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Lessons from a Hospital Bed

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My story starts with a major surgery I had in December. It was touch and go for a while. I was incoherent. I needed a blood transfusion. What is more, I had to spend time in a rehab relearning how to walk.

My roommate in the rehab had experienced a major car accident. I did not know how to talk to him about Christ as I lacked my own faith. I was struggling with why God was letting me go through all this. I did not feel near to Him. My pastor came to see me and we prayed and at that point, I had this revelation.

Near to God

The gospel is very simple yet very profound. Christ brings us near to the love of God. We’re all familiar with John 3:16. Since God is love that means when we are brought near to His love, we are brought near to His very presence. The Hebrew word for sacrifice in the Old Testament is korban, which comes from the word kiruv, which means to bring near. So, the idea is that Christ’s korban of His own body, foreshadowed in the Old Testament, brings us near to God’s love. To be near means to have a relationship with someone. Just as a husband and wife are near to each other, we are brought near to God.

But this is very practical. From my hospitalization, I learned that the “how” of being brought near to God is by meditating on the cross. We need to focus on what Messiah did for us: the agony He went through for ME. We should not focus on our circumstances but on the love of God expressed powerfully through Christ’s willing sacrifice, which transcends our circumstances. The objects of Old Testament sacrifice, such as bulls and goats, do not have a choice in being sacrificed—so their korban, their bringing near, is not as powerful an expression of God’s love as the korban of our great High Priest who willingly went to the cross. Oh, how great is the love of our awesome God and our Messiah!

But there is more.

Pure faith

Faith in God means living by His Word and commands, despite my circumstances. If I have a bad break in life, that does not nullify the benefits of living a righteous and obedient life. To have faith in God means to have faith in His commands and righteousness. We need to keep the benefit of being righteous separate from the trials and travails of life. That is a truly pure faith. It is not about focusing on my circumstances; it is my cleaving to righteousness through faith that gives me true life and light.

To be sure, my inclination is toward sin and evil. Read Romans 7:19-20, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” I must strive to remember that sinning is like walking through a spiritual bramble bush. Perseverance in living obediently to God’s Word is a life of peace and joy—and my circumstances have nothing to do with that. Then, as each new day dawns, I grow in the grace, knowledge, and obedience to the living God and my Messiah.

Two aspects of righteousness

I also rejoice in the impartation of God’s righteousness to me. Since I have no righteousness of my own, I am spiritually naked. But God, in His infinite wisdom and mercies, imparts to me His righteousness—2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” As with all things that are worthwhile, one must practice and strive to do something well. Learning a musical instrument or becoming an athlete takes effort, commitment, and perseverance. You may have heard the saying, “Success is 99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration.” There is a spiritual correlation to that.

But as with all things, God gets the glory, as 1 Corinthians 1:29–31 says, “so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’”

Now I see that there are two aspects of righteousness. One is the righteousness that God imparts to me as a sinner; and the other is the righteous life I embrace as a path of joy, peace, and faith. Together they comprise a life that has the peace that transcends all understanding and His joy and light.

This is what I learned from my hospitalization. My faith is renewed and stronger than before. I have learned what true godliness is all about, and I thank God that I am healed physically as well.

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