I live my life now in the knowledge and joy that comes from the truth of Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God work together for good to those who love God, who have been called according to his purpose.” But that is not where I began.
When my daughter Angela was born with a cleft lip and pallet I did not believe in God or His way of salvation. I had been baptized when I was twelve, but I had never learned or truly accepted in my heart, His plan of salvation.
As I held my baby girl in my arms, with a modified feeding device pushed to the back of her throat, I began to break. With each subsequent surgery, my wife and I became more divided in how we should care for our child. Our mental anguish grew, as only my wife could summon enough love to care for Angela. By the time Angela was three, we had lost our bond with each other and I had become derelict to my parenting obligations, I had become void of any compassion and care for my wife Jacquie or our precious jewel, Angela.
If it were not for the love of Angela’s grandmother Barb, who helped Jacquie during this time of crushing rejection, I believe Jacquie and Angela would have both perished. With our relationship nearly broken, despair had overtaken us. By the time we moved into an apartment complex in California we were confused and lost, not sure of which way to turn. The long extended stays with grandma were coming to an end for Angela, and the harsh realities of being integrated into a prejudicial world of the physically perfect and beautiful began.
With no love left in our marriage and no resources to get away from one another, Jacquie dove deep into her soul and found a voice of love that came from God. In her times of devotion with Him, she cried out for help. God sent us Wayne and Debbie who led us into the truth of who the Lord Jesus Christ is and his plan to save us from sin and death. Within months of this couple’s love and grace for us, we discovered hope in the Gospel of Christ and were reborn.
We have often rejoiced since those days and glorified God for sending Wayne and Debbie to us, but today I celebrate the joy of God’s having sent Angela to us. It was through her physical and emotional weakness that God began to work in us the good that was to come many years later. Her complete and utter dependence on us brought us to the point of helplessness and despair. What else could we have done but cry out to God to save us?
We did not experience an overnight transformation. It would be years before the love of Christ would work in us a heart of charity, compassion and grace. But the truth in Romans 8:28 would become an anchor for our faith. These words have been a key to helping us develop a complete trust and faith in Him. We live by the assurance that God’s plan for us has been at work for our good, and that we are called to His divine purpose.
Several days ago, my wife’s mother Barb, began to feel extremely weak. At the clinic there were some gifted medical people who ran extensive tests, but there was not a physician to make a final determination of the results. All of the staff who attended Barb agreed that there was the possibility of a blood clot in one of the vessels in her lungs. Barb sensed that they were correct in their analysis, but was too weak to go to an emergency room. She came home instead. My wife kept a vigil with Barb all night, praying for her and enlisting the prayer of others from our church. In those prayers too, was the continuing prayer that Barb’s faith would be increased. She had always been a follower of Jesus, but she kept her distance from church and the fellowship of other believers.
The next morning, we took Barb to the emergency care hospital where doctors took four vials of blood, did three EKG’s, injected dye into her veins and did several x-rays. No clot was found. In fact it was obvious that our prayers were answered and Barb’s strength, after a short period of rest, was completely restored.
Through this experience Barb’s confidence in God’s love for her has increased dramatically. She has, through this experience of illness, duress, prayer and deliverance, acquired a new assurance that God is still working through her as a minister to her family and to the body of Christ.
Today, as I pray, minister and live for the sake of others, according to God’s plan, I have renewed assurance, “that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” [Romans 8:28 NIV]