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Grace Through the Trials
The High School Years
Serving in a restaurant. That was my job during high school when I was not helping my parents out with the little deli our family owned. I enjoyed doing it, and actually was able to pay off my entire first year of college with the money I earned working. My parents always taught me to have a strong work ethic and I always tried to make them proud, and every day I went into work, I attempted to do just that. I also happened to be a part of a high school basketball team during my high school years (even though I wasn't very good) but I enjoyed playing very much. I said all that to say this: I was busy during high school and I do not regret it at all. With the busyness, I experienced something that literally changed my life forever.
The Scary Event
It all began to happen one night after coming home from basketball practice. I was obviously tired and decided to take a quick nap before having dinner. I immediately fell asleep and next thing I know, my mom is waking me up for dinner (Good thing I didn't oversleep that!). Groggy, I stumbled out of bed and made my way downstairs to eat. I proceeded to sit at the table, and, as a family, we prayed for the meal, and began to eat and talk about our day. Yet, something didn't feel right for me. I felt...weird and I did not know why. Then, all of a sudden, without any warning, I twitched. My arm moved and I did not knowingly do it. I knew something was wrong right away, but out of fear, I refused to say anything. Then I twitched again, this time a little more violently. Then both my arms twitched. My heart began to race, something definitely was not right. My mom noticed it too and proceeded to ask me if I was OK. I shrugged it off and told her I was fine and nothing was really wrong. Yet, the twitching didn't stop and now was becoming more frequent. My mom jumped up out of her seat and ran over to me. My body was now completely convulsing by this time. A grand mal seizure had taken complete control over my body, and I could not stop it. My mom and stepdad moved me away from the table, away from any objects, and laid me on the floor. After about a minute, they bring me to the car and rush me to the hospital. On the way, one of the scariest moments in probably my mom's entire life happened: As I was in her arms in the back of the car, my eyes rolled to the back of my head. She thought, at that very moment, I had died in her arms. My stepdad immediately pulled the car over and dialed 911.
The Hospital Bed
The paramedics arrived, stabilized me and brought me as quick as possible to the nearest hospital. The seizure was beginning to subside. Preliminary questions were asked to me in reference to my name, address, phone number, day of the week, etc. I knew my name but I believe was confused on everything else. I had a splitting headache, my whole body felt like I played basketball for 24 hours straight: It was extremely sore when I moved! I couldn't comprehend all that was going on. It all happened so quickly. They kept me in the hospital overnight for observation and did a CAT scan, upon which I was released the next morning. I thought it was all over, that I was never going to go through this terrible experience again.and I can go back to living life like normal.
Yet, about a month or two later, I woke up in the middle of the night to find a few paramedics standing directly over me. Apparently, my older brother, who was in a room right next to me that happened to have a small window so we could talk to each other at times, was woken up out of his sleep by a constant thumping sound coming from my room. He peered over the window that separated our rooms, only to find me having a seizure and my head slamming against the wall. He quickly went downstairs and woke up my Mom and Stepdad and told them what was happening. They quickly came to my aid and dialed 911.
Once again, I found myself in the hospital. Only this time it wasn't just an overnight observation. They wanted to do a complete brain scan on me and observe my brain wave patterns overnight (I felt like R2-D2 or something!). My dad ended up spending the night with me, which I thank God for, and I tried to pretend I was ok. Deep down I knew I was scared. I had no idea what was happening to me or why it was happening.
I was called to preach, I wanted to go to Bible college, I wanted to do something great for God and give Him my whole life. Yet, here I am laying in a hospital bed, not even knowing if I was going to be able to do many of the things I have been for so long. Then I began to recall a specific passage of Scripture over and over in my mind while I laid there.
"My Grace is Sufficient for Thee"
II Corinthians 12:7-10 says :"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
This was the passage that kept coming to my mind. The apostle Paul was dealing with an infirmity that he brought to God three times for Him to remove. Yet, Paul did not get his infirmity removed, and God had a reason. You see, Christ told Paul that His grace was sufficient for him. God's grace to get Paul through that difficulty was evident.
Paul even stated that because of the grace of God upon his life that when he was weak physically, God's grace would always be enough to make him strong. He even went as far as to say he took pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions and in distresses. Why? Because he knew for some reason, even though maybe he couldn't see it at that point ant time in his life, God had a purpose and because of that he was just going to trust in God and allow God's grace to give him the strength he needed daily.
I kept thinking about that whole passage as I laid there in the hospital bed and even though I didn't understand it all then, I surely do now. Anyone that knows me well, knows that my memory is not the greatest and I often forget short term things, not intentionally, but it just happens as a result of what I have experienced in my life. Yet, even though at times that can be hard to deal with and accept, I realize now, at the age of 24, married for 2 year, being a youth director, working in a Christian school, and doing other things in ministry and in life, that I am extremely fortunate that I did not end up paralyzed, or with more severe brain damage. God's grace is evident in my life, and I thank God for it every single day.
Reader, there may be times in your life when in the moment, in the middle of the storms and trials your experiencing that you may not understand exactly why it is all happening just like I didn't understand. But please, before you become bitter or angry with God about what happened, consider God's grace in your life and where you really could be. Sometimes, we are so quick to complain, murmur, and shake our fist at God when in the broad scope of things, God's grace has already been more then we could ever ask for. I live in America, a country where I can worship God freely, I have 2 arms and 2 legs that both work and allow me to do things that maybe someone else cannot do. I have ears to hear, and eyes to see, I have a loving wife, a wonderful family that loves me, and a caring God that gave His Son to die for me. I have so much to be thankful for, and it is all because of God's grace in my life.