Yesterday, I wrote about some of the “physical” blessings God has given me through my disability. It’s always right that we acknowledge God for the material blessings He richly gives. “Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim 4:4). Yet, far greater than our material blessings are the spiritual blessings God has given us. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:3). In Christ, we have ever possible spiritual blessing God can give.
God has, I firmly believe, given me great spiritual blessings during my disability. I want to share with you what some of them are.
- A Firmer FaithMy parents, through their teaching and example, instilled in me and my brothers a strong faith, and, as I spent time in the Word (Rom 10:17), my faith grew. However, nothing has strengthened my faith more than my dystonia. I have had nowhere else to turn but to God; I have had no greater comforter than He; I have seen no greater faithfulness than His.The same thing happened with the Apostle Paul: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Cor 1:8-9). Did you catch it? Paul’s travel companions faced great adversity, greater adversity than they could bear, and they even wanted to die – yet, all of that was to lead them to rely on the God who raises the dead! Hallelujah! Our Savior raises the dead, and we can rely on Him during difficult times.
- Greater EmpathyI’m able to understand, in some limited way, the suffering of others. Someone parks in a handicap spot without a placard? I’m going to give a little extra grace than I once did, for I’ve done the same thing without realizing it. Someone’s walking a little slowly in front of me? I do the same thing all the time.The same thing happened with the Apostle Paul: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor 1:3-4). The comfort Paul received helped him comfort others.
- People in My CornerI’ve had marvelous friends who have stood by me in my difficult walk (pun intended). Brethren have been cheerleaders. Brethren have called. Brethren have helped. I had no idea how many true friends God had given me until my dystonia flared up.The Apostle Paul wasn’t so fortunate: “At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me” (2 Tim 4:16). I am far more blessed than was he.
- GenerosityI have seen over and over how generous the people of God are. I have received checks in the mail from people I do not know or people I barely know. My brother-in-law has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help bridge the financial gap between now and the time my disability kicks in. I’m seeing kindness and generosity over and over and over.The Macedonians were a generous group: “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us” (2 Cor 8:1-5). I’ve been blessed with people like those from Macedonia.
- Being FedI like to eat, and I’ve enjoyed some food here and there from brethren directly because of my disability. Yet, in the last several months, I’ve been blessed to sit and hear brothers proclaim the Word. Whether at Dale Ridge or Star City, I’ve been able to sit and hear brothers preach the Word. That Word has helped me grow and that Word has increased my faith.“Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17). I’m thankful for faithful brethren who love the Lord and are able to be faithful proclaimers of his Gospel.
God has given me so very much in my disability. I’ve listed the first five, and I’ll write some more next week about God’s faithfulness and His goodness. Are you going through a trial? Make a gratitude list and see all that God has done in your life and be thankful. Until Monday, be blessed.