Living With Purpose
There’s hardly anything more motivating than to see a person take a physical challenge or limitation and maximize its positive effectiveness. There once was a man in the church where I pastored who had a condition that confined him to the use of a walker. He could only take small steps. After talking with him about his underlying medical condition, he said, “You know I don’t see my problem as a hindrance, I see it as a way to exercise my faith and witness.” “You’re a strong person and God will honor that kind of attitude,” I responded.
“I’m slow, but I get there, eventually. As my condition worsened I sought physical therapy. I surprised them by how much progress I made in a short period of time.” He let go of his walker and said, “Watch this!” Much to my surprise, he grabbed the back of the first church pew, took a step, then another, then another, and with a consistent effort made it all the way to the altar.”
“That’s fantastic!” I exclaimed.
He said, “Yep, I’m a winner. And let me tell you something else. A doctor who treats other patients with my condition was impressed with my will-power and asked if I would speak to one of her patients who was depressed and cast down. When I met the lady she was sad and perplexed. She didn’t know me, but I said I know what you’re going through. I’m in it now too, but look at me! I can drive, I’m enrolled in college, and doing the best I could hope for. After some more talk, she said I helped her and pulled her out of the depths of despair. It made me feel good that I could help somebody that’s suffering. That’s what we should do, help one another. We can all be on the winning side.”
As I age and continue to run for fitness and fun, I’ll have an occasional ache and pain. I’m tempted to lean toward self-pity because I’m slower than I used to be. But then, the Spirit reminds me of my friend, and my pity turns to praise. God blesses His children in different ways and we must be grateful for what abilities we do have—great or small. Without Christ we’re all doomed to a life of heartache with no hope beyond this earth. As Christians, we have no reason to be defeated within our spirit. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 says, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed. We’re perplexed, but not in despair. Persecuted, but not forsaken by God; cast down, but not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”
Christians are destined for Heaven and eternal joy. What we have to do on earth is survive as best we can until God gives us relief from our labor and calls us home. The Bible says, “We belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit frees us from the power of sin. Christ lives in us and despite trouble, threat of death, and all of life’s sorrows, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loves us” (Romans 8).
If you’re a Christian, you maybe “troubled—but you’re not destroyed.” Christians have troubles, but they have One to whom they can go and depend upon. We need not be distressed. God can and will replace our worry and strain with His peace and rest.
If you’re a Christian, you may be “perplexed—but you’re not in despair”. It seems one problem follows on the heels of other problems. You’re not alone; millions of people are frustrated, confused, and perplexed. While multitudes of people are losing hope and giving into drugs and drinks, your hope is still in God (Psalm 42:11). He never fails and the best is yet to come.
If you’re a Christian, you may be “persecuted—but you’re not deserted.” Persecution has been around for centuries and can come in the form of abusive treatment, silence, neglect, lies, and more subtle ways. This is the time to trust God, who will never leave you and says you’re more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37).
If you’re a Christian, you may be “cast down—but you’re not destroyed.” A dedicated and disciplined Christian must be willing to suffer “for Jesus’ sake”, knowing that “if we suffer, we shall also reign with him” (2 Tim. 2:12). If you’re cast down, look up to God in hope and remember faithfulness to God brings victory both now and eternally.
Take your troubles, look at your challenges, and see what they can teach you. Then find someone who needs to hear from you. If you’re saved, you’re on the winning side and it’s your duty to help make more winners. When you do, you’re making a difference in someone’s eternity. Now that’s Kingdom Building and that’s the sweetest victory of all.
• This bi-weekly column is written by Matthew Dobson. He’s a teacher, U.S. Army Chaplain, and the Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in the New York Community. His “Living With Purpose” Book series can be found and purchased on www. Amazon.com. You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.