I'm sure that in this world of ours none of us needs to look for trouble... we can be sure it will find us, no matter what. And usually for me it proves to be bad news! However, many years ago I encountered some true adversity which in retrospect proved to have been the most incredible blessing in disguise.
Now as it happened, back in 1988 I underwent a minor medical procedure as an out-patient. I'd been told to take things easy for the remainder of that particular day, but in the evening I took part in an important Elders' meeting at my church, Charlotte Chapel. This was not a sensible move however as in the course of the session I began to experience some serious pain and had to leave early. This got worse throughout the night and by the next day I had been admitted to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in agony. I was told at the time that my failure to rest the previous evening had brought about internal bleeding.
Following my discharge from hospital I was prescribed total bed rest for 3 weeks. In fact, I didn't have much choice in the matter as it was absolutely impossible for me to stand upright, such was the intensity of the pain. But I did manage to prop myself up in bed and with my mother's old portable typewriter on my lap set about using the time as constructively and profitably as possible.
At that particular stage in my life I was working as a Child Care Resource Team Manager with Lothian Region Social Work Department, responsible for fostering and adoption in the Leith sector of Edinburgh. But I'd also begun writing and designing Christian outreach literature during my lunch breaks, setting the core message of the gospel within the context of a range of everyday themes. So during this unexpected and enforced period of inactivity I did a lot of serious thinking and praying, the result of which was to prove a real breakthrough regarding the way ahead. This particular period turned out to have been extremely significant as it led directly to the establishing of the TELit Trust, through which over 15 million publications were to be produced and circulated worldwide prior to my handing over the reins of the work to others on my retirement.
But now, as I look back I have no doubt that my enforced incapacity was ordained by the Lord. After all, how else would I have found the time in which such foundational progress could be developed, and all despite my physical limitations.
I have no doubt that these 3 weeks, during which I suffered excruciating pain, formed a milestone in the history of TELit as it proved crucial in determining the future of the work. And perhaps the fact that this particular time was characterised by pain is not without special significance. After all, so much of the spread of Christianity, and the subsequent growth of the Church worldwide, has been achieved through pain, sacrifice and even at times, apparent failure... Yet the Lord says...
'...I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.'
”'For I know the plans I have for you', declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and
not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
Yes... but God certainly moves in some pretty mysterious ways His wonders to perform!