I've been listening to Joni Eareckson Tada's book "A place of healing" again which I highly recommend. She speaks of many people who pray for her to be healed and believe she should be healed if she only has enough faith. She tears through these conceptions using God's Word and examples of Jesus healing. For example, Jesus healed many people, but there were many more that he didn't heal. Those he did heal weren't guaranteed lifelong health They died later. What I value most from this reading is her candid revelation of her own suffering and how she deals with it spiritually. There's something about hearing another believer who also physically suffers that has more weight. It reminds me of what Paul shares via the Holy Spirit in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11. One thing she focuses on is God's promises and looking forward to her new body in heaven. She also reminds herself that without all she's been through, she couldn't have ministered to many people globally with practical needs and the Gospel. I know for myself, I felt my purpose was to share how God had revealed himself to me through this accident. I became much more fulfilled when I "delighted in the Lord" (Psalm 37:4) and replaced my will with his. It's hard to do this in the midst of the trial, particularly when you are physically suffering, but when you are given the opportunity to minister to others who are also suffering, you give God the Glory. Such is the case now with Joni and I. we experience much nerve pain from our broken spines and whatever other secondary condition occurs with it. Joni admitted having increased anxiety and fear with her increased pain and now, her new battle with cancer. I pray for her and her husband often and her ministry. It's another thing that becomes more urgent when you understand suffering. The term is compassion: to suffer with. Jesus has much compassion as he came to suffer with us. He also understood that God's will outweighs the need to be pain free (Matthew 26:39,42). Saving people from eternal damnation is more important than saving yourself from affliction. If you or others come to God after experiencing or witnessing suffering, than it is preferred. If I didn't have this accident, chances are, I still wouldn't be following Jesus. I thank God that he was merciful to save me from death and allow me to live for his Glory. I am his "living epistle" (2 Corinthians 3:3) and lead others to his living water.
VOM sent me the testimony of a Christian woman in North Korea and it was very humbling. She suffered much affliction physically and emotionally, more than I think I could endure even. But like myself, this woman is sure of how God has revealed himself to her and her purpose is to share the good news of Jesus who alone gives eternal life. Like Paul, she is firmly convinced of what God has for her through her faith (2 Timothy 1:12).
At first after reading Sister Yang's story, I was just heart broken and thought it was incredibly unfair for God to let this continue. But even Joseph understood that his tribulation through prison and slavery, allowed him to provide for his family in famine and multiply the children of Israel. It is seeking God and his word that gives me comfort through this fallen planet. Please pray for sister Yang and our brethren abroad who suffer greatly for their faith. We have it very good in this country that we can freely worship Jesus. Don't waste time not sharing his love and prayers with people, especially the body of Christ.