How do you see your problems and trials in life? Are they a crutch or a springboard? Do you see them as opportunities to rise above and boast about the Lord?
Wednesday, I said goodbye to a precious friend of mine of 22 years. I had the privilege of leading Kim to the Lord when she was 16 years old so I knew she was with Jesus. As I listened to others talk about her, those who lived near her, I became more and more impressed with the mighty woman of God she was. She may have only lived 39 years, but at the end, I am confident the Lord greeted her at heaven’s gate saying “Well done good and faithful servant.” [Matthew 25:21] and took her into His arms.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, Paul talks about how the Lord allowed Satan to give him a thorn of the flesh to keep him from boasting. Kim’s thorn of the flesh was cancer. While she fought hard for two years to overcome the disease, she never complained or pitied herself. She took it in stride and continued to live boldly for the Lord allowing her weakness to spotlight her strength in Christ Jesus [vs. 9].
Every time I talked with Kim and would ask her how she was doing, she’d give the quick rundown of her situation in medical terms, almost as if she was talking about the weather, and then she would quickly ask about my family or tell me something funny one of her children had done. Her focus was never on her illness. Her focus was on others and the Lord. She truly understood what the Lord called the two greatest commandments and she lived them out during her time on this earth [Matthew 22:36-40].
Kim never would have chosen to have cancer and she never blamed God or thought He gave her cancer; however, she took what the world saw as a problem and turned it into an opportunity to share Jesus and glorify His name. When people would ask her about her battle with cancer, she would take the focus off of herself and put it on Jesus and His all sufficient strength to carry her through [2 Corinthians 12:9].
As I watched her family walk through this difficult time, I saw a quiet strength that held them strong. I know Kim talked with them about life after she was gone and she encouraged them and told them God would give them strength to carry them through. I witnessed the legacy she left behind. And now, as I walk through the rest of my days on this earth, I know there is someone very precious to me who is among the cloud of great witnesses cheering me on [Hebrews 12:1].
When you are faced with trials and troubles, how will you respond? Will you use them as an excuse to pull back and allow others to do the job of sharing Jesus or will you embrace them as your opportunity to proclaim His love, His goodness and His all sufficient grace?