Something happens, and it seems so random. Try as we might, we can’t connect to any good result.
And yet, God’s purposes which are at first veiled often yield an amazing effect.
A verse I had perhaps skimmed over in the past came into sharp relief for me this week.
In Galatians 4:13, we find these words, “As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you.”
No one knows what illness the writer, the apostle Paul, might have referred to or whether it was his “thorn in the flesh” he referenced in other places. As one Bible scholar offered, we don’t know if he came to Galatia to heal from an illness he already had or whether in his travels, he intended to just pass through, but was instead stricken with an infirmity that caused him to stay. In any event, Paul tells us it was the illness itself that brought him there and supplied him the opportunity to proclaim the good news of Jesus to the Galatians. And then because of his relationship with them, he continued to correspond with them to encourage and admonish.
We can draw a line from Paul’s illness to the writing of the letter to the Galatians included in our Bibles today. Who could have seen that coming?
I’d say that was quite an enduring outcome from an unexpected happening.
This verse also illustrates how God can use us in our own perceived weakness. In writing to the Corinthians, Paul said, “I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.” He also shares these words the Lord spoke to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). We cannot measure our strength by our feelings, but we allow our feelings of weakness to cause us to lean on the Lord. “For when I am weak, then I am strong,” he says. (Corinthians 12:10).
When I had breast cancer twenty-two years ago, the Lord prepared me for a difficult road ahead through many dreams I had. I wondered if God had done all of this why hadn’t he just healed me. After my diagnosis, a dear friend sent me these verses in Romans 5, “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” I lived on these verses trusting that God was using what I was going through in unexpected ways. There was much that came out of that time, but one of those things was God launched me into my next chapter, which was writing.
So, if you’re facing your own version of an unexpected problem, take comfort in God’s ability to use it in ways you may not even be able to imagine.
Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District, from Crosslink Publishing is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art.
To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com
Beverly Varnado copyright 2022