I’d known him and his wife since I was 14.
The man who spoke wasn’t preaching.
Rather, he was relating his own story.
The reason I’d met them was their service at church.
Although his wife was severely handicapped, due to a major stroke, she was the church greeter.
She’d smile and hand out bulletins.
Which was difficult, because she only had one hand which worked well.
By the time our kids were born her health had deteriorated to the point of requiring her to be in a motorized chair.
She still passed out bulletins and smiled at each person.
I’d always been impressed at how patient and helpful her husband was.
Due to the stroke and other health issues, the woman didn’t always understand what was going on around her.
More than once they would have to leave the service to accommodate her needs.
As I was listening to her husband, I cradled one of our children in my arms and kept an eye on her sister who was busy coloring.
I didn’t want to miss anything as he shared his own story.
They had not been married very long before she had the stroke and became a different person.
He’d been faithfully supporting and caring for her for many years.
He talked about how God got his attention to what he was like on the inside.
“You know a sponge, one that’s dry, can look clean and even unused from the outside. It’s only when it’s squeezed that you see what’s really inside the sponge. God taught me long ago, He uses hard things to show us what’s inside.“
Difficult circumstances show us what our hearts are full of.
For this gentle man, his constant service to his handicapped wife have squeezed him daily.
He finished up his story by admitting at first what came out was anger, resentment, and self-pity, but as he surrendered to God he found the Lord steadily replacing those things with love, compassion, diligence, and long suffering.
His life was and is an inspiration to me and my husband.
The example of the dry sponge has come to mind many times throughout my life.
This morning included.
The Lord encourages my heart through the truth that difficult circumstances show us what’s inside.
I want to have God’s fruit be the things which flow out of this heart, especially when I’m squeezed.
Galatians 5:22-24 NKJV — But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Galatians 5:25 NKJV — If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
May each of us who follow Christ Jesus find inspiration in difficult circumstances, for God is using each one to reveal the condition of our hearts.
1 Peter 4:12-13 NKJV — Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for Your truth. Thank You for squeezing me, to reveal my heart. Lord, I don’t want to be a hypocrite and I know if I am unaware of the condition of my heart I am one. Lord, please continue to replace those things which are not of You with the fruit of Your Spirit. Please continue to use things in life to make me more focused on You each day. Lord, thank You for reminding me of this dear man and his wife. Please continue to bless them and keep them. Thank You that we can rejoice even in the fiery trials. Amen.