It was 1999 and God had gripped my heart and called me to go live in West Africa. In obedience I bought a one-way ticket to Africa! It was one of the most exciting and scariest times of my life. I was sure that God was going to move powerfully in this dark Islamic Country. This country had 16 unreached people groups and was a nation resistant to the gospel.
Confidently, I believed that as I stepped off the plane that I would take atmosphere for His kingdom! I really believed that mosques could be shut down and that revival would fall. I imagine the passage in Revelations 7:9 that says, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…”
Just a few weeks upon arrival my zeal, passion and courage seem to get smashed as I got deathly ill. I remember Christmas morning waking up dry heaving over what they called a toilet… Dehydrated and fighting a high fever—I remember thinking, “Jesus, did you really bring me all this way to let me die on Christmas Day!” I felt my life was just a waste! The one real ministry attempt I had attempted at the local church plant I was serving- I passed out at the pulpit from my sickness. I had done nothing in my few weeks significant for God’s Kingdom and now I felt useless!
What I didn’t know was how this moment would forever change the way that I would move forward in my Christian walk. I would learn dependance on God in a way that I never could have expected and I would be forever changed. For several weeks I fought intense sickness. Finally I got word to my home church in the states and they were able to get me medicines from the USA. I believe now that I had contacted Typhoid.
When I got the meds and began to get my strength back, I began meeting with church members. I’ll never forget what they said to me. “Peggy, we were very afraid! We thought you might die and we didn’t know what we would do with a dead American?!” Then they said, “Now that your better when are you leaving?” I looked at them shocked? “Leaving?” I said, “ I’m NOT leaving! NO WAY! I want to get to work!” Surprised and excited they then responded, “We can’t believe you want to stay after being so sick! But now we know you are real. We want to learn from you. Through your suffering we see that Christ is really in you and God has sent you to us” What? In my sickness I made more of an impact then I could have ever done if I had been well?
I learned during that time that Christ gets most glory in our weakness. In our darkest moments when we doubt, God is always working in the backdrop! He never wastes our suffering. In fact, we are made credible in our storms, struggles, doubts, pain, sickness, and loss! Now every Christmas I remember. I remember to look back and be reminded of His faithfulness. —His kindness to me in my pride, my self sufficiency, my strength. I’m reminded He uses my weakness for His glory more than any strength I bring to the table. I’m reminded that the cross I bear today is for His glory tomorrow!
How about you? When was the last time you looked back and “remembered” His faithfulness to come though, to rescue, to allow pain, so He could shine His healing for others to see and know Him? I don’t know what your facing this holiday season, but maybe it’s time to look back and “remember” the beautiful triumphs of how Christ has shined brightest in your pain, so you can move forward in confidence of His unchanging Grace! He IS and always will be FAITHFUL!