As Christians, we believe that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NASB). Romans 8:28 has encouraged me often in my life, and I love to find ways that God is using suffering for the ultimate good of His people. Though we cannot know all of His good purposes on this side of Heaven, we can trust that God is working all things for our good.
Recently, two verses in Galatians encouraged and challenged me as I considered God’s amazing plan in the midst of suffering. In Galatians 4:13-14, Paul tells the believers, “You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus” (ESV).
I was encouraged by these verses because they showed a very specific, and good, purpose for Paul’s bodily ailment. He was able to preach the Gospel to people in Galatia because of an illness! It could be that his illness forced him to take a break from travelling while he was in the area of Galatia. He used his unplanned time there to share the Gospel, and as a result, many came to faith in Christ! There was purpose in his suffering that will have an effect for all of eternity.
These verses were also encouraging to me because they showed the love and care that the churches in Galatia had for Paul. His illness was a trial for them, but they did not scorn or despise him. Sometimes illness and disability can be a trial for those around us who need to care for us. It is always a blessing when they help with genuine love, and it was encouraging to see that the young churches in Galatia responded to Paul in such a compassionate way.
In addition to encouraging me, these verses challenged me to look for more opportunities to share the Gospel with others. God used Paul’s illness to bring the Gospel to people who had not yet heard it. This challenged me to think of whom I might be able to share the Gospel with because I am chronically ill. Perhaps there is a nurse or a doctor with whom I can share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Or maybe there is a fellow chronic illness friend with whom I can share the Gospel.
If you live with a disability, take courage in the fact that God has a good purpose for you, even in the midst of your suffering. He can use your disability for your good and His glory! And perhaps there is someone you can share the Gospel with because of your disability!
Who do you know who needs to hear the Good News of Jesus? Perhaps there is a doctor, nurse, or home-health aide with whom you can share the Gospel. Or perhaps there is a teacher or school aide who is in your life because of a disability. Maybe there is a neighbor who sees your faithful testimony and needs to hear the Gospel from you. I encourage you to pray this week and ask the Lord to give you the opportunity to talk to someone about Jesus!
This article was originally posted on The Irresistible Church blog.