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My journey

Keeping my eyes on what God has done, is doing and will do

Two years ago on April 27 I was at a prophetic conference five hours from home. As I stood in line for prayer, my cell phone vibrated in my pocket alerting me to a voice mail. Thinking I would make the time in line useful, I listened to the voice mail.

“Daddy,” my oldest daughter cried, “Noah just got struck down by lightning. Please come home.”

As I flew back to Virginia Beach, Va., where we live, my mind ran through the facts I knew. My wife and children were in the intensive care unit of a local children’s hospital. Noah — my then 11-year-old son — had been struck in the face and chest by a lightning bolt. He had died in our backyard, but was resuscitated by a local paramedic team that happened to be near our house when the lightning struck. Looking back now, I can honestly say that night was the darkest night of my soul.

Upon arrival at the hospital, I walked into the ICU with my soul frozen in a wasteland of shock, hoping for enough fortitude to somehow help my family cope with this tragedy.

Since the day Noah was injured, I have discovered some Kingdom realities I had never considered before.

The first reality I learned is that where we go with our pain is extremely important as to whether or not we arrive at the destiny God has for us. There is not a cell in my body that believes God struck down Noah to teach me a lesson. I choose rather to deflect that blame to the one Jesus called “the thief [who] comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10, NIV). Case closed.

Second, when tragedy strikes, many people succumb to something I call the disease of disappointment. Yes, I would have liked Noah to walk out of the hospital uninjured the day he was admitted. But that did not happen. Does that mean God does not heal today? No, it doesn’t.

“When John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them’” (Matthew 11:2-5, NKJV).

John had been the forerunner who proclaimed Jesus’ ministry. Jesus called John the greatest prophet. But 40 days later John was still in jail when Jesus showed up for His first church service in His local synagogue and declared His job description. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives” (Luke 4:18).

I can only imagine what John must have thought as reports of Jesus’ doings reached him in prison. It would certainly be understandable for him to gripe: “This doesn’t make sense. If You are who You say You are, why am I a captive sitting in this cell?”

It’s a fair question. After all, John had done his best to obey God. He proclaimed everything he was told to proclaim. He lived the life of a Nazirite and did his best to prepare others to meet Jesus. Even so, he remained imprisoned.

John’s attention shifted to what God was not doing and what He had not yet done. That happens to many people when they go through tough times. But that’s not the place God wants our attention to be — especially in times of crisis.

Notice Jesus’ advice to John in Matthew 11:6: “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

That verse tells me that during crisis or tragedy we should not feed ourselves on what God is not doing or on what He has not yet done. The reason? In doing so, we set ourselves on a course that could neutralize our faith and eventually allow our bitterness toward God to replace the love we once held for Him.

To avoid such a mistake in my own life, I quickly stopped asking why Noah was struck by lightning. Truth is, I don’t really need to know the answer to that. I just need to focus on what God is doing and what He has done.

Noah’s saga is accented with things God has done, is doing and will do. Because of it, our family continues to hold firmly to the truth found in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

DAVID ADDESA is senior pastor of Harvest Assembly of God in Chesapeake, Va.

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