How many of us need another holiday to recover from the holiday just past? So I had an interesting holiday. My daughter, Samantha, did her PSLE last year and we thought it might be nice for our family to take a vacation to Japan. We had planned to bring her to the Universal Studio’s theme park in Osaka because she loves Harry Potter, and we thought it would be a treat for her. So… we booked our plane tickets really early. Our accommodations were settled. I saved up for our expenditure there. We got our winter wear ready. My wife planned all the places we were going to go and the transportation needed, down to the finest detail.
Two days before we were to fly off to Japan, Samantha and Samuel were being their usual playful selves. Samuel was hiding in her wardrobe and did not want to get out. Samantha wanted him out. And in the midst of the jostling, the entire door of the wardrobe fell off its hinges and unto Samantha’s foot. Bam! Her foot was bruised; she was limping around. Our initial thought was, man, how is she going to go to Japan like that when we have so much walking to do.
We prayed for her and asked that God would heal her. The next day, it occurred to us, “what if there is a fracture in her foot?” So we got an X-ray done on her foot and our worst fears were confirmed – suspected hairline fracture. Her foot was put in a cast. It was then that we had to make a hard decision, could she still go to Japan? After weighing all the pros and cons, we decided that my wife would stay behind with Samantha and look after her.
Samantha was distraught; she was weeping, “I want to go to Japan.” But Samantha is remarkably resilient. After that short episode of crying, she managed to get over it. Not only that, not once did she blame her brother for causing the accident. And he was flying to Japan, not her! “Maybe next year”, we told her.
You know, when this occurred, one of the first things I said to God was, “Why?” “Why God did You allow this to happen. And why would You not heal her?” And God brought my mind to a passage from His Word from Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
I’ve walked with God long enough to trust His Word and what He says, even though I may not always be able to see how it all works out. What good could possibly happen out of this situation? Well, after returning home from the trip, I can think of at least two good things that happened in two broad categories. The first is the time spent in cultivating various relationships: mother-daughter, father-son, and between my parents (who went with me on the trip) and I and my son. That we got to spend our time in this manner was not one of our choosing, but that we had the opportunity to do so was of God and we definitely saw great value in it.
The second and perhaps more valuable outcome was that the trip taught me more about myself than if my wife and daughter had been with me. It tested my patience with my son and parents. It highlighted my lack of communion with the Lord when things get stressful and I get tired as I did frequently on the trip. It revealed also God’s goodness, blessing and provision in spite of all my flaws – the wonderful experiences we enjoyed, the beauty of His creation we got to see, etc.
You see the good that Romans 8:28 talks about is not things going our own way. Rather it is God working in various situations to make us more like Him; that our character is moulded to be like Jesus Christ. Loving. Patient. Compassionate. We see this in the very next verse in Romans 8:29 “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…” That’s the ultimate good God is working towards. And in the trip, the revelation of how much work is needed in my life was God’s gracious gift to me.
What was 2018 like for you? Was it a great year? Was it a year of disappointment? Do you look forward to 2019 with great anticipation or great apprehension? Whichever the case may be, there is this wonderful promise of God that He is able to work all things together for your good. But here’s the proviso: God does so for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Therefore, God invites you to place the past hurts and disappointments, the past failures and even victories into His hands, He invites you to commit all your hopes and fears of this new year to Him… because He promises to work all things together for good. [Let’s pray]