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There is nothing like adversity to open the eyes of the blind.
Paul’s credentials were exemplary. He was a pure-blooded Jew, from the tribe of Benjamin. He refers to himself as a Hebrew of the Hebrews. He was a Pharisee, an esteemed group that demanded the strictest obedience to Jewish law. He was so zealous, that he led the persecution of Christians. He obeyed the law very strictly.
These were his prized credentials. They were the things that gave meaning to his life. But when he met Christ, he realised that these credentials that he once considered valuable were worthless because of what Christ had done.
Called To Suffer
Jesus sent Ananias to Paul, saying: “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 5-16).
That was a watershed in Paul’s life. It turned his life upside down. Past gains suddenly became losses to him. As a result, he says:
“What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:7-8).
Jesus Himself forewarns us about this. He says:
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 12:44-46).
When he sold all he had, he lost all he had. When he sold all he had, he suffered a loss. But then, he gained a kingdom. If we are not prepared to suffer this kind of loss, we cannot be disciples of Christ. Jesus says: “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:33).
Fellowship of Sufferings
We suffer by the denial of things (good and bad) that the world offers for our enjoyment and self-esteem. These include our pedigree, credentials, fame, fortune, success, status, wealth, spouse, family, friends, children, sexual life, good health, and so on.
When we are denied any of these, we suffer loss. However, the value of knowing Christ surpasses all these things. So, if He asks us to give up or do without any of them, we must do so readily. We do not do this as a sacrifice. We do this as an act of love.
Winning By Losing
In the world, we gain by winning. In the kingdom of God, we gain by losing. We trade earthly gain for spiritual knowledge.
30 years ago, I was attacked by armed robbers and shot in the leg. That incident introduced me to the Lord. He intervened, rescued me, and gave me His proverbial peace that surpasses all understanding, even during the attack. He insisted nothing was wrong with my leg, and then, a little later, healed my wounded leg.
He told me He was the One who sent the armed robbers to attack me. That was the only way He could get me to be still and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10). Then He told me to read Matthew 13:16, where He says: “Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear.”
What finally opened my ears and my eyes? Adversity! As we share in the sufferings of Christ, our eyes open. Then we see Him as our Saviour, as our deliverer, as our healer, as the Person who rescues us from the ordeals of life.
Jesus is the Great Physician, but I would not have known this unless I fell sick with a bullet-ridden leg and He then healed my leg.
When His disciples asked Him about a man who was blind from birth: “‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.’” (John 9:2-3).
God is glorified in the healing of the sick, and the sick get to know the God who heals and to see Him at work first-hand. And then they also receive the commission to heal the sick.
This is the process as described by John. First, we hear, then we see, and then we practice:
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life.” (1 John 1:1).
Many are the afflictions of the righteous (Psalm 34:19), and righteous Job went through a lot of afflictions. But when God finally intervened on his behalf, Job saw God in a completely different dimension. He exclaimed to God: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6).
There is nothing like adversity to open the eyes of the blind. The difference between what we know about God in prosperity and what we know about Him in adversity is the difference between hearing and seeing. For this reason, Jesus declares: “For judgment, I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” (John 9:39).
Affliction brings us to a more intimate knowledge of God. This is the promise of God: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” (Isaiah 43:1).
Accordingly, when the three Hebrew children were thrown into the burning fiery furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar for refusing to bow down to and worship the golden image that he made, Jesus appeared to them as the fourth person in the fire and they were not burnt.
The evil king himself confirmed this. He exclaimed:
“‘Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?’ They answered and said to the king, ‘True, O king.’ ‘Look!’ he answered, ‘I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.’” (Daniel 3:24-25).
Similarly, when the Jews were stoning Stephen to death, his eyes were opened, and he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of the throne of God:
“When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’” (Acts 7:54-56).
From Doctor To Nurse
In 2002, I felt an unusual lump in my groin while having a shower. Just as soon as I detected this, the Lord spoke to me. “Femi,”
e said, “It is a hernia. Go and see a doctor.”
I was excited that the Lord
had revealed this to me. But I could not understand why
e would then tell me to go and see a doctor instead of just healing me
with the bullet in my leg
s so different about hernia?
This became a big trial of faith while I argued that, rather than consult a doctor, the Lord should just heal me
When I finally went to the doctor, he worsened matters by informing me the hernia would have to be surgically corrected. In the end, after arguing with God for over one year, I succumbed to surgery.
After I left the hospital, the Lord told me to read this scripture:
“God blesses those who are kind to the poor. He helps them out of their troubles. He protects them and keeps them alive;
e publicly honours them and destroys the power of their enemies. He nurses them when they are sick and soothes their pains and worries.”
e said to me: “Femi, you know
e as a doctor. But I also want you to know
e as a nurse.”
Blessings of COVID-19
In 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, my Nouveau School was closed for 7 months. I lost a lot of money and ran into debt. My wife and I were stuck in the house for months because our ages put us in the most vulnerable category statistically.
But in the middle of that affliction, God gave me a mighty blessing. With the advent of ZOOM, He told me to start Midnight Prayers. This quickly included participants from Nigeria, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Great Britain and the United States.
For the past three-and-a-half years, we have met non-stop every midnight to pray for one hour. That prayer meeting has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. It was born out of the adversity of COVID-19.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
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