Miracles in Nepal and ice in Dallas: Trusting our challenges to the sovereignty of God

Nepali Christians participate in a mass prayer
Nepali Christians participate in a mass prayer in the open as they celebrate Easter Sunday in Katmandu, Nepal, Sunday, April 4, 2010. (AP Photo/ Binod Joshi)
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A Nepali Christian named Suroj Shakya faced a life-threatening decision. His mother, Gita, had been diagnosed with a painful, paralyzing spinal growth. Doctors advised a risky, potentially lethal surgery. Her husband, a Buddhist priest, refused to pay his Christian wife’s expenses. Doctors gave Suroj two days to decide whether to let his mother live in terrible pain or risk her death.

The nineteen-year-old was alone in Singapore and did not know what to do, so he called out to the Lord in prayer. Then he heard a knock at the door. It was a group of local church members who wanted to pray for his mother. After they prayed for twenty minutes, God gave Gita a miracle. 

She stood up. Then she kicked out with her left foot, which she had not been able to move for years. She found that she could move her left arm as well. She began weeping and praising God. 

Doctors didn’t believe Gita was the same woman. Her husband did not believe his wife had been healed without surgery until he saw that she had no scars. Then, along with his son, Suman, he became a Christian. 

Suroj is now a forty-one-year-old church elder. He tells the Christian Post that such stories happen often in Nepal, which has one of the fastest-growing Christian populations in the world. 

“An unstoppable force in the Muslim world” 

God’s omnipotence is not confined to Nepal. My friends, Tom and JoAnn Doyle, recently published Women Who Risk: Secret Agents for Jesus in the Muslim World, a gripping account of New Testament Christianity in one of the most difficult cultures to follow Jesus. 

They note that “an astounding number of women from Muslim communities” are risking their lives to make Jesus their Lord. In turn, they write, “these new believers are transforming the Middle East. When Muslim women find Jesus and give their lives to him, they not only enjoy new freedom in Christ but also become an unstoppable force in the Muslim world.” 

I encourage you to read their empowering book and then pray for those who are being empowered by Jesus to lead a genuine spiritual revolution in the Muslim world. What finite humans cannot do, our omnipotent Lord can. 

I am witnessing another reminder of divine omnipotence and human frailty as I write today’s Daily Article. In Dallas, we are dealing with the worst winter weather in decades. Texas is the leading energy-producing state in the nation, but we are struggling with power. Janet and I had four hours of electricity at our house on Monday and three on Tuesday. We don’t know what to expect today. 

“My power is made perfect in weakness” 

Human frailty can be deeply frustrating. 

Our local news is covering the anger many feel toward our energy providers who are not providing energy in this weather crisis. Evangelical leaders are continuing to respond with anger and disappointment to reports of Ravi Zacharias‘ horrific sexual abuses. 

Each day’s news reminds us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Paul spoke for us all when he admitted, “Nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:18). 

But here’s the good news: God can redeem our frailty by using it to lead us to depend on his omnipotence. 

Paul told of the time when “a thorn was given me in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Theologians have long speculated on the nature of this “thorn,” suggesting that the apostle suffered from migraine headaches, epilepsy, or an eye disease. Paul responded as we would: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me” (v. 8). 

Here is how God responded: “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’” (v. 9a). Through this experience the apostle learned, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (vv. 9b–10). 

The power to finish well 

Where we begin the race is not nearly as important as where we finish it. Michael McDowell started last Sunday’s Daytona 500 in seventeenth place, but when the race was over, he had won. It was his first career NASCAR Cup Series win in his fourteenth season. 

By contrast, the latest SpaceX test flight went well until the rocket crashed when it returned to earth. The person narrating the flight said, “We’ve just got to work on that landing a little bit.” 

To finish your race well, run in the power of Jesus. Admit that you cannot defeat sin and Satan in your strength. If Ravi Zacharias could fall, so can we. If Paul had to say, “When I am weak, I am strong,” so do we. If the greatest missionary, evangelist, and theologian in Christian history needed the power of Jesus “made perfect in weakness,” so do we. 

Now name your “thorn in the flesh,” the temptation or trial you are facing today. Give it to Jesus. Ask him to heal it or strengthen you to bear it. Pray for him to redeem it by drawing you into greater dependence on your Lord. 

Seek God’s strength for finishing well, and you will finish well. 

Eric Liddell’s “full surrender” 

This Sunday marks the seventy-sixth anniversary of the death of Eric Liddell in a Japanese prison camp in China. Liddell was a champion runner who set a world record in the four hundred meters at the 1924 Olympics. His refusal to run on Sunday drew global attention to his faith and became the subject of the Academy Award-winning film, Chariots of Fire

After the Olympics, Liddell became a missionary in China, where he met and married his wife, Florence. After the Japanese invaded China, he sent his family to safety in Canada, but he remained behind to minister. The Japanese incarcerated him in a concentration camp, where he worked selflessly as a teacher, prisoner representative, and volunteer carrying loads for weaker prisoners. He developed headaches from a massive brain tumor, but he never complained. 

Just before he died, Eric Liddell turned to a friend and said, “It’s full surrender.” Then he drifted into a coma from which he never recovered. 

He finished well. If we will do what he did, so will we. 

What do you need to surrender to Jesus today?