As a Christian, I believe God can use difficult times for His good. In my own life, I have seen God work and move in significant ways that can only be a testament to His faithfulness. I have known about Jesus since I was a little boy, but I didn’t truly know him until April 1977. When I arrived at Ohio State University to pursue my doctorate, I had pretty much convinced myself I could do whatever I set my mind to do. But halfway through the four-year study, God began to show me only He was sufficient to meet my needs. Serious personal problems came into my life at that time. I had my eyes set on being an eye doctor, but I was a wreck on the inside. At this critical time in my life, God drew me to a Testament given to me by a Gideon. This precious Testament planted the seeds that brought me to Christ.
Soon after surrendering to Jesus Christ, I met the love of my life at a Bible study. By God’s grace, Lynette and I were married not long after and began our professional careers. Hardship and tough days would follow these exciting times. We lost our first child a day after he was born. We were devastated. We were sad, hurt, and feeling a number of other emotions. I had to go to the Word of God for answers.
Those difficult times taught me truths that still ring true today. I find much of what God showed me in that season of life to be applicable today amid a worldwide pandemic.
God, are you really in control?
First, I had to wrestle with this question: God, are you really in control? Isaiah 46:9-10 (ESV) says, “Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’” One of the age-old questions many people struggle with is: Why does God cause or allow difficult times to come into our lives? One reason God causes or allows things to happen is to bring us to the end of ourselves and to the feet of Jesus. Romans 8:28 (ESV) reminds us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
One reason God causes or allows things to happen is to bring us to the end of ourselves and to the feet of the Jesus.
Therefore, we have a decision to make when we face trials and difficult circumstances—do we run towards God or away from God? Have you grown closer to Jesus this year? Have you experienced His presence in your life? Our actions, and the decisions we make, show what we truly believe about God. I pray you would run directly towards the heart of our Heavenly Father.
Back to our roots
This year’s pandemic has also significantly impacted churches and ministries, including The Gideons International. Ministry activities have looked different for us this year, and I have seen this Association directed back to our roots. From our earliest beginnings, we have been a ministry that holds Christian business and professional men accountable in their walk with Christ and, as a result, strengthens their Christian witness. I have also seen God use these days to increase our efforts in personal witnessing during a time when Scripture distribution looks different. In all this, we thank God that He delights in using ordinary men and women for His glory. We have no other option than to point it all back to Christ and to give Him credit. What a blessing!
Faith is stronger than fear
The question then becomes, what will we do? Fear is our natural response when things go sideways, and we don’t know what the future will hold. Yet, faith is stronger than fear. Paul reminded the believers in 2 Corinthians 5:7 (ESV), “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” However, this does not mean we don’t lean into the advice of people and resources God places in our path, such as skilled medical professionals. As believers, we must carry out the mission but do so with wisdom. We must not be foolish in our actions.
I was recently reminded of Jesus’ words in John 9:4 (KJV). The passage reads, “I [Jesus] must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” As Christ followers, we must work while it is still day. There are people in our sphere of influence who need Jesus, and now is a great time to share our faith. Such people need to hear the most remarkable story ever told that can change their life.
“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”
—John 9:4 (KJV)
Not too long ago, I was speaking on behalf of The Gideons International. My prayer was for God to use the Testaments purchased from the gifts given so others can experience the real joy available in Christ. I prayed the people encountering the Word of God would understand His immeasurable love for us and that He sent His only Son to die for our sins. This is the true message of Christmas.
What does the future hold? I’m not sure, but what I do know is God is sovereign, there is good work to be done, and faith is stronger than fear. May God’s richest blessings be yours in the days ahead. We pray you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.