For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end - it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. (Habakkuk 2:3 ESV)
Richard Gamble gave a great word at our congregation in Coventry, yesterday. He spoke on the life of Joseph and how he was tested in prison by the word of God he had received that said he would rule (something I have written on myself - see categories: meditations/joseph). For Joseph, like Habakkuk, the revelation of God's word, and the appointed time of its fulfilling were far from immediate. Joseph had to persevere in faith and not give up in order to see the fulfilment of God's word over his life.
One of the things Richard shared on, in a moving way, was his own struggle with sickness, and claiming the promises in the Bible for healing. This is an area where I too have a testimony of perseverance and God's faithfulness - a testimony that is long overdue being shared...
When I was 15 year old, 4 years after I became a Christian, I was diagnosed with an incurable disease: Crohn's disease. It is an inflammatory condition of the bowels. I was told that I would always suffer with this condition - a statement I refused to accept. You can call it denial, you can call it foolishness... I call it faith. For over ten years I did suffer with this condition, on occasions very acutely.
I was prescribed drugs that for a while prevented the progression of the disease. These drugs have well documented side effects - side effects I never developed.
However, after years of living my life as normal, and refusing to give any ground to this disease I didn't have to, it seemed for a while as if it got the upper hand over me.
In 1995, while I was in America on business, I developed acute gut pain. No prayer or medicine could shift it. On my return I was admitted to hospital, and a scan revealed that my bowel was now almost totally obstructed. The nurses were incredulous, that someone who on paper was so seriously sick had walked into hospital under their own steam. Never the less, I was seriously ill, and I required a week on a liquid diet just to build my strength and weight up to the point where it was safe to operate.
I praise God for the surgeon who operated on me. A man of great skill. All good things, and means of healing come from the Lord. In the operation I lost half a meter of my small intestine, but all the disease was removed from my body, and no more was removed than was necessary.
I made a good, but slow recovery. I'll spare you the horror stories from that time. But like Joseph, I knew a low ebb, where the word of God tested me. Yet I clung to my faith in the goodness and healing power of the Lord I serve.
Because of the part of my bowel that was removed, I was told that I would need injections of vitamin B12 for the rest of my life. A statement that I also rejected in faith; although I don't believe that it is wise to refuse medication unless one has a specific and clear word from God, so I took these injections every month for a year.
In 1996 I went to Bible College, almost completely restored to health, but still taking the injections. At the induction I fully intended to ask the Principal, one Roger Aubrey, where the local doctors was so I could continue to receive these injections, but it was on this day that I received a word of faith that released me from these injections.
Roger simply said: "The details of the local GP is on this sheet, but I'm in faith that none of you this year will need it." To me that was not just an off-hand remark, but a word of faith that found a deep resonance in my own spirit.
That was the last time I had a B12 injection... over 10 years ago! When I applied for life-insurance with a new mortgage a couple of years ago, the medical questionnaire flagged up that I had had Crohns. They were incredulous that I no longer needed any medication and wrote to my GP (who I had not had any need to visit for any reason for over 5 years). He sent me off for a B12 test which came back without any abnormality.
I can honestly say, that I am healthier now that I have ever been. I do more than fifty press-ups every morning, and swim half a mile most weeks. A far cry from that pale emaciated figure in 1995 lying in the hospital bed with tubes stuck in him from every angle. Yet that pale man had something that no illness can take away - faith. Faith that God is good in every situation and is always faithful to his word, no matter how bleak the circumstances.
Praise God for his faithfulness to his word. God's word will always be fulfilled. Though it lingers wait for it. It will certainly come.