Faith Worth Imitating

by | Sep 14, 2011 | SpiritLed Living

gracie_and_peter_rosenbergerEditor’s
note:
In
1983, Gracie Parker Rosenberger fell asleep at the wheel and
experienced a horrific car accident that has led to more than six
dozen operations … including the amputation of both legs. She wrote the following about her
experience directly following her accident.

If “dismal” described the days, then “horrific” serves as
a perfect word for the nights. Sleep came sporadically; staring at
the ceiling waiting for the next pain medicine injection served as
the only activity.

I lost count of how many times nurses and techs
rolled me to surgery for debriding the wounds, adjusting the Hoffman
device holding my severed right foot to my leg, and whatever other
surgery I needed. Yearning to find any position of comfort, I
resigned myself to never be anything other than truly miserable.

“Why is this happening to me?!” I screamed silently at the
ceiling while fumbling with tubes and IV lines. Hurling my hurt, rage
and despair at heaven, the groaning, tears and heartache flooded out
of me. In the deluge of emotions, however, I heard another question
in the farthest corner of my mind.

“Is Jesus your friend?”

“Huh?” I replied with bewilderment to the thick foreign
accent.

Suddenly, I was 6 years old and meeting an elderly woman back in
my hometown, Fort Walton Beach, Fla. Riding in the back of Aunt
Anne’s car over to her friend’s house, I swung my little legs
while smoothing out my new dress. “Today Gracie,” Aunt Anne told
me, “You’re going to meet a special lady who is spending the
winter with a friend of mine … and you get to give her a Christmas
present.”

Holding the gift tightly in my hands, I offered it to an old woman
sitting in a wheelchair. Feeling nervous under the intense gaze of
the strange woman, I backed away somewhat … until she asked the
oddest question about Jesus being my friend. Wearing an eye patch
following the fourth operation to repair the crossed eyes I
arrived in the world with, I think the woman may have considered me
mentally challenged since I didn’t respond to the question.

“Is Jesus your friend?” She asked again more purposefully.

For several months prior to meeting this woman, I traveled from
family to pastor asking how I could become a Christian; but everyone
told me to wait until I was older. Yet here before me sat a strange
old woman, with an even stranger accent, bluntly asking me if I was
friends with Jesus.

“I want Him to be, but no one will tell me how!” I blurted
out.

“It’s very easy, dear.” She responded with such kindness,
and then told me in the most simplistic way about the reality of our
sinful life, and that God made a way for us to be saved from sin by
sending His Son, Jesus, to die in our place so that we could be
free—if we turned from our life of sin and trusted in Him.

Looking at this woman, she clearly believed the words she spoke;
as if nothing on this earth could shake her conviction. That day, I
gave my heart to Christ. I believed the old woman with the strange
accent. I believed God.

With legs in traction and my body in unending agony, I asked
myself silently, “Do I still believe God; do I still believe He
loves me?”

Struggling with those questions, I avoided sharing them with
others. Who did I even know who could credibly speak to the faith I
previously thought strong … but now seemed so fragile?

“Remember your leaders and superiors in authority [for it was
they] who brought to you the Word of God. Observe
attentively and consider their manner of living (the outcome of their
well-spent lives) and imitate their faith (their conviction
that God exists and is the Creator and Ruler of all things, the
Provider and Bestower of eternal salvation through Christ, and their
leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and
confidence in His power, wisdom and goodness” (Heb.
13:7, AMP).

When our lives are filled with pain and despair, the Bible tells
us to look back at those “leaders and superiors” who journeyed in
faith before us … and be encouraged that they too felt the same
feelings, yet they pressed forward.

Many people talk a good talk and use a lot of churchy words and
catchy motivational phrases, but I often wonder if they truly get it;
would those nice words and inspirational slogans sustain them while
in agony for days, weeks, months, years and even decades?

Struggling to reconcile their own faith with the suffering they
witnessed, even friends and family offered me platitudes and shallow
observations reflecting their limited understanding of God’s
providence … while I lay helpless in bed. Down the hall from the
room where I lay writhing in pain, many of my visitors struggled in
impromptu late night Bible studies—trying to wrap their minds
around the theological implications of a level of suffering that once
served as an academic discussion, but now was witnessed up close and
in person.

We often are tempted to “adjust” or “compensate” for God
in order to reconcile unpleasant circumstances with our belief about
God and His actions toward pain and suffering in this world. One
or two well-meaning, but sadly naive, people even went so far as to
question what I had done to deserve this.

When confronted with suffering, many of us want to grasp how a
loving God could allow misery. “Since God is love, then the person
suffering must have done something God often does to offend the
loving God … therefore it’s the sufferers fault.”

That logic and view of God is not consistent with Scripture. I
have encountered individuals who express an understanding of what and
how God doles out what we deserve and don’t deserve. I’m not
qualified to speak for God … and I have found it’s usually better
to refer to God speaking for Himself. When Job’s friends threw out
their suggestions as to why Job had to suffer, God’s response was
stern and shocking.

“After God had finished addressing Job, he turned to Eliphaz the
Temanite and said, ‘I’ve had it with you and your two friends. I’m
fed up! You haven’t been honest either with me or about me—not
the way my friend Job has. So here’s what you must do. Take seven
bulls and seven rams, and go to my friend Job. Sacrifice a burnt
offering on your own behalf. My friend Job will pray for you, and I
will accept his prayer. He will ask me not to treat you as you
deserve for talking nonsense about me, and for not being
honest with me, as he has” (Job 42: 7-8, The Message).

Reading the book of Job, it is worth noticing that God never
explained to Job why the suffering and loss—most of it horrendously
brutal—was allowed in the first place. God often does not reveal
His purposes, but He does reveal Himself. And difficult as it may be,
that revelation is usually through suffering. Through that suffering,
however, an individual’s faith can be honed, chiseled and purified
to the point of becoming a powerful beacon of encouragement to others
facing their own trials.

While lying in a hospital bed in agony … with scarce hope for a
different reality, I knew positive thinking messages, encouraging
sermons, motivational speeches or even soul searching for blame
offered no help. Friends’ or family members’ “theories” of
God’s faithfulness and love couldn’t penetrate the wretchedness
of my new life.

No, somewhere in my background, there had to be a faith, one of
those unquestioned beacons … a life worth imitating. Hebrews 13:7
clearly states to look to those who brought the Word of the Lord
implying a personal encounter. Considering pastors and teachers in my
life, I mentally inventoried those who spoke the Word of God to me.
Asking myself if I recalled any of them dealing with
brutal realities eclipsing positive slogans and “feel-good
theology;” I couldn’t think of any.

In my heart, I also knew this life of faith I rummaged for in the
recesses of my mind would have to be a woman … with a credible
understanding of personal suffering, loss, humiliation and despair; a
person who stood out as a beacon of God’s faithfulness, who chose
to trust God in the blackest of circumstances.

Who in my life met such a criteria?

“Is Jesus your friend?” I heard once more from the old woman
in the wheelchair.

What I thought for years was a chance meeting now clearly
illustrated God weaving a credible anchor of faith into
my life. The strange-sounding old woman who looked at me with such
intensity had endured suffering, loss and humiliation on a
scale far surpassing mine. Traveling through some of the darkest pits
conceivable while enduring terror on an unimaginable scale, this
unusual woman emerged with a faith that literally reached around the
world.

The most important meeting in my life, where I began a journey of
faith in trusting Jesus Christ, was the encounter God
arranged between a 6-year-old little girl with a patch over her eye,
and an old woman who chose to trust God through the horrors,
degradation, loss and unspeakable despair of the Holocaust. Of all
the people I’d encountered in my life until that point—and even
still today—that woman possessed a faith worth imitating.

Her name was Corrie ten Boom.

Gracie
Rosenberger

and her husband, Peter, started Standing With Hope, a nonprofit
prosthetic limb outreach that continues to help amputees in
developing countries. Although
saddled with nearly $9 million in health care costs and ongoing
severe chronic pain, Gracie has defied the odds and emerged as a
powerful voice of courage and inspiration to individuals around the
world. Married for 25 years, Gracie and Peter live in
Nashivlle, Tenn., and have two sons
one of which attends the United
States Military Academy Preparatory School at West Point. This
passage is from her book
Gracie-Standing
With Hope, and
was used by permission. © 2010 Liberty University Press.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

How to Operate in the Power Gifts of the Holy Spirit

How to Operate in the Power Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He told the apostles in Acts 1:8 (NLT), “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” Jesus promises a gift that would give them comfort, power, strength and encouragement. That gift is the Holy Spirit, and that...

Messianic Rabbi: Make the Choice to Be an Outsider

Messianic Rabbi: Make the Choice to Be an Outsider

One of the wonderful things about reading through the Bible is that the more you read it, the more things you find within its pages. No matter how many times you read a verse or a series of verses, because the Bible is a living document, there will always be more to...

Kingdom Economics: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Kingdom Economics: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress unanimously voted to pass a declaration of independence from Britain. Each signatory was facing death by hanging if the bold experiment failed. The Declaration of Independence declared that all men were created equal and that...

Consider This Unsung Hero of the Bible

Consider This Unsung Hero of the Bible

Sometimes, I think Martha in the Bible gets a bad rap! I am not saying that Jesus labeled Martha at all. Please hear me out. But I think we would be wise to avoid picking up and holding onto some of the dynamics in this potential sibling rivalry between Martha and...

Prophetic Word: We Are Entering the Books of Acts

Prophetic Word: We Are Entering the Books of Acts

On the morning of June 5, 2022, I was praying in preparation for the Arise Women’s Summit I was hosting near Knoxville, Tennessee, when the Lord took me into an encounter. I found myself in the library of heaven standing before a giant staircase made of extremely...

The Church Revived: 3 Keys to the Emerging Move of God

The Church Revived: 3 Keys to the Emerging Move of God

During the past two years, I believe the church at large has been in a season of returning to God. Repentance is crucial when it comes to revival. Scripture shows a clear pattern that repentance precedes the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (see Joel 2:12-28 and Acts...

RECENT ARTICLES

How Divine Wrestling Changes Our Identity

All of us at some point will hit a place of getting the wind knocked out of us. We all experience unexpected detours and times when there seems to be no way out. But there is One who lives in us,...
Spirit-Filled Pastor: How Does God Lead Us Today?

Spirit-Filled Pastor: How Does God Lead Us Today?

Whether it is the Spirit leading or forbidding in the book of Acts, or the Spirit leading throughout Christian history, it’s clear that the leading of the Spirit is important. In the Old Testament, it appears that the Spirit of God could be withdrawn completely from...

Joyce Meyer: Keys to Winning Your Race in Life

Joyce Meyer: Keys to Winning Your Race in Life

Everyone has a race to run. That just means we all have a life to live. The apostle Paul says in Hebrews 12:1 (NIV), “Therefore...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for...

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

In 1971, I was invited to spend one month in Singapore at a new institute that had been started by John Haggai. It was still in the formative stages then—a place where Asian church leaders would be trained and challenged to witness for Christ. Today, more than 40...

37 Prayers for the Suffering Persecuted Church

37 Prayers for the Suffering Persecuted Church

It was a Pentecost bloodbath and most Christians never heard about it. More than 50 Christians were killed in one of the deadliest terror attacks on Nigerians this year. Scores of gunmen rushed in to kill Christians in the midst of worship. All told, over 360 million...

Pin It on Pinterest