In the last series of posts I wrote, one person commented about a distinction between God using our negative circumstances and God causing them. The latter was hard for them to embrace. I originally planned to respond to the comment in my post the following week in May 2015, and then, life took a serious change.
As I approached the end of May, I started feeling ill while at our regional conference. Suddenly, I was in the back of an ambulance with possible heart problems. Thankfully, that was not the problem, but I was diagnosed with pneumonia and excessive medication for blood pressure. There were still many tests ahead, but the initial news was good. Those tests would turn out to be a confirmation of good health.
Two weeks after my trip to the emergency room, my wife woke me with a bad cough, feeling like she had bronchitis. We went to the emergency room, where I dropped her off and parked the car. When I came inside, she was already in a room with five people working on her. It turned out she was in a-fib, in serious condition. After some extensive treatment, the situation was fixed, but the lab work revealed problems with her kidneys. This led to a kidney biopsy and other tests. While there was no kidney disease, there was some significant damage.
We breathed a sigh of relief, only to discover that she had a growth on her tongue. We made what we thought would be a quick trip to the doctor, and many appointments and test later, we discovered that she had stage 3 oral cancer on her tongue. This led to the removal of one-half of her tongue and major reconstruction. We are still in a lengthy recovery process at this time.
It was a wile six months, and we are just beginning to recover from it. The question in the comment raised all those months ago is appropriately relevant. Does God cause bad things to help us grow? My answer, is, “No.” While it is possible that God would allow some things into our lives in order to challenge us, the bad things we experience are not from God! At the same time, I can see numerous ways in which God used our adversities to help us to grow.
Our faith grew as we watched God bring us through each challenge. Out trust grew as we watched God’s provision helped us face each step. Our community grew as hundreds of people joined in prayer with us for healing and provision. There are countless testimonies we continue to share, and we both know that we are stronger as a result of our journey. I would never ask for it, nor would I wish it on anyone, but we cannot deny the good that came from adversity.
Without listing every blessing, allow me to express it this way. Last year started with a major car accident that totaled our vehicle. The result was a much better and dependable vehicle, which was a tremendous blessing as we faced these challenges. My trip to the ER made me take a hard look at my life, priorities, and lifestyle. Many necessary changes came from this reflection. My wife’s heart issues revealed the kidney problems which would not have been discovered until they became much worse, and without our knowledge of her heart and kidney issues, her cancer surgery could have turned out quite badly. In addition, there are already other people who have found strength and direction through our story.
Did God cause our difficulties? No. Did God use them for good? Absolutely!
When we face adversity, it is important to remember that God really can make all things work together for good. Our adversities can drive us closer to him, and can cause us to look deeply at our lives. God doesn’t cause bad things, but God does make beautiful things out of our brokenness.
As we begin 2017, may our faith be strong as we trust God to bring us through and to make us stronger in the process.