Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
There was a Reader’s Digest article about a true story of Chris Carrier who, when he was 10-years-old was abducted by a man trying to get even with his father Hugh. The man took him to a secluded spot, stabbed him repeatedly with an ice pick, shot him in the head and then left him for dead.
Miraculously Chris somehow survived. He was blinded in one eye but he survived. However, the incident left him emotionally scared. For years he never went anywhere alone and could only sleep at the foot of his parents’ bed. He was very self-conscious about his injured eye and never smiled. He became insecure and resentful. But when he was 13 Chris got active in a local Baptist church. He found acceptance and love in the youth ministry there and became a Christian.
One Wednesday evening, at the urging of his friends, Chris shared his testimony and as he did he saw his own horrible experience help others—this caused him to grow deeper in his faith. After high school he entered university and graduated with a degree in psychology and then surrendered to a full-time call to youth ministry and entered Southwestern (Baptist Theological) Seminary. He graduated, married and had three children. God has used him over the years in a powerful way to minister to the unique needs of adolescents.
God can redeem even horrible experiences and make them work for our good.
Eventually Chris met his assailant—a man named David McAllister. Police found him in a nursing home decades after the crime—a feeble, bed-ridden old man. Shortly after they met, McAllister apologised to Chris for all he had done to him as a boy. And, empowered by the love of God, Chris forgave him. In fact he continued to go and visit him. The two became friends. McAllister told Chris how he had grown up without a father, spending much of his childhood in juvenile halls and that he was drinking heavily by the time he was a teen.
He said he had always considered God to be something only weaklings believed in, but with Chris’ help he began to pray and before he died he became a Christian. Chris said:
What that man did was not the end of my life—it was the beginning. As strange as it seems, that old man did more for me than he could ever have known. For in his darkness I found a light that guides me still.
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This amazing story says that it is not always bad when bad times come. God can redeem even horrible experiences and make them work for our good. Isn’t that a tremendous thought!
When Tough Times Hit
So, what are we supposed to do in the tough times? I think we must stay close to God. Many times when we face unfairness in life, we can blame God and give up on him. We move away from his love. In his classic book Disappointment With God, Philip Yancey tells of a man by the name of Douglas who faced a great deal of unfairness in life. His troubles began when his wife discovered a lump in her breast. Surgeons removed that breast, but two years later the cancer had spread to her lungs.
Douglas took over many household and parental duties as his wife battled the debilitating effects of chemotherapy. Sometimes she couldn’t keep down any food. She lost her hair and was almost always tired and vulnerable to fear and depression. One night in the midst of this crisis, Douglas was driving down a city street with his wife and 12-year-old daughter, when a drunk driver swerved across the center line and smashed head-on into their car. Douglas’ wife was badly shaken but unhurt. His daughter suffered a broken arm and severe facial cuts from windshield glass.
But Douglas himself received the worst injury: a massive blow to the head. After the accident, Douglas never knew when a headache might strike. He could not work a full day, and sometimes he would become disoriented and forgetful. Worse, the accident permanently affected his vision. One eye wandered at will, refusing to focus. Due to double vision he could hardly walk down a flight of stairs without assistance or even read a book!
It’s all about trusting God when we don’t know what else to do.
Yet he told Yancey that he felt no disappointment in God over his situation. His faith in God was still strong. He said, “I learned first through my wife’s illness and then especially through the accident, not to confuse God with life.” In other words Douglas realised that life is unfair but God is not life! And he refused to let the unfairness of his life push him from God. It’s all about trusting God when we don’t know what else to do.
Dr James C. Dobson, in his book When God Doesn’t Make Sense, uses Abraham as an illustration of a time when God didn’t make sense. Abraham and Sarah were infertile, but God had promised Abraham that his descendants would be more than the stars in the sky. So Abraham trusted God, and God proved true by giving them a son even in their old age. Then, when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Abraham again trusted him and followed God’s instruction. Even when all the facts before him proved that there was no way, God simply asked Abraham to not waver in his unbelief. To put his trust in his promise.
You know, we do live in an unfair world. No-one is exempt from tragedy and disappointment and, as Yancey reminds us God himself was not exempt. His only Son, sinless though he was, suffered and died unfairly for the sins of others. Yancey writes, “At once the Cross revealed what kind of world we have and what kind of God we have: a world of gross unfairness and a God of sacrificial love.”