What happens to us in life is not nearly as important as how we respond to what happens. Circumstances don’t dictate who we are – our response to the circumstances dictates who we are. Let me share a few examples.
Megachurch pastor Ed Dobson was diagnosed with the degenerative disease ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He could have become bitter and a grumbler. Instead he focused on being grateful for what he could do. He writes:
“Lord, thank you for waking me up this morning. Lord, thank you that I can turn over in my bed. Lord, thank you that I can still get out of bed. Lord, thank you that I can walk to the bathroom…Lord, thank you that I can still brush my teeth…Lord, thank you that I can still eat breakfast. Lord, thank you that I can still dress myself. Lord, thank you that I can still drive my car. Lord, thank you that I can still walk. Lord, thank you that I can still talk.” What a response!
We have recently been reading about Dr. Kent Brantley who went as a medical missionary to Liberia. He worked with patients there. He said:
“One thing I have learned is that following God often leads us to unexpected places. When Ebola spread into Liberia, my usual hospital work turned more and more toward treating the increasing number of Ebola patients. I held the hands of countless individuals as this terrible disease took their lives away from them. I witnessed the horror firsthand, and I can still remember every face and name.
When I started feeling ill on that Wednesday morning, I immediately isolated myself until the test confirmed my diagnosis three days later. When the result was positive, I remember a deep sense of peace that was beyond all understanding. God was reminding me of what He had taught me years ago, that He will give me everything I need to be faithful to Him.
Now it is two week later, and I am in a totally different setting. My focus, however, remains to same – to follow God. As you continue to pray for Nancy and me, yes, please pray for our recovery. More importantly, pray that we would be faithful to God’s call on our lives in these new circumstances.” What a response!
Thomas Samford was legal counsel for Auburn University for over 30 years. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He told his pastor, Walter Albritton that he had about a year to live. Thomas never thought of himself as a victim, but welcomed how his faith might respond to it. He actually lived a dozen more years.
Walter writes how on Wednesday mornings a group of men would meet at 6:30. He says he will never forget Thomas saying, “I thank God for my cancer. My cancer led me to know God. Except for my cancer, I would have missed meeting the Master. I am not fighting cancer,” he would tell us. “I am simply asking for grace and strength to teach His Word until He is ready for me to come home. Whatever time and energy He gives me, I will use to please Him.” And he did! What a response!
Jesus said, “In me you may have peace. In the world you are going to have trials and sorrows, but be cheerful because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Here are 3 men who know the real meaning of R.S.V.P.