there to do he left to return home. However, the Lord had told him that he was not to go to anyone’s house to eat bread or drink water while there and he was not to return home using the same route he had used to get there. On two occasions he was invited to someone’s home for a meal. First, king Jeroboam invited him but he refused and gave his reason why. Then, an old prophet invited him and he refused reciting the same reason. When the old prophet told him that he too was a prophet and that the Lord through an angel had told him that he should bring him to his home to eat bread and drink water, the prophet believed him and went with him. While at his home, however, the old prophet told him that because he had disobeyed the word of the Lord he would die and would not be buried in the tomb of his fathers. On his way back home, a lion attacked and killed him and the old prophet buried him in his own tomb (1 Kings 13:1-30). Sadly, although he had heard God's voice, he allowed another voice to cause him to disobey God's word to him.
God speaks to us in different ways. His Word says that as His sheep, we hear His voice. As I mentioned last week, God speaks to me in a variety of ways. Sometimes, He speaks through a song, or a movie, or a dream, or even a sermon. And sometimes I can clearly discern that still small voice giving me direction or encouragement when I need it. Whenever He tells me “you’re going to be okay” I feel that confidence and assurance that it will be as He has said. This has not happened overnight and my “ears” are still being developed in this area but God does speak and maybe sometimes like my friend who shared her testimony we just have to trust that voice, that stirring in our spirit which is a sign that God is speaking. I think sometimes, it’s not that we don’t hear His voice, because His Word says that we do, but it’s more a question maybe of hearing something we don’t want to hear but that we need to hear. And when other voices threaten to drown out His voice, it can be so easy to listen to what we want to hear instead of what we need to hear.
God is very much interested in making us happy and whatever He says to us will always be for our good. So, I encourage you today to not just get to know God’s voice but to obey it because you never know what He could be protecting you from, you never know the greater blessings He has in store for you through your obedience.
If you have not yet asked Jesus Christ to come into your life I encourage you to do so now. We all need guidance and direction especially in difficult times and He will always lead and guide you the right way, even the best way.
This blog provides inspirational nuggets inspired by the Word of God and serves to encourage and motivate Christians in their Christian walk.