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Joyful, Patient, Faithful

Did I ever tell you about the time my late husband fell, and it made things better?

I love sandwiches! I have fond memories of sandwiches. Grilled cheese and tomato soup on cold days. Peanut Butter and Jelly for the lake. Deli meats and cheeses on hoagies after one of the kid’s games, lunch meat out of the ice chest on sour dough at the beach. Warm tomatoes from the garden on white bread with mayo in the summer. Avocado and onion sandwiches…the list goes on.

There is a Subway Sandwich shop in north Grants Pass and I drive by it every morning on my way to work. For some reason this morning, I began thinking about an incident at the Subway in Sutherlin, Oregon.

Every trip for years I have stopped at the Subway in Sutherlin for a quick pitstop and sandwich. (By the way, did you know you cannot simply buy the bread? I know cause I asked. I love bread and I just wanted the bread. The answer was “I’m sorry, we don’t sell just the bread.” (WHY NOT?) I think next time I am craving bread I will order a whole vegetarian on French bread; hold the veggies; hold the cheese; hold the spreads; hold everything. ;0) )

Anyway, on this particular trip Wendell was near the end of his life. He was weak and often a bit unsteady on his feet. I pulled up and things went well. We walked in and ordered our food. After we returned to the car, Wendell decided he should use the restroom before we continued our trip. He did not lift his foot high enough, it caught the edge of the curb and down he went, stumbling hard, headfirst into the glass door.

Other than the grace of God I don’t know how that door did not shatter, but his hands and knees were cut up, scratched and bloody. I ran back into Subway, and they gave me some first aid supplies and soon we were on our way.

It would not be until a few days later that he would say, “Remember that fall the other day at Subway?” I answered, “yes.” He said, “It fixed my back.” I looked at him in shock. “What?!” “Ya, it fixed my back. I didn’t want to say anything that day ‘cause I didn’t want to jinx it, but I have had no pain for days.”

Absolutely amazing how God used that fall to make Wendell feel better, at least for a while. And yes, I am giving God the glory and the credit.

“in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV

I went to church with a man several years ago who was hit by a car as he was walking across an intersection. As he was telling his story he said, “You know as I was laying there on the pavement, I thought of the verse in the Bible that says give thank for all things, so I said: “Lord thank you. I’ve never been hit by a car.”

It made me giggle, but he was sincere. He was joyful, even in his affliction.

Does God use pain for His glory? Odd question, I know. But I believe He does.

Romans 12:12 says, “rejoicing in hope, patient (or persevering) in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;” NKJV

I believe He can be glorified through our pain in ways that nothing else can. We can bless others through our pain in ways that nothing else would.

I love Romans 12:12, and I found this break-down of the verse written by Natalie Regoli.

#1 “Be joyful…” Joy is part of our birthright at God’s children. Those who have taken the light burden and easy yoke of Christ (Matt 11:30) will be able to feel joyful even in the most difficult of trials. Consider the child whose family is in great difficulty, but who has a kind and gentle father in the home. She will not remember the hardship of growing up, only the joy she had in the presence of her father. Christians are called to live in such a way as children of God. To cultivate faith is to cultivate joy.

#2 “…in hope,” Isaiah 40:31 says, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” It is not good to hope in just anything. In Nazi concentration camps, it was those who hoped who failed to hold up when hopes died. If they said, “Surely we’ll be home by the new year,” they were unable to bear it when the new year came and went and they were still there in bondage. But those who hope in God and his promises will have an unlimited supply of hope and have their strength renewed.

#3 “patient in affliction,” “In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). Christians should not be surprised when they are afflicted. The New Testament authors and Jesus himself never shied away from admitting the fact. Times of affliction are the best opportunities to learn the patience that is the fruit of the Spirit and of abiding in Christ. We will be tested in the “furnace of affliction” for our refinement and conformity into the image of Christ (Isa 48:10). We are blessed if we patiently endure it.

#4 “faithful in prayer.” God is faithful to us. His nature never changes. His promises never fail. His call to us is to walk in faithfulness towards him and to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes 5:17). Those who seek to be faithful to him who is faithful to us will live out this faithfulness in prayer. Prayer is our great calling and privilege as we are allowed to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb 4:18). If we are faithful in prayer, we will find the patience to endure, and the joy promised in Christ.

If you can only remember one promise from the Bible, remember this: we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NKJV …even our pain.

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