Two years ago, I was diagnosed with coronary heart disease. My LAD artery (the so-called “widow maker”) was 95 percent blocked, and I was apparently fairly close to having a heart attack. Thanks to my very observant general practitioner, I was quickly put through various tests; and, within a few days, I was undergoing surgery to get a stent in my artery.
I was 41 years old.
I’m an active person. I’m probably 15 pounds over my target weight, but I’m by no means obese. I’ve never smoked, I have no high-risk behaviors that would cause heart disease, and I have no real history of heart disease in my family.
And yet, there I was lying in a hospital bed with a severe medical condition, listening to nurse after nurse make the same comment: “You are really young to be in here.”
I’d love to be able to tell you that I faced this trial with faith and peace, delving into the Scriptures, spending hours in prayer, and trusting God for His will in my life. But I didn’t respond that way. I was angry. I was afraid. And the last thing I wanted to do was talk to God about it.
My logic went something like this: “God, I’ve served You most of my life. I gave up a great for-profit career to help rescue babies and families from abortion. I get mean emails from all sorts of people because of the work I’m doing on Your behalf. I travel all over the country trying to motivate churches to get engaged in the effort to end abortion. Many of those churches never ask me back. In short, God, I gave up a much more comfortable life to do this work for You, and this is how You repay me? What’s the deal?”
Maybe you can relate, or maybe you’re mentally chiding me right now for being immature. If character is revealed in a crisis, then I have to admit that this particular crisis clearly showed that my character needed some work.
It took me a few months, but I eventually came around. I began to see God’s hand at work, even in my trials. I realized God had orchestrated events that most likely saved my life. Obviously, I didn’t die of a heart attack. God used the miracles of modern medicine—including a fantastic medical procedure to fix my artery—to patch me up and get me back to work. And since then I’ve made life changes that should result in my being around for decades to come. Long enough, I trust, to see abortion become unthinkable and unavailable in America.
Beauty from ashes. Rejoicing from pain. Healing from sickness. Growth from struggle. Constant, encouraging, and powerful themes from Scripture that remind us that God is a God of life. Even through death, God brings new life.
I love to memorize Scripture. It’s getting harder to do as I get older; but for me, it’s probably the most meaningful and helpful spiritual discipline. I’ve been working my way through Psalm 19. If you have a few moments this week, I encourage you to meditate on it:
1 The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world.
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
6 Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
13 Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:1-14 (NASB)
Memorizing verses forces me to mull over the words, digesting them and taking them in, in order to understand what the author is communicating. I’m no theologian, but I believe Psalm 19 has three major parts. Part one is a glorious description of nature’s ongoing proclamation of God’s glory. Verse 7 opens up part two, which is a wonderful testimony to the transforming power of God’s Word and His character. Part three (verses 12-14) is a beautiful prayer, asking God not only to keep the author from sin, but also for purity of speech.
This Easter, do you need to be reminded of God’s glory? Of the transforming power of His Word? Of His sanctifying work in our hearts? I need that.
This morning I was reading an article about a woman who was testifying about her abortion. Her baby had a medical condition, so she had an abortion doctor kill her baby. The mother said she had the baby aborted for his or her own good. Killing the child was really an act of love, she claimed. But was that really what was best for her innocent, preborn baby?
We serve a God who is sovereign, and only He has the authority to determine the day of death (Ecclesiastes 8:8). We serve a God who is constantly transforming us, our families, our cities, and our nations by the power of His Word. We serve a God who is sanctifying us daily, drawing us closer and closer to Him even when it hurts.
We serve a God who sent His only begotten Son to be born of a human woman, live a sinless life as a human man, and die for millions upon millions of sinful, broken humans. But He didn’t stay dead. He sprung from the grave, conquering sin and death once and for all.
Look, we have messy lives. Some of us have medical problems—even in the womb. Some of us develop coronary heart disease at 41 years old. Some of us are hurting mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. But Jesus came that we might live, and live abundantly (John 10:10). And that right to life applies to all of us—inside or outside the womb. Let’s continue linking arms together, protecting all human life in honor of Jesus Christ, who honored us by His death and resurrection.
Have a blessed Easter!