The Dallas Morning News
My comeback story can be yours, too
I’m preaching to myself when I say, ‘God’s not finished with you yet’
This column is part of our ongoing Opinion commentary on faith, called Living Our Faith. Find the full series at dallasnews.com/topic/living-ourfaith.
Everyone likes a good comeback story. As a pastor at Cross City Church in Euless, I hear countless personal stories chronicling the path from defeat and discouragement to joy and sometimes even victory. I have one myself.
When I was 6 years old, I became gravely ill and had a high fever for an extended period of time. One of my earliest memories is of my parents holding me in a bathtub filled with ice water, in an attempt to break that fever. I didn’t understand what was happening. Their desperate faces and my confusion are still vivid in my mind.
That night, the fever broke, and I began to recover, but as a result of the fever, I lost my hearing through innerear nerve damage in both ears. The loss of more than 90% of my hearing in both ears meant that my world went largely silent. I could only hear sounds that were accompanied by strong vibrations, such as the slamming of a door nearby or a heavy bass beat in music.
As a young boy, my world became one of silent moving lips and actions that had no sounds. I felt alone and separated from everything around me. I could not even hear my own voice.
My amazing parents jumped into efforts to alleviate the problems of my silent world, which included lipreading classes, hearing aids, and thinking through every possible way to help me function in a hearing world. Elementary teachers in my small town joined the army of helpers, and I honestly believe this team of incredible people made my world so much better than it otherwise would have been.
But life was still difficult, and the challenges were endless. Plus, I had some weighty questions about it all. Why is everyone else normal while I have this hearing loss? Where was God when this happened? How can a God who is supposed to be able do anything sit idly by when I’m struggling badly?
I was convinced that life was unfair and that I was a victim.
I can’t remember how many times God reminded me: I’m not done with you yet. The story is not over. Why can’t you trust me for the next chapter?
Slowly, I learned to trust God for one thing and then another. And now I trust God daily. God is still not done! My journey of faith continues, and I’m in no way disappointed with what he is doing!
It’s inevitable when we hear stories of people who have encountered God’s help and grace that we compare our lives with theirs. While our experiences will not all be the same, I believe strongly that the God who is working in my life is the same God who works in the stories in the Bible, and in your life, too.
When we consider the lives of those we read about in the Bible, we should ask: “What would these people have been like if they had never listened to God or been open to his help? How would their stories have been different?”
There are many stories in the Bible of those who did not allow God to bring them back. There are stories like that in our communities as well. I know some of them. I’ve helped counsel people when life went from bad to worse because someone close to them refused to consider that God was not through working in their lives yet.
I frequently think about where I would be today if I were on my own. I don’t like what I envision.
I settled my own issues with God over my hearing loss when I read a Bible passage wherein God told the apostle Paul that he would be given enough strength to overcome every physical and spiritual difficulty.
I read this during a time when I was doubting my ability to obey God in what I sensed he was calling me to do. I was willing, but I knew my limitations. Then I read this promise:
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
The promise God gave Paul became mine. I’ve learned in the decades since applying that verse to my life that God keeps his promises. His grace is sufficient. His power is perfected in weakness.