It all happened in just one day. On one seemingly normal November day God moved the following people and situations into my life:
- A young mother who was preparing to leave for her now-needed, life-saving treatments necessitating more medical bills, more time away from her darling children, and a future which often times looks uncertain.
- A middle-aged friend whose life was shaken to the core when without warning her best friend and love of her life was suddenly gone.
- A young man who was given an incredibly difficult physical road to travel. And in a society which almost always judges by first impressions and physical attributes, he has undoubtedly paid a hefty price throughout his life.
- And an 18 year old paraplegic who looked over at me at a college basketball game and said, “About once a year I have a week where I just really really REALLY wish I could walk and this week was it.” The look on her face and the pain in her voice would have broken the heart of any human being with a pulse. But it particularly broke the heart of her mother because her mother would do anything moral to see her daughter walk again.
One person I’ve known almost my whole adult life. One person, the Lord allowed me to be her earthly life giver. One person I recently just met. And one person, though I don’t see him often, has had a huge impact on my life from the moment I met him.
Each of these four people, all of them struggling with heavy, heavy burdens. I cried with the oldest one and was rock solid for the youngest one. I reached out in love as best I could to the one I hardly know and cheered my loudest multiple times for the fourth.
Had I been my pre-wreck self, the day filled with hurting people would have discouraged and depressed me. But as my post-wreck self, I was filled with hope and encouragement. You see, if you simply saw any of these four people on the street and observed them for even a remotely short period of time, you would never know of their pain, you would never know of their sorrow, and if you spent time with them, you would come away having been encouraged by them instead of the reverse.
It’s no coincidence I was reading the book of Hebrews that week. I woke up the next morning and as I dug into Hebrews I was amazed at how almost every thought and word reminded me of the people I’d lived life with the prior day. And in Hebrews 11 the following words brought me to a stand still … “their weakness was turned to strength.”
Their weakness was turned to strength. Oh sure, the Bible was referring to Gideon and Samson, as well as David and Samuel, but my mind was on four other warriors in the Lord.
I was thinking of the young man with the obvious physical disabilities who stood at a microphone as the crowd cheered and cheered for him. He gave God all the credit and glory as he exemplified the words from Hebrews, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
Let me tell you, nobody is encouraging an entire community more than that young man!
I thought of the tearful conversation I had with a friend who is stronger than I will ever be and I thought about how in her quiet gracious way she is truly living out the words in Chapter 10 verse 22 which remind us to “draw near to God.”
Oh Dear Reader, she will be the first to tell you, she doesn’t know what she would do if she didn’t have her faith in the Lord.
I think about the young mother, so positive and strong in the face of such uncertainty and I realize right before my eyes I am watching her live out the following: “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.”
The beaming smile and confidence she brings to others cannot be underestimated.
Which brings me to the beautiful 18 year old who must spend the majority of her day seated in a wheelchair. She comes from a line of strong strong women whose faith in the Lord has been tested in some incredibly difficult situations for the last five generations. And I think about her earthly heritage, not to mention the example of her Savior, when I read the following: “But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”
Thank God she and those before her chose to never shrink back!
Four people. Four difficult situations. Four lives no one would wish upon another human being. Four people. Four difficult situations. Four lives who daily make the choice to live for a kingdom which cannot be shaken. Four lives who choose to be thankful. Four lives who choose to worship God.
Whatever you are facing this Thanksgiving season, Dear Reader, I hope you too are encouraged by the way our Truly Awesome God uses our weaknesses and turns them into strengths. Look around! These examples are everywhere we look, if we really choose to see. And the question begs to be asked: Will each of us choose to let our weakness be turned to strength? Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! Happy Thanksgiving!
Until next Wednesday, Lord willing.