It is not your illness or pain itself that is going to make you stronger in the Lord. It is the lessons learned through that illness or pain that will help you become a better Christian. The moment you were born again, God enrolled you in a school of sorts. Christians start out in kindergarten, with easier lessons to be learned in a school of trials. They start out eager to learn more about God. Every affliction, every hardship is another lesson. If you learn what God is teaching you, He will move you on to the next grade where the lessons will be a little more difficult. When you pass that grade, God will challenge you with greater lessons. When you have enough education under your belt, you then can teach others going through those same lessons.
But some people never pass from kindergarten. They never get the capacity or spiritual maturity to move on, so they just stay in the same grade throughout life. And their life in Christ never matures.
Why do people love stories of others who have overcome overwhelming obstacles and achieve great things? It strengthens our own faith. We are told in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” It gives our own faith that evidence we need of things not seen. So that when we are in our darkest moments, we have the example of someone else who persevered in their faith and came out on the other side with a promising future full of life and happiness and purpose.
I’m going to leave you today with one such story of overcoming incredible health challenges regarding a man named Lynn Lingenfelter. When he was a young man of 16 years old, he was accidentally shot in the back by his best friend. He barely survived his injury but had to have several blood transfusions during that time. This was in the early 1980’s when they were just finding out about the dangers of blood transfusions and developing AIDS. The doctors recommended he be tested for HIV/AIDS. The test for HIV was positive, and he was devastated. As a result, he separated from his girlfriend thinking they had no future together and spent a lot of years just waiting to die. But with medication, his disease was under control, and he eventually decided to work out and get in the best shape of his life. He became a body builder and was an inspiration to many people. Over the ensuing years, God blessed him with a wife and 2 children. But then tragedy struck again. He developed progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), which is a virus that affects the brain. There is no cure, and it has an up to 50% mortality rate within the first few months following diagnosis. But still Lynn has not given up hope. So far he has survived the PML and shares his “Message of Hope” at business seminars, health clubs and churches. On his Facebook page, it reads, “His ministry of Health and Hope will help others like himself to live victorious in Jesus!”
Lynn’s perspective is to help others through his trials. He made it through the hard tests and is now a teacher.