Can God Really Use This For Good?
So I’m guessing that most of you are probably wondering about this…”
I held up my left arm, jerking my head at the intimidating metal brace strapped around it, and looked out at the crowd of students, staff, and guests from the town of Biarritz, France. Nearly a hundred people were crammed into the dining area of what had formerly been the hotel “La Romance.”
“And I KNOW that most of you guys have probably wanted to ask about it for, like, three days now.”
There was a pause for translation, and then some laughter throughout the room, along with a few nods and pointed glances between friends.
“Alright, so let me tell you the story of how it happened…”
I knew it was going to be a good story – interesting and unusual for most people – but I also knew that after I had been injured in a sports competition five weeks earlier, I had kept my composure until leaving the floor, and then had settled into the stands and wept.
How was this story POSSIBLY going to end in a redemptive way?
“So a little more than a month ago I was competing in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament in Chicago in the USA…”
I went on to explain to those who may not have been familiar with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that it’s a submission grappling sport that looks a little bit like a cross between Judo and wrestling.
A few minutes into the bronze medal match for my age, weight, and skill division, I had heard something tear near my left elbow. Thinking it was the fabric of my uniform, I had looked down, seen nothing out of the ordinary, and continued to grapple with my opponent. Moments later, I had tried to pull with my arm and found that it wasn’t working like it should have been. Even in the adrenaline fueled intensity of the moment, I had realized that something was VERY wrong, and I had looked up at the scoreboard.
We were only halfway through the round, but I was up on points.
At that moment I had been faced with a choice: Should I quit and accept disqualification or should I HOLD ON through pain, weakness, and unfavorable odds and try to finish the match victoriously?
I’m not sure whether it was stupidity, blind stubbornness, or perseverance, but I had decided to hold on for the win, and several minutes later, the referee had raised my hand in victory while I winced in pain.
I had promptly withdrawn from the remainder of the tournament, staggered off of the mat in minor shock, and headed to the paramedic’s station where it was confirmed that I had completely torn a tendon and disconnected my left bicep.
Which is around the time that I had started to cry.
And now I was standing in front of a crowd in France trying to explain this situation in a positive way.
But God had stirred up something in my heart earlier in the day and now I was excited to share it with the group.
“This may sound strange to you, but I believe that there may be some of you out there tonight who feel like you’ve been in a life-and-death struggle – you’ve been emotionally wounded so deeply that you feel like you’ve been crippled, and you lack the strength to fight. You feel like there’s no way you can win, and you’re ready to give up…”
I paused and blinked back tears.
“But I just believe that God wants to encourage you tonight. I believe He wants to use my story as an example – to remind you that even if you feel wounded, out-classed, and hopeless, if you can just HOLD ON to Jesus, you’ll watch God bring victory in your life. If He can do it for me, He can do it for you, and if this brings encouragement to just ONE of you – as crazy as it sounds – it was worth it for me to go through this.”
And in that moment, I meant it. It was worth it.
All the pain, the surgery, the discomfort.
It was all worth it if it impacted even one person.
And it did – God used it. Many people responded to the call to say “yes” to Jesus – to go “all in.” Several people also approached me afterwards, telling me that they had felt the message had specifically been for them.
I personally hate injuries, and I believe that God’s heart is to heal, but I’m grateful for God’s ability to use EVERYTHING “for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” [Rom 8:28]
I’m also grateful for the words of Galations 6:9 that challenge us not to “become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
So be encouraged today friends – no matter what battles you’re facing – no matter how out-matched and wounded you feel – that if you HOLD ON to Jesus, He can bring victory even in seemingly impossible situations.
Ultimately God can use even deeply painful things to bring encouragement to others, and I’m truly grateful.
Because this is why we do what we do.
Over the last year, we’ve had the privilege of watching God move powerfully all over the world. We saw thousands respond to Jesus in twelve nations and territories on five continents – we’ve just finished up a packed few months of events in Israel, the West Bank, and across the American South and Midwest, and have just returned from BIARRITZ, FRANCE, where we were helping train the next generation of world-changers at a YWAM missions school. Now we’re preparing for some exciting opportunities to share the love of Jesus in Belize, Pakistan, and across the American Midwest this year.
THANK YOU for helping us share the love of Jesus worldwide. Our vision is to follow God’s leading and help reach as many nations and people as we can with the message of Jesus, and your partnership helps us reach the world together. If you’d like to help, click HERE to partner financially and follow us on FACEBOOK for daily prayer updates from the field. Thank you so much, friends, and God bless you!
Zach and White Ribbon Day
Also, check out our just-released acoustic collaboration with HISPOP HERE - filmed live in Malta!