"According to His Purpose"
March 20, 2014
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
Today's devotion was written by Dalane W. Kitzman, M.D. Dr. Kitzman is a member and former elder at St. John's Lutheran Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. His service as a medical missionary in Zambia in 1984 provided a number of powerful faith lessons, including the one he shares in today's devotion. Pastor Klaus
When I was a medical missionary in Zambia years ago, the native leader of our church was dying of liver cancer.
Just when he had reached the stage when we doctors were ready to prescribe steroid, which might provide a temporary relief for his terrible symptoms, he asked to be carried to the traditional medicine man and be placed in his care.
His request created a spiritual and medical crisis.
The head deacon was the most respected man in the region. His sons were high-ranking government officials. He had been instrumental in helping lead the community to forsake the false gods and superstitious "medical" practices of the medicine man.
Even so, much remained to be done. For example, mothers routinely brought us their suffering children. At one time simple antibiotics from our hospital might have cured those little ones, but now, because of the weeks they had spent under the medicine man's mistaken care, these children were permanently brain-damaged and paralyzed.
Our problem was this: if we withheld the medicine, we would put our friend through some terrible times of suffering. If we gave the head deacon the steroid pills, the medicine man would get all the credit for the deacon's improvement. This promotion of the medicine man had the potential of jeopardizing 60 years of Gospel proclamation, undermining the growth of the church, and the removing of the trust of those mothers.
We could only guess at the number of people who might return to their false gods and the number of children who would suffer and die at the hands of the medicine man.
Over a period of three days, the doctors and remaining deacons met together several times for prayerful discussion and serious scriptural research. We knew we could not deny mercy or medicine to the dying deacon; to do so would show a lack of faith on our part, and would surely grieve the Lord of mercy. Knowing God was in control and not us, we decided to give our deacon the pills in the presence of the medicine man and ask him to administer the pills to his bedridden patient.
This we did holding fast to today's Scripture, which promises the Lord could use this tragic situation for His good purpose.
On a number of levels He did just that. The head deacon used his newfound strength to witness to the medicine man. The medicine man, seeing the dying man fulfill our predictions by taking up his bed, began to trust us. Indeed, after that there were times when he sent mothers to us with their sick children.
But there was more. The deacon's funeral was like a time of wonderful witness. By foot, bicycle, ox-cart, and over-filled pickup trucks, people came from throughout the province. The church and entire church yard were packed. Spirit-filled messages of salvation, redemption and eternal life were proclaimed and celebrated.
For us who were there, and now for you, who have heard the story, please realize that where we see only tragedy, God can provide opportunity; when we feel compelled to act according to cold logic, God calls us to love one another and trust in Him.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, please help me to remember You are almighty, all-powerful, and all-knowing, that Your love, mercy and grace and never-ending, and that all I need to do is trust and follow in Your way. In Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries