(Mickey Marvin sharing his testimony.)
I was a hot mess last Friday morning. Although spending time with friends at our teacher prayer group meeting was needed, I wasn’t feeling any of it. My prayers seemed empty. I knew God was listening, but I wasn’t feeling it. At all. It was likewise ironic that my last blog topic about not complaining that I had written about days earlier was being thrown out the window. Overwhelmed with grading, my wife being out of town, and chronic lower back pain, I was throwing myself the biggest pity party ever. It was downright pathetic.
This morning, as I prayed through our teacher prayer list, it began to all make sense. Reading through all the requests made my own struggles seem miniscule compared to others. A friend’s son was in Nashville awaiting possible brain surgery on a tumor. Another friend had a two-year-old son in Philly undergoing testing for a syndrome I had never heard of before. And then there was the prayer for Mickey Marvin, the brother of one of my co-workers. Mickey, a former Oakland Raiders lineman, is slowly declining from ALS.
It was the biggest slap in the face right upside my cheek. Why was I feeling sorry for myself when others had adversities three times worse than my own? The truth is that there is always somebody who has it worse than you, and sometimes we have to humble ourselves realizing the truth behind a verse that Paul writes: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man. And God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10: 13). It all made sense.
Paul was one who could relate. He had his own struggles. But Paul had this radical philosophy about trials in life expressed clearly in his New Testament letters. James 1: 2-4 states, “My friends, consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way, for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. Make sure your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” He goes on to say, “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, difficulties, and persecutions for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12: 10).
Digest that for a minute. Welcoming struggles? Even after soaking it in, I find it difficult to embrace my own problems. Do you? In the midst of the storm, it is difficult to praise God, knowing He is in control. But He does have a plan, and He may be using your own story to give hope to others. I regard men like Mickey Marvin as heroes. Mickey, slowly being crippled from ALS, calls his ailments his friend. After watching his testimony a week ago, I was humbled how Mickey’s lone prayer is for God to protect his hands—so he can hold his Bible—and his voice—so he can speak God’s truth. Talk about a prayer worth praying!
I am reminded of Matthew West’s song “Strong Enough.” If you dissect the lyrics, he considers himself worthy for the struggles God gives him, knowing it only shows how strong Christ is. We can’t overcome adversity on our own. It is only through the power of Christ that we can truly conquer life’s mountains. Why can’t I do the same? There is a bigger picture out there that remains to be revealed in due time. Why not trust God’s will to let go of the fight ourselves? Be a Mickey Marvin. Be a Paul. Embrace those struggles knowing His purpose is perfect, and nothing, absolutely nothing, can touch that.
(The testimony of Mickey Marvin is well worth your time to enjoy. His interview begins a little after 21 minutes on the link below. I hope you will find it inspiring.)
(If you think God has given you too much to handle in life, listen to Matthew West’s song “Strong Enough” below. It is an incredible reminder that we CAN do all things through Christ who gives us strength.)