My friend, Gail Wolfe, passed along these words by Ken Wiggers who contracted malaria while serving as a missionary in Papua New Guinea and later had lymphoma (see more of his story at the end of this post). He says, “I’m reluctant to inform folks of physical health problems because that seems to become the primary focus of so many prayers I hear. We’re much more inclined to pray for physical issues/healing than for spiritual needs and issues. So, were you to ask me how to pray, my answer would be, that through this experience, no matter what the outcome, my attitude would clearly reflect my confidence that ‘God is in charge’ and that He’s accomplishing His purpose in my life. And in that, I and those around me can rest in His grace and peace.”’
His words resonated in me because as I’ve struggled with sciatic pain, I’ve wrestled with wanting to keep my thoughts focused on seeking the Lord. Yet most of the time, I’m compelled to only want relief from pain. I know that’s natural and believe me, I want God’s healing. I’m so grateful for everyone’s prayers. God is answering. But I also don’t want this challenge wasted. God wants to use everything in our lives for our growth and good.
As I’ve meditated on Psalm 27 for several days now, I see this truth. The Psalmist David is in the midst of deep trouble, with enemies threatening him. Yet, he writes, “One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock. (NIV vs. 4-5).
Then he writes, “My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.
I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD. (vs 8, 13-14).
David wanted only one thing: seeking and knowing God’s face. He didn’t beg for relief or deliverance. (Although it is true that in other Psalms he begged for relief and deliverance). He believed trouble was unavoidable, but he didn’t ask for relief but to know God more. He knew it would require patience, waiting on the Lord, and he was confident God would indeed work only for his good “in the land of the living.”
That is the kind of passion I long for. Ken wants people to pray for him, that “my attitude would clearly reflect my confidence that ‘God is in charge’ and that He’s accomplishing His purpose in my life.”
Would you pray that for me also? My overarching desire is to seek and know God more. And in particular, right now, to trust God enough to be patient and have self control in not trying too quickly to sit in my desk chair! In my fear that I won’t ever sit again, I tried to force it and set myself back three days ago because of my impatience. You can’t hurry God. I must still have lots to learn on bed rest.
AND the rest of the story from Ken who wrote me:
“You are more than welcome to use the quote Gail sent on to you. Let me add that some lessons in life are not quickly learned. It wasn’t just malaria and lymphoma.
While in aviation training for missions I had surgery removing part of a lung. Later for about 10 years I struggled with back spasms blamed on that previous surgery. The ultimate result was surgery to remove a spinal cord tumor about the size of a thumb in my upper back. We also had a special needs daughter who who caused us to take a 5 year leave of absence from missions. She died at age 11 (mentally about age 2) in Papua New Guinea from hepatitis with pneumonia complications .
I could tell you more but that is enough to let you know that after awhile you begin to realize that God REALLY is in control, not yourself, not the doctors, or… My wife, Pat, had the opportunity to tell her eye doctor that very thing when several weeks after glaucoma correction surgery she developed an infection, the retina completely detached, and ultimately the eye was removed to stop the super-sensitivity to light.
The best lessons in life come during the tough times. Rom 5:3; Jam 5:2-4”