All Things Work Together for Good
Chance, misfortune or disgrace: all this flooded my childish mind at the age of thirteen. I suffered from chronic asthma; I could not run outside of the house while the rain was falling, nor be in the river for as long of a time as my brothers and sisters could, because I would have an asthma attack. It seemed that asthma controlled my life and would perhaps kill me.
I have always believed that the ways of the Lord are the best, even when I do not understand them. I believe that now more than ever.
An agonizing moment one night was the method the Lord used to show me the brightness of His love and to cast a light into my young mind. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him.” Hebrews 11:6.
I was trying to sleep, but in vain. I could not breathe! My dad had passed away, so we were alone on a small farm. My siblings were asleep, and Mom was my only company. She was doing all that she could to help me with my asthma; but I just could not find relief. It was raining very hard that night; there was much thunder; and the dense clouds, so full of water, were making the night even darker and more dreadful. My bed was by a window that only had a thin curtain, so I could look out on this terrifying storm.
My mom stayed with me by my bed, while I lay there desperately struggling for every breath. Neither of us was saying anything, but there was plenty of noise because of the storm. Suddenly, I heard a different sound than rain; it was the shaky voice of my mother saying, “I already lost your father; now I’m willing to lose you, if that’s the Lord’s will, if you are not to honor and glorify Him in your youth….” After a pause, she ended with this question, “Son, are you willing to die?”
It was not easy to answer that question. I tried to look at the sky, but it was cloudy, and there were no stars. I thought that it was my last night. I was sure that my expectations, my dreams and projects were all dying in one night. In that moment, I decided to surrender completely in God’s arms, and I pleaded for Him to give me peace. I had the certainty that He was with me, and though I could not see the stars, I knew the “Sun of Righteousness” would light my future, whether it would be in this life or in eternity. Then I answered that upsetting question. “I think I’m willing.” That was all I could say.
When my mom left the room, I fell on my knees and prayed, “Lord, if You give me life, I will dedicate it to You. But, if it is Your will that I die before dishonoring You, let it be so.” Then, I lay down and slept. Since then, I have seen the dawn appear many times, and I have delighted in knowing that the Lord extended my life to serve Him. How could I not love my Lord?
A short time after that frightening experience, God completely restored my health. Because of this, I have made the strong decision to serve Him. Since He is my Father, I asked Him to show me a place where I could learn more about Him and how to work in His cause. This is what led to my becoming a member of Las Delicias Foundation in Armenia, Colombia, on January 26, 2008. This has been a very interesting experience. Here, things are run completely differently from my own concept of God’s work. I have learned very much about God’s ways. At the Foundation, the Lord has put me through different situations to help me to trust more in Him. As a young person, I had goals and personal plans for my life, but now I see it from another perspective. Each day God’s plan gets more meaning than my own plans. I have learned that the Lord’s school is a school of self-denial and surrender, and that in humbleness is found the real greatness of character.
Recently, I went through a rough trial concerning my family. Because of my father’s death, I have had great responsibilities laid on me. One day my mom called me and with tears related to me the difficult financial situation that she was going through. She did not know what to do and did not have the strength to go on, either.
I prayed constantly throughout the conversation, and the Lord gave me just the words to comfort her. I reminded her of how God had worked miraculously to maintain us when she became a widow. By remembering those experiences of how God had manifested Himself in the past, she recovered her spirit. The tears ceased and her faith was strengthened.
The brethren in the church and some relatives said I should be with her to support her through such a critical time. I took it to the Lord in prayer. I prayed, “Lord, I’ve decided to follow Your plans. Please, take charge of my life.” Our Father, Who is not oblivious to the sincere plea of the most unworthy of His children, did not delay in answering my prayer. Not too long after I began praying that prayer, my mom received a call from a stranger, who said, “Mrs. Margarita, your presence is required at the bank to retire this sum of money.” It was an amount that I could not have earned working for a very long time to help her. She called me, but this time, full of joy and new courage. I wept in silence, as I could see the Divine solution. After such an experience, I ask myself, “What will I pay the Lord with, for all of this? Even my whole life is not enough.”
Often when I was facing the responsibility of making decisions concerning my family, I longed for my father’s presence. You cannot imagine how I wished he could be by my side, that I could hear his counsels and receive his support! But I did not have him anymore. Sometimes, I think about the young people that have their parents near but have no appreciation for what they do for them. When death snatches them from your side, you will want them back, but they lie in their graves. You will long for their advice when you have to make big and small decisions, but they are just dust. Once they are gone, you realize that their sermons, watching eyes, corrections, rebukes and even punishments were no problem, if only you could have them back. Please, young people, never forget that “Honor thy father and thy mother” was written by God’s own finger.
Even though sometimes I feel lonely, the Lord continues to manifest Himself to me in very many ways and says, “I am with you.” Recently I was baptized. God had another surprise for me that day. After the doors of the Foundation were opened for me, my other siblings also wanted to learn what I was doing. I have been praying for them. The surprise was that when I got baptized, one of my sisters also decided to confirm her faith through baptism. I made the decision not to cry, but it was impossible for me to hold back my tears while watching my sister being immersed in the waters. In that way the Lord told me: “You are not alone.”
Here, at the Foundation, I found a refuge; I have found a practical place, where I can learn to better serve the Lord and learn more about Him; I have learned patience, perseverance and love for what I did not particularly like before, and I have gained much spiritual development.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.
This is a text worth memorizing. It is easy to learn but hard to live by and apply to our lives, especially when we have to face misfortune and disgrace.
By Jonathan Santana. Las Delicias, Armenia, Colombia. Website: www.fundacionlasdelicias.org. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.