“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Great books run the range of emotions. Pages are full of moving drama and contrasting characters. Chapters often are studies in the battle between good and evil.

One of the significant ways (perhaps the most important way) we learn is by contrast. God’s children know what they have to be thankful for when they see examples of a person without these gifts. What the healthy person often takes for granted, such as mobility, often is not a matter of thankfulness. The adage, “There go I except for the grace of God,” is true and touches an otherwise proud heart once human frailty begins to be understood.

Seeing a person in a wheelchair promotes thankfulness for the gift of mobility if a person has compassion and understanding. It also promotes praying for the disabled person. Seeing victory, in a disabled person in the form of their joy and thankfulness, has brought untold millions back to gratitude. Joy in the face of severe medical problems that a person lives with every hour of every day seems impossible. Yet it’s not.

I once heard the testimony of a young man who could move nothing below the waist due to a motorcycle accident. Yet his daily positive attitude, in spite of this children-robbing tragedy, put my attitude to shame as she told me his story.

Dale's testimony impacted me all the more because I was still a student. Dale was a young man whom I got to know while I was going to Western Baptist College. He was a profound victim of muscular dystrophy. Dale was strapped to a wheelchair 24/7 and had almost no control of his bodily movements and functions. As much as I loved him, he was painful to see. Yet he loved the Lord and yielded to the Holy Spirit more consistently that anyone I’ve ever known. The joy that radiated from him was like a river that overflowed its banks. Dale was not bitter, though his disability had struck him when he began puberty. He had found a peace and power that few of God’s children find.

When Dale was pushed over to a piano and had his hands placed on the keyboard, he began to play with more soul and heart than I’ve ever heard. Every note was true. The Holy Spirit played through Dale's wasted body. Anyone who heard Dale play never forgot what they heard. It was as if we had been on a jet plane of praise that took us through the clouds of this world into the presence of the Son.

Then when Dale was finished playing, his hands would be placed on his lap and he would be helped away in his wheelchair, again without him having bodily control. We had been touched by God Almighty. Dale himself was an instrument through whom the Lord touched thousands of hearts. He’s gone on to a land in which his glorified body will never fail him.

Contrast Dale with your infirmities. Contrast what the Holy Spirit’s power did through Dale and what you allow the Spirit to do through you. When I contrast Dale and myself, I have no choice but to feel ashamed.

Seeing severely handicapped persons and not praying for those dear people, turning away without a bit of thankfulness for our health, are behaviors that will affect our lives here on earth and be a source of accountability on the other side of Jordan.

There is healing. (Jesus went about healing all those who were sick, Matt. 9:35). There is joy and blessing (the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5:22-25). There are also cases in the Bible of our brothers and sisters being sawed in two (Heb.11:37). Other examples (or contrasts) are God’s children who have to live entire lives with thorns of the flesh continually radiating discomfort as Paul did (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Glory to God Almighty is the goal, not by our ease. We are taught by these contrasts of what the Holy Spirit can do through a person in spite of the condition of their flesh.

Remember Dale and submit to the power of the Spirit of God as consistently as you breathe. Claim miracles despite your tears. Walk on halting step by halting step in spite of the pain, or you will stop. Be a channel of what God can do. Smile as you think of heaven, though a dark fog surrounds you. These applications and many others grow from The Ultimate Book of Contrasts, The Bible.

"Look up, and keep pressing on," should be written on our hearts regardless of the valleys we have to pass through or the mountains we have to climb. Remember, tears are a cleansing, and tribulation has the potential to strengthen us if embraced by arms of faith. A heart that completely believes its heavenly Father knows best in any and all circumstances is a victorious heart.

Walking one step at a time toward heaven’s door never was promised to be without pain. How can the soul and spirit of a child of God grow stronger without the frailty of the body being exercised?

Hold His hand, dear brother and sister, no matter what. He will help you become an instrument that lifts up those who are discouraged and lost. Amen.

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