Thursday, February 22, 2007

I tried emailing this to all my people, but our system prevents it. I don't know why. So, maybe some of you will read it here on this blog. I'd be upset about it except that we had a Stress Management seminar at the office this morning, so I know to keep my cool by eating chocolate, getting a pedicure, watching "American Idol" and quoting various scriptures related to stress aloud ("I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," etc).

Well, maybe you had to be there.

I hope you're doing well, and wanted you to know Hannah and I are doing great. Work at WIM is steady, church is wonderful, and I am thoroughly enjoying the group I attend on Wednesday nights under Chuck and Mary Nell's leadership. Hannah mostly babysits the little ones (they're all under age 5) and last week was particularly entertaining because the host couple had just acquired two baby goats. The children trooped all over the house, toting bleating "kids" along with them and had fun feeding them bottles.

Well here's my Deep Thought for the day:

Monday night I went to Source (college group) and listened to a guest speaker, a missionary, based in Corpus Christi, Texas. He made an interesting statement:
it's not our apparent blessings which show God to people--they see God in the midst of our sufferings.

What a statement! I thought quickly in the 3-second-long pause that followed his announcement. When had people been drawn to God through ME? Without a doubt, it's always been when I've shared My Story of how God comforted us and brought us through the devastating loss of Chris and all the changes in our lives that accompanied it.

We've had several members in WIM recently deal with extreme hardship: a newlywed couple had their first baby, and the little girl has been diagnosed with Down's Syndrome; a mother in Asia has been diagnosed with Stage 3 bone cancer (they have 7 children), our office manager's daughter-in-law has cancer for the third time, our bookkeeper was diagnosed with diabetes...there are others, but you get the idea.

I wondered, why do these things happen? How does God get glory in all of this? What do Mexicans/Chinese/etc think when they see our people, people of God, suffering so?

The apostle Paul writes, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (II Corinthians 1:3,4)

He also wrote: "As you know it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Jesus Christ Himself." (Galatians 4:13)

So what I see is this:

God can and will use us anywhere, anytime, any WAY, to reach people who don't know Him yet. And if we are sick with cancer or hives or give birth to a child who is (seemingly) not perfect, then we cannot consider these things misfortunes or impossible or really, even bad! Because either "God causes ALL things to work together for GOOD for those who LOVE Him" or He DOESN'T. Which do we believe? As a Christian, I had to decide what I believed after my husband died for no apparent reason, after my aunt got sick from MS and died after years of my fervent prayers for her healing, after my grandmother was told her cancer had returned a third time and this time they couldn't operate.

You know what? It's been over a year and my grandmother who turns 90 in April has had no symptoms of cancer since she quit chemo December of 2005.

I don't have an answer for every person's situation, only God does. Do I always understand what's going on in MY life? No. Do I always understand WHY? No. And I don't bother trying, usually. But I DO know that MY suffering WILL show God to other people, just like it did that Monday night at Source, while I prayed with a 21-year-old girl whose daddy and granddaddy died within the last year.

BUT my heart has to be right; I have to be aware of God's presence in my life, AND His working in my life. That allows Him to shine through me.

God will use whatever it takes to show Himself to people. Do we let Him use us? Do we let Him us our illnesses? Our problems? Our faults and shortcomings?

I pray that we do, no matter what.


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