“Remember today what you have learned about the LORD through your experiences with Him” (Deuteronomy 11:2 GNT).
There is certainly nothing to like or funny about a heart attack. You know somebody is serious when they say, “I am serious as a heart attack.”
In the book See You at the House by Bob Benson, the author details a conversation about his friend who had a heart attack. The prognosis was grim for a while but ultimately his friend recovered. Months later Bob asked him a rather odd question. “Well, how did you like your heart attack?” His friend responded, “It scared me to death, almost.” Bob asked, “Would you do it again?” “No!,” his friend said. “Would you recommend it?” Bob asked. “Definitely not,” said his friend.
Now, the conversation begins to turn. Bob said, “Does your life mean more to you now than it did before?” “Well, yeah” was the response. Bob continued, “You and your wife always had a beautiful marriage, but are you closer now more than ever?” “Yes,” said his friend. Bob probed deeper and asked, “Do you have a new compassion for people—a deeper understanding and sympathy?” “Yes, I do.” “Do you know the Lord in richer fellowship than you’d ever realized?” “Yes.” And then Bob said, “So how did you like your heart attack?”
God is with us in the storms of life, including heart attacks, and often uses these situations as a learning opportunity for us. Deuteronomy 11:2 reads, “Remember today what you have learned about the Lord through your experiences with Him.” Sometimes it takes a heart attack or similar event for God to get our attention. At this point, it is up to us to us to respond.
Our response will ultimately increase or decrease our faith in God. Scripture speaks to the relationship between trials and faith. “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (I Peter 1:6-8).
We can choose to consider it all joy (James 1:2-4) because we know we have final victory over sin and death and glory and eternity await. We can partner with God in times of trials to make us into the kinds of people He wants us to be (Romans 8:28–29). I believe that our good, compassionate God longs for all of us to be on a formational journey in Christian perfection to be more Christ-like and pain provides a unique “on-ramp” to expedite the journey.
God reveals Himself to us through various means. Sadly, many men do not recognize God’s grace until they have their “heart attack” moment. We can certainly experience God’s presence while in church or reading the Bible. However, His presence transcends any sort of limits or preconceptions that we might have. I sense His presence in babies, nature, and random acts of kindness. The earth is God’s canvas. The Psalmist expresses it beautifully in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,the world, and all who live in it.” If you want to see proof of God and see evidence of His work, look out the window or better yet go for a walk.
Don’t wait for your heart attack to begin living life!
Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for pursuing us even when we fail to pursue you. Help us to see first your kingdom and your righteousness. Amen.
Gulf South Men is a regional ministry coming along side churches and men’s ministries by offering Education, Training, Resources, Men’s Events and Mentoring to help churches build effective men’s ministry and make disciples for Christ.
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Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for providing us security that cannot be found in this fallen world. Forgive us for our lukewarm faith at times and continue to draw us nearer to you. May everything that we do show that we are true ministers of the Good News. Amen.
Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is a Past President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.