14 December 2016
So today it’s been a year since the start of the most intense physical battle for my health I have ever been in.
A year in the greater scheme of life may not seem like a lot, but when you have to live with something for 365 days night and day, a year can feel like a really long time.
What started out as a swimming injury that should have taken a few weeks to heal has turned into a whole year of immense pain, mystery and at times doubt as to whether I have what it takes to walk through this.
Looking back over this year I’ve been admitted to hospital twice including spending a night in the intensive care unit. There have also been three separate visits to the emergency room. I’ve had two brief stays in the resuscitation ward, wondering if they were to be the days I would meet Jesus face to face. I’ve attended many appointments with my G P, had countless blood tests, scans, Neurosurgeon’s appointments, 3 months of Physiotherapy, a pain clinic consultation and had endless days wandering what on earth could be wrong with me. During this time there have been a few promising leads but as of yet, no conclusive diagnosis as to what has been going on with me physically. Some days I have felt fine and wondered what all the fuss has been about and yet there have been other days where I haven’t been able to move, dress or even bath myself.
So needless to say it’s been a tough year. After 365 days of what has felt like the most intense battle, I find myself tired, humbled and at times disappointed. Yet at the same time, I find myself grateful, thankful and optimistic. I’m grateful to God, grateful to my wife, family and friends who have stood so close to me and supported me during the last year. Whilst we haven’t seen the fullness of what we have been trusting God for we have seen some amazing things and God has been so faithful.
I don’t have all the answers, but I have learnt a few things.
I’m learning to see what God is doing and to not focus on what I think He is not doing.
Towards the end of last year, I had some of the worst months my business had ever seen. This left us in an uncomfortable financial position as we needed to spend savings just to keep us afloat. Then with what seemed like the perfect storm, I found myself sick, injured, unable to work and without any money. Our son was also just 3 months old when I became ill, so my wife was not able to go out and get work either. Not, being able to work the whole year would normally be incredibly stressful. But God has been so kind to us and provision has always come through and on time. Through the kindness, selflessness and generosity of friends and family, we have not been without the entire time. The faithfulness and the provision of the Lord have been so comforting, we have had enough going on in our lives, and God taking care of all our needs has made life so much better. We recognise and acknowledge the goodness of the Lord in this area. I may not have yet seen the fullness of my healing that I have been trusting God for but I’m so thankful for His provision. Just thinking how much tougher this year could have been had God not provided makes me so thankful for what God is doing. Thank you, Jesus.
Don’t take snapshots of life.
We can’t take a snapshot of our lives as the litmus test to determine the goodness of God. Nowhere in the Bible do I see that we are called to live by what we feel or see at the time. Rather we see in Scripture that we are called to live by faith (see Romans 1:17, Galatians 3;11, Hebrews 10:38). Faith according to Hebrews 11:1 is being sure of the things we hope for and certain of the things that we don’t see. So not everything we are believing God for will be instantly seen. We may need to stand for a while until we see the thing that we are standing in faith and hope for. Perhaps we are going to need to be a little like faithful Abraham, who continued to hope against all hope until he saw the promises of God fulfilled in His life (see Romans 4:18). For Abraham, it took a total of 25 years to see the fulfilment of what God promised him to come to pass. So us struggling for a year or two is nothing in comparison to what some men and woman of the Bible had to go through. Now I’m not belittling any kind of a struggle because walking through struggles is hard but we need to keep stuff in perspective.
Hope is vital
Hope is so important, because if we don’t have hope then we can’t be standing in faith. Faith is the evidence of things hoped for. So what we put our hope in is what we have faith for. I’ve seen it first hand that having hope is critical for walking through the fires of life.
Look at proverbs 13:12 ESV “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life”.
We are also told in Proverbs 4:23 NIV “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” In other words, we need to keep our hopes up and guard our hearts. When the Bible is talking about our hearts it is not talking about the physical organ of the heart but rather our souls and spirits. Keeping our hopes up nourishes our souls and spirits and produces life in our lives.
So we need to keep our hopes up at all costs and always expect the best (which believe me is not that easy to do, but it’s important). I don’t think Bible hope is just a hope that everything will be okay though, it is so much deeper than that. Biblical hope is about being confident that God will do what He said in His word. If “By the Stripes of Jesus I have been Healed” ( see Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24), then I can set my hope that He will honour His word in my life. I can have an expectation that God’s word will produce a harvest in my life and that He watches over His word and is faithful to perform it (see Jeremiah 1:12). Just like the 3 Hebrew lads in the fiery furnace (see Daniel 3), we can be confident that the Lord can step into the fires of our lives and keep us from all harm. Biblical hope is being like the apostle Paul, being so focussed on what the Lord had called us to do, that no beating, shipwreck or even a bite from a poisonous snake could keep us from our destiny.
We were born for a purpose
I believe that you and I were born for a purpose and have a destiny. We may not understand everything, we may not even like everything but we have got to make up our minds that we trust God and that He is able to perform what He said in His word ( Jeremiah 1:12).
As I write this blog post, in two days I go for the results of a recent bone scan I had. I’m a little nervous, a little apprehensive and even a little scared. This is real life and more than that it is my life. But I’m also increasingly hopeful. Hopeful that the one who started a good work in me is able to complete it (see Philippians 1:6). Confident that no matter what the outcome of any tests, my God is good and His is able.
Personally, I believe that my time here on earth is nowhere near finished and I am trusting God for His miraculous intervention and deliverance from all forms of sickness. I’m believing God for long life until I’m satisfied (see Psalm 91:16).
The one thing this year has taught me
One thing that this last year has taught me is this. We only get one shot at this life here on earth. It is not a practice run and we better make sure we are building towards the right thing. For me, that means fulfilling what God has put me on this earth to do. I’m tired of living a boring mediocre existence. I want all that God has for me. I WANT IT ALL! I want all of His goodness, I want to see the captives set free, the blind receive their sight and the dead raised (see Matthew 11:5). I want to see the power and Glory of the Lord in my life, not just in the past, not just in the present but for many years into the future.
We were all made for the Glory of God and God has prepared good works in advance for us to do (see Ephesians 2:10). Let’s not be so distracted and preoccupied with our own plans that we never get to fulfil God’s plans and purposes. Eventually, for each and every one of us, our time will be up and we will have to give an account to the Lord for what we have done (see 2 Corinthians 2:10). For me and I’m sure for you, I would like to hear those words “Well done good and faithful servant” for the way I stewarded my life here on this earth.
I encourage you to make your life count. Do what you feel the Lord has called you to do. Love people passionately. Live generously and don’t take life or people for granted.
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