As the result of a diving accident which left her a quadriplegic at age 17, my friend Joni Eareckson Tada has spent the last five decades in a wheelchair. Yet she wrote these amazing words about her tragedy:
“My wheelchair was the key to seeing all this happen—especially since God’s power always shows up best in weakness. So here I sit … glad that I have not been healed on the outside, but glad that I have been healed on the inside. Healed from my own self-centered wants and wishes.”
She has turned a disability into an ability, traveling around the world and inspiring countless people. She has turned a seeming setback into stepping stones.
In the book of Hebrews, the Bible lists a group of men and women whose faith grew stronger through experience. Like my friend Joni, they turned their setbacks into stepping stones. I call these great heroes of the faith “world-changers.”
Describing the kind of hardships they faced, Hebrews 11:36–39 says this:
“Still others had trials of mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered around in sheepskins and goatskins, while destitute, afflicted, and tormented. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. These all have obtained a good report through faith, but they did not receive the promise.”
One of these heroes, Abraham, carried out one of the greatest acts of faith in human history when God came to him and asked him to offer up his son Isaac.
This was an epic test.
In many ways, you would have to say that to be tested on this level was quite an honor because the Lord knew that Abraham could handle it. He knew Abraham would pass this test. He knew Abraham would take this setback and turn it turn it into an opportunity.
God asked him to make the greatest sacrifice imaginable. Finally his son, Isaac, had been born. Sarah actually did bring forth that promised child in her old age, and he became the light of Abraham’s life. Abraham doted on the boy. In fact, his very name says it all. “Isaac” means laughter. They loved him.
But could it be that Isaac had actually become the most important thing in Abraham’s life? To put it another way: Could it be that Isaac, the son for whom Abraham and Sarah had waited for so long, actually became the idol of their lives?