What possible good could a come out of a serious bout with the flu? As a heart-transplant patient, I have had to learn many lessons in patience. I take medicine that compromises my immune system. When I get invaded by some illness, it hits particularly hard.
One Monday in February I experienced my first achy feelings, and by Wednesday, my wife had to call the paramedics to take me to the hospital. For six despondent days, I was subjected to a myriad of tests to make sure I "only had the flu." Normally I look forward to my trips to the hospital as opportunities to minister to others, but this time I was too sick to give anything to anyone, except a few flu bugs, which no one wanted! I had not even totally recovered when I was sent home. Imagine my further discouragement when I found out that I would have to spend another several weeks recovering at home instead of continuing with my volunteer work at the Jews for Jesus office.
In order not to have my recovery time at home totally unredeemed, Susan Perlman, editor of ISSUES, sent me a few Jesus for Jews survey responses for follow-up. The surveys had been completed and mailed in by people who had received the book of Jewish testimonies written by Ruth Rosen, and I was to get in touch with them.
With the aid of a laptop computer graciously loaned to me by one of the Jews for Jesus, I responded to each person. Four weeks later, back at work as a volunteer, I received my first answer. It was a three-page, single-spaced letter from a man fittingly named Paul. He had been undergoing an internal struggle over the person and ministry of Yeshua. In the process of baring his innermost thoughts and concerns Paul asked incisive and probing questions. When I showed his letter to Susan, she said, "You need to call this man!" We prayed that I would have a meaningful talk with Paul, and when I got home, I called him.
Paul was extremely gracious and thankful for my call. Over the next week, we conversed several times, and each time Paul had new questions. Some were quite pertinent regarding Yeshua, and others were products of his inner struggle and merely ways to avoid the real issue of Yeshua’s messiahship. I suggested to Paul that he simply needed to make a decision about Yeshua. When he decided to believe, he could either call me and I would pray with him, or he could pray with his wife, or he could pray by himself in his room, as I had done 10 years earlier when I received Yeshua as Savior. The important point was that he should pray and admit to God that he was a sinner, that he believed that Yeshua had died for his sins and had been raised from the dead, and that he was committing his life to God, asking him to take his life and use it for his glory.
The following Sunday, I received a telephone call from Paul. He said, "I’m now a member of the faith. What do I do now?" After hearing him recount the events that had led to his decision, I shared with him some steps for growth (like Bible reading, prayer, worship attendance and preparation for baptism). After promising to send him some helpful materials, I hung up the phone praising God for having had the flu!
At times during my slow recovery, I could not see what good had come out of my illness, but God had his plan. I learned once again that God’s timing may not be ours, and that even when the results of our tribulation are long in coming to light, we can still rest in the knowledge that God will use our lives and our sicknesses − sometimes even our deaths − for his glory. May we all have the patience to trust him more!