“I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” -Psalm 119:75
“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” -Romans 2:4
In a Bible study that I’m currently leading, there is a young lady named Laura who recently came to faith in Christ following a motorcycle accident that caused her to need surgery and has significantly altered her life. She credits the accident with bringing her to God.
The Gospel of John chapter five tells of an invalid healed by Jesus. This man had lain for 38 years by the Pool of Bethesda, unable to benefit from the miracles regularly wrought there because he had no one to help him get to the pool at the right moment. Jesus healed him, despite it being the Sabbath, and then later found him in the temple and admonished him to “Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” (v. 14) When the Jewish leaders protested Jesus’ Sabbath “work” he responded (v. 17), “My Father is always at work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”
The concept of unpleasant, disagreeable, or even painful experiences leading to good outcomes is found throughout Scripture. The invalid of Bethesda, it is implied, caused his illness through his own sin. Yet the apparent evil of his illness was what brought him face to face with Jesus. Our friend Laura awoke to her need for a savior when she came up against her physical incapacity. God’s kindness sometimes takes on unexpected forms. In my own life, sickness, disappointment, heartache, have all sent me running to God.
Our God who is always at work, even when his face is obscured by our difficulties, wants us to know Him more than he wants us to be comfortable. The believer’s attitude toward hardship, rather than the self-pitying “Why me?” must grow into “Lord, even in this, I believe you’re at work. I don’t understand what you’re doing, but, by your Spirit’s help, I will patiently wait, and obediently submit to your purposes.”
Andy Bowen is a long time friend of the camp and serves as a missionary in Paraguay. Image credit: Painting by El Greco, public domain via Wikimedia.