My father had profound mental health issues which caused him, my mother, and us seven siblings much grief. I had a very unhappy childhood.
When I was two years old, I was seriously scalded by a pot of boiling water. To this day I still bear the scars over several parts of my body.
At 17, I developed glomerulonephritis, a chronic kidney disease which rarely occurs in people so young.
At 20, I contracted salmonella, which kept me hospitalized for six weeks, from which I barely survived and which further damaged my already diseased kidneys.
At 37, I had total kidney failure. I had to be kept alive artificially via a dialysis machine that cleaned the toxins from my blood three times per week for four hours at a time at a local clinic. Without this treatment, I would be dead within a week.
Two and a half years later, I received a kidney from my sister, which freed me from the dialysis machine, but which required me to take life-preserving immunosuppressive drugs every twelve hours and make regular hospital visits to monitor the new organ.
Five months after that life-saving transplant my beautiful wife passed away suddenly at 34 years old, leaving me with our five young children and my health issues. It was a devastating loss, but I persevered with life and remarried several years later. My lovely wife and I have two beautiful young children together.
Unfortunately, my transplanted kidney failed two years ago, and again I must be kept alive artificially by a dialysis machine. I’m 57 and waiting for a second kidney transplant.
My medical journey has included prolonged periods of poor health and being bedridden, life-threatening emergency episodes, hundreds of hospital visits, about a thousand needles, mountains of drugs, countless blood tests and other procedures, several surgeries, many complications, and many admissions to hospitals. And this is ongoing.
I’m aware that there are a lot of people who have had much tougher lives than me. But to me, my life has been more difficult than just about anyone I know. Yet, in spite of it all, my life has been great. In the midst of all this, I have been happily married to two wonderful women, had seven beautiful children, have served God as a missionary and volunteer worker for 38 years, and have lived in or visited 18 countries with many adventures along the way.
So how have I managed to keep positive and keep getting up off the canvas after it seemed that adversity had landed me a killer blow? The answer lies in having faith in God and the afterlife:
- You know that even if you don’t know the reasons why you’ve been so “unlucky,” God does, and that He does all things well.1
- You know that even if your family and friends cannot understand what you are going through, God does.
- You know that He still loves and cares for you and that even in the midst of terrible adversity and heartbreak, He will never leave or forsake you.2
- You know that Jesus Himself was not insulated from suffering and therefore can understand how you feel and sympathize with you, having Himself been rejected, betrayed, mocked, tortured, and eventually brutally executed.3
- You know that the Bible promises that “All things work together for good to them that love God.”4
- You know that you can find joy after despair because He promised that “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”5
- You know that a knock-out blow is not a killer blow. With His help you can get up and fight again. “The righteous falls seven times and rises again.”6
- You can find comfort in the biblical story of Job, the wealthy Old Testament landowner who lost his vast fortune, his flocks, his home, his children, and finally his health, through a series of terrible natural and personal disasters; yet he kept his faith in God.
- You know that your suffering can teach you many precious life lessons, including empathy for others who are suffering, and that you can be a source of encouragement to them.
- You know that this life is preparation for the next life and that the lessons you learn here have eternal value.
- You know that you can look forward to an eternity free of tears, trouble, sickness, and pain. “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”7
If you are a nonbeliever, get connected to God now through receiving His Son, Jesus, into your heart and start your journey of faith today. If you are new to the Christian faith, work on growing in and strengthening your faith by studying the Bible and other faith-building Christian materials. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”8
Faith makes all the difference in the world as to how you handle adversity. It will be well worth the time and effort you put into growing a strong faith in God.
- See Mark 7:37.
- See Hebrews 13:5.
- See Hebrews 4:15.
- Romans 8:28
- Psalm 30:5
- Proverbs 24:16
- Revelation 21:4
- Romans 10:17