by Paul Wiersma
“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
After reading a verse like Romans 8:28, it can be easy to jump to the conclusion that, “Great! I’m going to be rich, popular, healthy, successful, have a great job, etc. and life is going to be fantastic!”
Part of this is true if you equate life going well to the process of continually being shaped into the likeness of God’s son, Jesus. However, not very often does this process transpire through things being easy. What if the “good” that is being talked about is accomplished through the refinement of suffering and hardship? Do our trials come as a surprise to God, or has he ordained them to accomplish the ultimate “good”—becoming more shaped and conformed in the image of Jesus Christ?
On February 29, 1992 I attended my cousin’s basketball game in Holland, MI with my grandparents. Like most three year-olds, I was more interested in exploring than I was in watching the game, so my cousin and I ventured under the bleachers to climb on them. Life for me changed in an instant as I slipped through the bleachers and fell 15 feet, thereafter suffering a closed head injury. Until the paramedics could arrive, I was tended to by an off-duty physician who happened to be at the game. Once the paramedics arrived, I was taken to Holland Hospital where I was immediately flown via Aero Med to Butterworth Hospital. Having a grand mal seizure in the helicopter and several more once I had arrived to meet my fear-struck parents in the pediatric ICU, I was immediately put on external life support.
In the moment of my accident, was God really working for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose? If you would have asked my parents when they got the phone call informing them of what had happened, that was the furthest thought from their minds. “God, how could you let something like this happen to our three year-old son?”
My family continued to question God as I battled epilepsy until the age of 18. I would have anywhere from three to four petit mal seizures a day. Needless to say, school was always significantly harder for me growing up. Socially, I was misunderstood by many of my peers. Athletically, I wasn’t as gifted as those around me and made few of the sports teams I tried out for. Meanwhile, having a mother who is a registered nurse, we moved forward in hopes of finding a solution to the daily seizures. Continuous failures in medications and treatments frustrated my family to the point of near desperation. It was only when we surrendered our own initiatives for healing to God’s perfect love and provision for us when we were presented with the possibility of brain surgery.
The surgery included the resection of a scarred lesion of brain tissue resulting from the fall 15 years’ prior, determined to be the catalyst for my epilepsy. The doctors confidently presented the option of surgery to us and after much prayer, we took a step of faith to have the operation done on September 26, 2006.
I had my last seizure that day. My family and I are so thankful for God’s deliverance from an unyielding struggle.
Now, let’s get back to the portion of scripture I referenced earlier that talks about God working for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. The initial head trauma, the hospital stays, the daily seizures, the difficult school years, the brain surgery; if these are looked at through the lens of “good”—meaning a catalyst for God working in my life to refine me to be more like his Son—then yes, they were very good! I can’t say I would wish my experience on anyone, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything either because of how it has fortified my relationship with the Lord.
For the past two years I’ve served at David’s House Ministries as the Associate Director of Development. I’m tasked with the responsibility of raising the funds to care for residents I very well could have been one of. Not only is it a real joy to serve our residents with this as my perspective, but the way the Lord has continued to refine me through the process of procuring resources for the ministry has been a true privilege as well.
Paul Wiersma is the Associate Director of Development at David’s House Ministries.
Read more about Paul here.