by Howard and Jeanne Tomlinson


God’s Prescription Plan for Victory

Have you ever wondered, “Why me, Lord?  What did I do to deserve this?”  It’s natural to question why when bombarded by various trials.  There is a better response, however, that can give sense to your suffering.

Howie’s biopsy in 1990 confirmed the existence of a brain tumor, and the second opinion showed it was both benign and inoperable.  We were now in God’s “waiting room,” waiting for the right time for treatment.  Day after day, we worked and fulfilled our daily responsibilities with the dread of the tumor shadowing our minds like a dark cloud.
    In early 1992, Howie was rushed to the hospital following a viral attack.  While recuperating at home, he tuned to a Christian radio broadcast and heard a message by Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse who said, “When you’re going through times of trial, don’t ask why but what.”  This message left a deep impression on Howie.  Instead of asking, “Why,” he started praying, “Lord, what do you want to teach me through this suffering?  How can I make sense out of it?”  God started to show us His prescription plan for victory, a plan that would give us peace and direction in the difficult years ahead.
    First, we learned to look at life from God’s perspective rather than man’s.  A butterfly fluttering through the breeze views life differently from a caterpillar creeping along a leaf.  As God taught us that He was using these trials to mold us into vessels of beauty, we began to soar in our spirits.  Our response helped us to become better rather than bitter.
    Second, we learned to re-evaluate our priorities.  When everything is going well, its easy to get caught up in the “details of life,” with secondary things crowding out the important.  But now that we were in God’s waiting room, earthly possessions and pleasures seemed trivial.  Howie was learning to look to the Lord, rather than to the trumpet and his job, for feelings of significance.  I was learning to enjoy life’s simple pleasures with my husband rather than pursuing a career and a busy schedule.  And God taught us to never take life for granted again.
    Finally, we learned the qualities of a true hero.  The Biblical model is opposite the world’s view, which values superhuman power and prestige.  The Lord honors individuals who walk with Him and rely completely on His strength.  The Biblical characters Joseph, Moses, Gideon, Job, David, Daniel, and Paul the Apostle all felt weak and inadequate while God was preparing them for great service, Joni Eareckson Tada’s diving accident, leaving her a quadriplegic, and Dave Dravecky’s bout with cancer and amputation opened doors for incredible ministry opportunities through their lives.  Gifted, talented people who think they can do everything in their own strength are actually hindrances in the Kingdom of God.  Only those who are broken of pride and independence and who walk humbly with God can become true heroes who inspire others.

While we were in God’s waiting room we learned of others who glorified God while suffering with brain tumors.  Howie considered these men some of his heroes: Olympic champion and missionary to China, Eric Liddell; missionary to India and prayer warrior, John Hyde; Russian believer who spent years in prison for his faith, Georgi Vins; and Christian songwriters Ira Stanphill and Stuart Hamblen.  A line from Stuart’s song “Known Only to Him” goes: “I know not what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future; it’s a secret known only to Him.”

(song by Ira Stanphill)
© 1950 by Singspiration, Inc.

I don’t know about tomorrow,
I just live from day to day;
I don’t borrow from its sunshine,
For its skies may turn to gray.
I don’t worry o’er the future,
For I know what Jesus said;
And today I’ll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand;
But I know who holds tomorrow,
And I know who holds my hand.

For Those Who Hurt

You may be suffering in God’s waiting room right now, wondering what the future holds.  You may be tempted to ask God, “Why me?”  But you may never know the reason why until you reach heaven.  If you pray instead, “Lord, what do you want to teach me through this trial?” God can give you His prescription plan for victory.  Allow Him to teach you to look at life from His perspective, learn to re-evaluate your priorities, and model yourself after true heroes.  If you follow God’s prescription plan, your trials can make you a better, not bitter, person.  “. . . we exult in hope of the glory of God.  And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character hope” (Romans 5:2-4).



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Chapter 7: Navigating Life’s Twists and Turns Table of Contents Chapter 9: When I Am Weak, Then I Am Strong