Do You See Christ in Your Suffering?
On a recent trip to a Sudanese refugee camp in Uganda, our team experienced a gloriously intense encounter with God or what I like to call a Divine Appointment. It had been a long day with air travel from the United States and multiple layovers when we finally arrived in Uganda, but our trip was not over as we had a long van ride to our destination.
We settled into the van and as always prayed for a safe journey. The trip was arduous, as we traversed roads that were winding over hills and into valleys that were lined with families walking home for the day. It was sunset and we were making good time when suddenly, we approached a curve in the road that we were unable to navigate. We went off the road coming to rest in a marshy area, but the force of the sudden stop thrust all of us toward the front of the van.
Was this an end to our mission trip before we even got to our destination?
I quickly assessed our team and determined it was safe to move from the vehicle to the side of the road. As we were getting out of the vehicle, many that we had passed along the side of the road began to stop and help.
Beth Moore describes three potentials scenarios and responses when we are faced with disastrous situations such as a car wreck, a diagnosis of cancer, a crisis in our marriage, depression or whatever storm rages in our life story.
First scenario the car wreck is diverted, cancer disappears, we are miraculously healed and our prayer is answered. Sometimes when God answers with this scenario, we miss the opportunity to see the power of God. I often wonder how many situations God intervenes, and we don’t ever realize he has protected us from a devastating tragedy.
Second, we can be delivered through the tragedy with a great testimony.
In this scenario if the diagnosis is cancer we face surgery and chemotherapy, if our marriage is in trouble we seek counseling, but through the trials, we are able to see Christ.
Lastly, we can be delivered from the tragedy, into the arms of God where he greets us in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Christ was going to lead us through this disaster with a great testimony, if we could only see through his eyes.
We finally arrived at our destination, shook up and wondering if we should proceed with the planned training at the refugee camp. Although we were obviously shaken physically, emotionally and spiritually, we prayed during our devotion time to see this challenge through the eyes of Christ.
Was it possible we could explain all these things by luck when we went off the road in an area that protected us from a more catastrophic wreck or that we could still drive the van? Was it luck that our team was not significantly hurt? Was it just a coincidence, that no one was hit on the side of the road?
When emergencies happen, we can panic and respond by doing the wrong thing, become paralyzed with fear and do nothing or we can pray. This situation was indeed demoralizing for our team and appeared to be an end to our mission trip.
What did Christ see?
Christ saw that we landed in a marsh after passing many severe cliffs which would have resulted in the van rolling over and ending up in a deep ravine.
Christ saw there were many families walking along the side of the road, and we went off at the exact time and place where there was no one in our path.
Christ saw once the van had been pulled from the marsh and set on the road, there was no damage, and we were not faced with the challenge of a night on the side of the road injured.
Christ saw that our injuries included minor fractures that were not incapacitating and would not require searching for a hospital.
Our devotion that evening was powerful seeing the wreck through the eyes of Christ and listing all of the ways we were blessed, it was unanimous to proceed with our plans and continue with our training at the refugee camp.
This was a divine appointment and Christ had work for us to do in the refugee camp. He was with us in the wreck, and He was already waiting for us in the refugee camp. We had fifty students from the refugee camp that Teach To Transform trained with medical skills so they could show compassion by caring for their communities in the name of Christ.
I pray that as you are faced with tragedy; first seek Christ through prayer and in your suffering see a glimpse of Heaven through the eyes of Christ.
For His Glory,
Dr. Tom is a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician in the USA with over 25 years of experience and an ordained minister at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville Kentucky. His true passion is world missions and he and his wife Karen are the founders of Teach To Transform, an organization that exists to equip partners around the world with medical and vocational skills they can use to share the gospel of Christ. You can subscribe to Dr. Tom’s weekly blog, Divine Appointments, to read more stories and learn more about the mission of Teach To Transform.