by: Dr. Steve Heidenreich
I have been serving the Lord for over 40 years. Those years have been full of blessings, and I would not trade Him for anything. I wish everyone could experience what God has done for us in serving Him. Have all of these years been easy years? No; but they have been years of getting to know my Saviour which I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Have you ever been doing the best that you can to serve the Lord, then one day out of the blue comes a very difficult trial? You say, “Lord, I’m trying to serve you and doing the best I can, why is this happening to me?”
While my family and I were on deputation, we experienced one of these trials. There were times on deputation when there were some open weeks of not having meetings. Sometimes the summer months can be a little harder to get meetings because people are on vacation in many churches, and those churches do not schedule missionaries. One summer we had a few weeks open when we needed financing to keep us going. We had opportunity to work in the cornfields detasseling corn. We had to get up early in the morning and be on the road by 4 o’clock to travel to the cornfields. We then spent the next 14 hours working in the cornfields. Of course, during the summer months it is very hot and humid. I always joked if you want to get a great suntan just come and work in the cornfield.
On one Wednesday, as I was working with a group of young people from our church, I was asked, “Are you going to church tonight?” I told them that I always try my best never to miss a church service.
I did not realize on that Wednesday night that my faith would be tried with a great testing. While I was driving to church that night, I happened to see a drunken man come out between 2 cars along the street and quickly disappear. As I got closer to that area the drunken man came running out into the street. I did everything I could not to hit that man. I swerved completely to the left into the other lane, but he kept running towards the car. He ran into the car on the passenger side of the door. I hit him pretty hard and sent him flying in the air. He came down in the middle of the street. I knew he was seriously hurt. I was scared to death that I had killed this man.
When this first happened to me I could not understand why. I asked the Lord, “Why are you letting this happen to me? Wasn’t I trying to set the right example for our young people?”
Scared and confused because of what just happened, I began to look for an answer as to why God let this happen to me. I was on deputation as a missionary to the Philippines and doing my best to provide for my family. I tried to reason with God and thought I was in His will. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out why He lets things like this happen.
The ambulance came and rushed him off to the hospital. Needless to say, I was very shaken and my faith in God was tested that night.
When I got out of the car, I could see the man was seriously hurt. As the man lay on the street, his body all broken up and blood rushing from his head, I got to my knees and begged the Lord to help me. I prayed, “Lord, if you do not intervene this man might not live.”
The first car to pull up behind the accident was an off-duty paramedic. The driver of the car that pulled up from the other direction of the accident was a registered nurse.
As I waited at the hospital to see if the man was going to live, I asked God to show me why this happened. There will be times when difficulties come in our life, and God will choose to test our faith. God was very gracious and showed me from His Word that He was trying to make me stronger by growing my faith in Him. I always ask God to show me the answer from the Word of God. That night He took Job 23:10 and explained it to me like I’ve never seen it before. Please let me share with you some lessons that I learned that night from Job 23.
First, God never leaves us nor forsakes us. God is always there, no matter what we are going through; and God is always there even when it seems He has left. In verse 3, I could relate with this verse, “Oh that I knew where I might find him!” Then again in verses 8 and 9, the Bible says, “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: on the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hides himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:”
Second, there are appointments God has for us that will strengthen us for the future. Nothing takes God by surprise. I learned in verse 14 that He has times like these that are appointed for me. This is one of those times when I had an appointment to have my faith tested that I may grow stronger. God had called our family to be missionaries to the Philippines, and He knew there would be dangerous times ahead. Most missionaries will learn that there will be times in their lives when they will feel that they’re all alone. They will go through trials, and their parents, home church and supporting churches will not be able to help them at that time. But, they learned through past appointments with God that they can solely trust Him. Our first 5 years in the Philippines it seemed like the Devil threw everything at us but the kitchen sink, and it probably went by and we didn’t see it. When we first arrived, there was a revolution going on because of the election of the president. Shortly after that was a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, and then our families went through a series of medical operations. A year later we got the news that my father had passed away and had already been buried before I found out. Shortly after that my wife’s father passed away. Within the next year, my wife had a serious case of typhoid fever and nearly died. I believe that we were able to handle all this because of past appointments with the trials God had for us back on deputation.
Third, we see in verse 10 that God knows the way that we take. When He hath tried us, we shall come forth as gold. If we will stay faithful and trust Him during the times of trials, He will make sure that they will be used to make us more valuable for Him.
When we go through tough times in our lives, we must be faithful and keep our trust in God. We must realize that faith is very important to God! Remember that trials can challenge your faith, but don’t let trials change your faith. Many times challenges will cause some people to decrease in their faith, but we must remember that trials can end in triumphs.
Dr. Steve Heidenreich