For anyone whose life is hidden in Christ, everything that happens to them has a purpose. Yes, in Christ everything has a purpose. That was the title I finally decided upon for this post. You see it has been a very challenging and "purposeful" month.
April always has great meaning to me because of Easter. And every year I am reminded of the incredible love Jesus displayed when He died on the cross to offer me a chance at redemption. When I quiet my heart and mind and really allow myself to think about what He did, I am filled with a kaleidoscope of emotions. Gratefulness being one of the most pronounced.
But this year God wanted my Easter to stand out from the rest. This year He sent me a special message.
The last day of March I was returning home from a long day at work and was only three blocks away when someone hit me from behind. It was not a pleasant experience and within that same hour I began feeling aches and pains in my back and my neck.
The other driver apologized repeatedly and I could see that they were honestly upset about hitting my vehicle. I knew that I could be harsh because the accident could only happen by a very careless driver. And the driver admitted that they were not paying attention.
But instead of being angry and justifying any harsh words, I felt compassion. I forgave and comforted the other driver. We did eventually exchange information and a policeman, who happened to be driving our way, pulled over and helped get everything down in writing.
During the following weeks I wrestled with car insurance companies, juggled doctor and physical therapy appointments, and had tests. Around the same time I had been given the opportunity to join a short-term mission team to New York City. Our purpose would be to aid a young church in their outreach to the community via a massive easter egg hunt. It would take place on Easter weekend and our goal would be to share the Easter story with as many children as possible. I was excited at the prospect and wondered if I could go.
That Sunday I arrived to church late and found a seat in the back of the auditorium. When the service ended the stranger beside me turned and introduced himself. He was a visitor to my church. After a time he shared with me that the Holy Spirit had urged him to visit my church that morning because he was to encourage and pray for someone who would arrive late and sit beside him.
That someone was me. I shared with him my heart for missions and my desire to serve the Lord where ever He might lead. And eventually I shared about the car accident. The stranger prayed over me, asking God to grant me strength, courage, and healing. He told me that I might receive bad news and be confronted with my health getting worse. But he told me not to worry about a negative diagnosis and shared with me an experience he had with his health and how God was healing him even though modern medicine said it wasn't possible.
And then he shared verses with me that spoke of God's power to heal. I cried. We both cried. I was so deeply encouraged and amazed by how God works. I never saw the stranger again but before we parted ways he told me that I had been an encouragement to him and that I shouldn't be afraid to go wherever God leads. I had to believe that I would be healed.
Later that week I had an x-ray that showed something wasn't right in my neck. It was unclear whether-or-not it was something serious so my doctor ordered an MRI. I underwent the MRI and remembered the message God sent to me in church. I decided to join the mission team and go to New York on faith. The weekend was beautiful. The weather and travel and company were wonderful. We participated in the outreach ministry with joyful hearts and impacted well over 300 children in under four hours! That Sunday we participated in the Lord's Supper (communion) and through all the business my health was strong.
The day after I returned, my doctor shared with me the results of the MRI. The trauma from the accident was not serious and I should make a full recovery. But the test revealed something none of us expected, something that apparently had already been developing. Osteoarthritis. It is in my spine. This diagnosis is not often found in people younger than 40 so we were puzzled and a bit disheartened. How could this be happening to me? And what could be the cause?
The osteoarthritis is in the early stages so there is still time to minimize the damage and possibly prevent it from spreading. Currently modern medicine believes that osteoarthritis is incurable and degenerative. The diagnosis I have been given is that I will get worse. Exactly how worse and how quickly is unknown. And yet I have hope that God will stop its development and grant me the wisdom I need to know what to do next. I believe He can heal me from this disease but if He does not it isn't because He can't do it.
I realize that I never would have known I have this disease had I never undergone the MRI test. And I never would have undergone the MRI test had I not been given an x-ray. And I never would have had the x-ray if a driver had not hit me while I was returning home from work.
God works in mysterious ways and sometimes He allows us to go through trials because He knows that's what is best for us. My plan is to continue with the summer institute in June and do my best to maintain my health. Beyond these things I know my life is not in my own hands. None of us can really know what tomorrow may bring. But if we are close to God, if we trust Him, then we don't have to worry about what could happen.
God is faithful and He is sovereign. Everything in the life of a Christian has a purpose.
" But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
to those who fear Him,
and His righteousness to children's children,
to those who keep His covenant and remember to do His commandments."
~ Psalm 103:17-18