I want to introduce you to an unbelievable work of God’s grace. Her name is Hannah. I met her at our orientation to Action Missions International this fall. She was a candidate to join ACTION and plans to go to Brazil as a missionary. She has already spent several months there.
When you see Hannah you are tempted to think there is no way this precious life can make it on the mission field. Her jaw is squared and locked. She cannot move her jaw. He mouth is constantly open and she talks without the aid of her lips, shaping her words with tongue and teeth. It is a challenge to understand what she says, but she has no problem communicating. She radiates the glory of God.
All of us were asked to give a fifteen-minute testimony. Her testimony blew us away and had us laughing and crying at the same time. When she was born the doctors said she could not live. Then they said she would not live past ten years old. Standing before us at the age of 22 she said, “Here I am.” They said she would never talk. There she was talking. They also said she would never walk. Now get this: She runs half-marathons!!!
If you are still not impressed maybe this will seal the deal. At our first meal together I glanced over at her. She was not eating like the rest of us. She took out an IV of some sort and attached it to a window hook. Then she took the tube and raised her blouse and attached it to an opening in her stomach. She also has a trachea device that serves some purpose of which I am not aware. Are you getting the picture yet?
Here is a young lady who has gone through 57 operations in her short twenty-two years. Yet, there is not one smidgen of “victim” in her. She has experienced God’s sufficient grace in situations that none of us have any experience. She has found Jesus Christ faithful. He has taken her through the most painful of struggles. Her whole life, every moment of every day, she has had to trust God to provide the strength for the challenges she has been given.
Consequently, there is no quit in this soldier of Christ. Tell her that her “handicaps” will keep her from doing something for Jesus and she responds, “Watch me!”
It is no surprise to find that her love for God’s truth is the foundation of her strength. In one of our seminars we were discussing how we should build teamwork. One of the questions went something like this: “In team meetings, do you share your feelings?” Those of you who know me know that is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. I have been fighting this “Rogerian twist” for years. The theory goes that what really counts is how you feel. Feelings reveal the real you. So, I did my thing and asked, “Why do we have a question like this? Why do we need to share feelings to build a team?
The response was immediate, forceful and not unexpected. One friend reacted with, “We have to share feelings! How can we be transparent if we don’t share our feelings?” Another pointed out that Jesus expressed his feelings. I responded by pointing out that in a team meeting I care less about what people feel than I do about what they believe. I want to know how God’s Word applies to the issue we are struggling with. Feelings are often wrong and change with a good cup of coffee. I won few converts.
Then the moderator of our session, who did not agree with me, turned to Hannah and asked, “Hannah, how do you feel about this?” “She responded by pointing to me and said, “I’m with him.” Why did she do that? Because she knows that feelings did not get her through 57 operations. Feelings do not give her the strength to overcome her challenges. Feelings will not get her to Brazil and bless her ministry there. Only God’s grace, received by knowing and believing what He has promised, will enable her to win. She can surely say with the psalmist, “Your promises have been thoroughly tested and your servant loves them.” (Psalm 119: 140)
So, what does this precious life say to me? First, she reminds me that I may have problems but I have no right to complain. My problems are nothing compared to what Hannah puts up with every day. Second, no matter what happens to me, like Hannah, I am not a victim. God is sovereign over every area and moment of my life. He rules over all to bring about my good. (Romans 8:28) Third, she reminds me that it is God’s truth and not my feelings that will carry me through every battle. (John 8:31-32) Fourth, there is no weapon or handicap that can keep me from fulfilling what God has called me and equipped me to do. (Phil. 4:13) His grace is sufficient for every call and every battle. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Finally, when I see Hannah I thank God. Her refusal to quit, her resolve to prove men wrong, her commitment to serve others rather than pity herself, her commitment to follow Jesus wherever he would call, has given me an example, a model, to remember and emulate. (1 Cor. 11:1)
Let me close by asking you one question. What excuse is keeping you from going to the ends of the earth with the Gospel? Jesus commanded his Church to go. I think the first question we must ask ourselves is not “why should I go” but “why should I stay?” The divine inclination should drive us outward in obedience with joy. At the beginning of every year we should ask, “Lord is this the year you want me to go?” Don’t let your challenges keep you from discovering the delight that comes from following Jesus to the ends of the earth. If you think you have too many “handicaps,” remember Hannah. If you think you don’t have the strength, remember this: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13)