GOD WILL HONOR YOUR CHOICE
The operation was over. She had a tube in her nose and down into her stomach. Another tube was attached to the abdominal area. Another one led to a bottle suspended above her head and off to one side. Her operation made mine look like no operation! Yet she seemed to be enveloped in a cocoon of peace. The doctors, nurses, her roommate, and her visitors all noticed it and marveled. Her successful recovery was a serene, peaceful scene in the presence of excruciating pain.
What a contrast to my miserable, unhappy, complaining, self-centered response to the first two days after a minor operation. If you prefer my kind of response, God will honor your choice. On the other hand, He will give you peace and joy if you let Him.
How does God do it? He doesn’t explain. But by a step of faith, Eva found that she could have peace and joy in her heart when her body was afflicted with seemingly unbearable pain.
When I was a young engineer and struggling to understand what the Christian life was all about, I fell in love with this Bible verse:
“I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
2 Timothy 1:12, NKJV
In my wife’s hospital room, thirty-five years later, we knew that we could trust biblical principles. In this crisis, we were not two desperate people thumbing through an unfamiliar book to learn about a strange God. Rather, we were two people reviewing Bible verses and reaching out to a familiar Friend we had tried to follow for thirty-five years.
Billy Graham said it very well:
Mt. Everest was never climbed in a day. Those who attempt to climb its treacherous slopes spend months, even years, in training and practice. Each small mountain conquered prepares one for a higher mountain and a tough climb ahead.
So, too, the best preparation for tough times are the little difficulties and how we react to them. . . . you and I are called upon to learn what it means to trust God in every circumstance, and to live for Him no matter what comes our way.
We must think more clearly about suffering and rearrange our priorities so that when Armageddon comes, we will not be taken by surprise or be unprepared. Like Joseph storing up grain for the years of famine that lay ahead, may we store up the truths of God’s Word in our hearts as much as possible, so we are prepared for whatever suffering we are called upon to endure.
As an army officer once said, “Weather in war is always favorable if you know how to use it.”²
Many of us find life hard and full of pain. We cannot avoid these things; but we should not allow our harsh experiences to deaden our sensibilities and make us stoical or sour. The true problem of living is to keep our hearts sweet and gentle in the hardest conditions and experience.³
I am sure that the loving Lord scheduled my operation just before my wife’s so that I could appreciate and understand the pain that she experienced.
I also learned that my natural tendency in an unfamiliar traumatic situation was to look for peace after the end of the difficult circumstances, rather than obtain peace from God in the middle of the circumstances. When my wife and I focused on the Lord before and after her surgery, we both found that there was a world of difference in the peace in our hearts.
Based on my own personal experience, I recommend that everyone seek God before any operation or crisis. Take time alone or together and write down the Bible verses you feel apply to your situation. Don’t make my mistake! Quickly invite the Lord into every crisis.