527John F. Kennedy, soon to be president of the United States, in a speech in Indianapolis in 1959 declared, ‘When written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger. The other represents opportunity.’ The momentum of that statement was later reinforced when Richard M. Nixon and others used it in their public speeches. From that, has emerged a political catch phrase, ‘Don’t waste a crisis.’ In other words, make use of the opportunity that a crisis or danger brings to you. Not only in the world of politics but also in our personal lives, both big and small, we can do the same. Let me share a recent, personal example.

At the beginning of this year, the Lord gave me three words, for myself, but also for our church. The words were (1) Suddenly (2) Prepare and (3) Unexpected. In other words, we were to prepare, for things were going to happen suddenly and unexpectedly. That certainly happened for us as a church and more recently for me personally.

In May, I went in for my annual physical with my family physician. Everything was great and he said he didn’t want to see me again for 12 months, but he recommended I have another colonoscopy. So off I went to have this delightful procedure. Unfortunately, they couldn’t complete it as there was an obstruction in the colon. I might add, I was having no pain, no discomfort and no symptoms that could have indicated a problem. This came suddenly and unexpectedly. I was referred to a surgeon who, after more tests, said I needed an operation. As Dorothy and I prayed about it, we felt a great peace, as indeed, even before I went to see the surgeon, I felt the Lord saying I would be having an operation.

There have been other occasions, including prostate cancer, that I have felt not to have an operation but just wait and pray. Eight years later, all is well.

On July 1st, I went in for surgery. It lasted 4.5 hours. It was major surgery, more than I had anticipated. I had thought I would be in hospital a short time and soon back on my feet. Not so. I was in hospital 7 days and then 5 days in a rehab center before I went home.

As I lay in bed in the hospital, I reflected on all that was happening so unexpectedly and suddenly that completely changed all the plans that I had for the summer. I took out a pen and paper and wrote down what I learned through this present crisis that not only impacted me, but put a big strain on my wife Dorothy as well.

I made a list of 12 things that came to mind through it all. Let me share just a few of them and one or two in particular that mean so much to me.

I affirmed God was in control. Even though it caught me by surprise, it didn’t do that to God. Consequently, He told me ahead of time, before I saw the surgeon, that I would be having surgery and all would be well. By the way, the surgeon did a great job and made a neat job of the incision, that has healed up nicely.

I realized that God gave me a great opportunity to testify and share about the Lord with people in the hospital and the rehab center. I lost count of all those that I talked with and on two occasions I had the opportunity to pray with people. After I prayed with one lady, she had tears in her eyes and later she sent me an email saying, ‘Thank you for your prayer for my brother. For whatever reason, his situation was troubling me greatly last week and your enquiry for a prayer request pierced my heart in a very significant way.’

I asked for some of Dorothy’s books ‘Called Together’ to be bought to me and ended up giving away about 9 of them. So, no matter what crisis you are going through, you can be used of the Lord to share His love with others.

Dorothy and I were overwhelmed by the love, prayers and practical help given to us. People came to visit me at the hospital. Our daughter had set up a care calendar online and people, mainly from our church, signed up to help Dorothy, particularly when I was in hospital. They were magnificent, walking the dog, mowing the lawns, shopping, gardening, chauffeuring me around, to and from the hospital, along with lots of other odd jobs. We couldn’t say a big enough ‘thank you’ to them. We saw the body of Christ in action and we appreciated all the prayers that were offered, including a couple of friends who came to the house to pray for me the day after I got home from hospital, which was quite significant.

I realized that in the previous 6-12 months, God had been putting together a wonderful team at Church on the Hill. Consequently, all the bases were covered and everything went smoothly while I was away. The church never missed a beat. God had everything prepared.

A crisis, whether big or small, reminds you how precious your family is to you. My wife Dorothy has faced challenges in recent times with PMR and more recently with pneumonia, so my surgery and all it involved put extra stress on her, but she was there for me all the way. Likewise, my daughter Joy with all she does for us personally and also as administrator at the church, and also my daughter Beth in Germany, who was in constant contact, supporting us from across ‘the pond.’

One of the major lessons I was reminded of was the promise of Romans 8:28 ‘That all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes.’

As I mentioned before, I had no discomfort, no pain and no symptoms and they would not have found out anything was wrong, except they discovered it when I went in for my routine colonoscopy. I talked about this with the doctor after the operation and he confirmed what I thought. If they had not found it (allowing me to thoroughly prepare for the operation), then probably I would have ended up with an emergency surgery that could have had far reaching consequences which I won’t go into. So, even though no one likes the thought of an operation, I was praising God because it saved me from a far worse situation in the future. I realized again what I had learned many times before ‘that all things work together for good.’ God certainly didn’t send this to teach me a lesson. No! But He was there with me in the midst of my crisis and turned it for good. I believe God has more things for Dorothy and I to do before we go to be with Him. ‘The best is yet to be!’

I also remembered Paul’s description of his life situation in 2 Corinthians 4:17 ‘For our light affliction which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’

Given all that Paul went through, he describe it as ‘light affliction.’ Sometimes you have to get a better perspective of what you are going through. So, what was an operation for me. . . . . ‘a light affliction,’ especially as viewed against eternity and also against all the many trials others are going through, such as those in battling ebola in Liberia and other countries nearby or the persecution of Christians around the world. Most of our troubles suffer by comparison with the trials in other peoples lives.

Don’t waste a crisis! Let God turn it into a victory. It can be like the grain of sand that penetrated the shell of an oyster and over time is turned into a beautiful pearl. Remember, that all things, good or bad, no matter where they come from, can work together for good to Him who love God and are called according to his purpose.

Don’t waste a crisis!