Most people have the date of their death etched onto their tombstone. My friend, Mike, writes his on a piece of cardboard with a Sharpie pen.
BEFORE AND AFTER
Unfortunately, my life is divided into before I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis (MG) and after. I don’t want to be defined by my disease but nevertheless it characterizes every aspect of my life. In many ways, my illness is the axis on which I turn. When I go out in public I wonder if there is a neon sign on my forehead. Sunday I traded my neon sign for a cardboard one. Simple cardboard testimonies show complex life changes.
Because of MG
2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” ESV
I not only boasted about my weakness, I wrote it on a piece of cardboard and held it up for as long as my trembling arms would cooperate.
We stood shoulder to shoulder with squares raised, and proclaimed God’s faithfulness in our pain and suffering. One side of cardboard proclaimed the deaths of spouses, children and unborn babies. Cancer, autism and heart disease showed up too. Chronic pain, illness, infertility and abuse stood beside job loss, divorce and alcoholism. Many of us know each other well, others only know the stories. Some we didn’t know at all, but their personal struggles were written in Sharpie pen for everyone to see.
Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” HCSB
THE OTHER SIDE
As each of us flipped our cardboard signs, spontaneous applause echoed through the sanctuary. It reached a crescendo as the last one walked across the stage and we collectively raised our signs. Everyone stood to their feet and many wiped tears.
Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” KJV
The rejoicing was not in response to the first side, it was for the flip side; the side proclaiming God’s redemption in every difficult situation. Imagine if we held up the before and never turned it over. Who would applaud? Without God, who could rejoice in their pain, who would be restored from their addiction? Would there be any joy or hope?
Have you turned over your obstacle? Name your struggle, face your enemy and bring it into the open. I encourage you to literally write it down and confront it in ink. But please, don’t stop there. Flip it over and let God write the end of your story. He redeems all things.
Genesis 50:20, “Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now – life for many people.” MSG
THERE IS ALWAYS A TEST IN TESTIMONY
It’s not the date you are born or the date you die that matters, but how the dash in between is lived. I guess Mike did pretty good with the first dash so he got a second one. My grandfather did that too. Mike’s flip side read,
John 16:33, “I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” MSG
TURN IT AROUND
If you are facing adversity, write it on a piece of cardboard. Then turn it around and let God write on the other side. He writes spectacular endings.
Joel 2:25, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…” NIV