To Each of Us

By J. L. Leifeste

Life on this earth is not easy for anyone. Our problems may be the result of our own sins or the sins of others, or they may simply happen because sin exists among us from when Adam and Eve succumbed to Satan’s temptations. Regardless of when or where people live, everyone faces trouble: “ is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). Those words of Eliphaz may sound too gloomy, but we must admit that everyone experiences problems.

I was asked to write this article due to my health situation. Although it may seem otherwise, I have a mental disability. This causes me to suffer from several difficulties. I write occasional articles for the IGT, but writing is very hard for me and moves slowly, due to interruptions by my health problems. Hopefully, by reading this article, others will receive inner strength, an appreciation of the lives of everyone worldwide, and a stronger faith in God.

Fourteen years ago, I was slowly and unwittingly displaying variations in my nature. I erratically changed moods and often lost track of time and events. Then I suddenly showed symptoms of a bad flu. A couple of days passed with no improvements. Rather, things became worse. I suffered from hours of extreme dizziness and upset stomach. This was followed by hours of unavoidable sleep. Finally, tests revealed that an arachnoid cyst occupied almost the entire left side of my head. Evidently, over a period of many years, the cyst had squeezed most of my brain into the right side of my skull. An immediate operation was necessary for my physical survival.

Regrettably, we rely on God less when we feel satisfied with life (see Hos. 13:6), and more when we are in trouble. I had thought that I possessed a strong faith. Yet, the seriousness of my condition forced me to consider my faith and its true strength. After serious thought and prayer, I believed that the outcome of the operation would be for the best (see Rom. 8:28). Oddly, I was firmly determined to live, but I had no fear of dying. My reliance upon God grew, and the strength of my faith in Him grew. I also knew that many of my Christian brothers and sisters were praying for the best possible results, and I was convinced that their prayers help in any situation. It was a blessing that the operation was successful in relieving the pressure of the cyst. One might say that I received another opportunity at earthly life.

I returned to work, but quickly found that many troubles grew from my condition. I lacked stamina, the ability to concentrate, and physical strength in my right side. My competence to coordinate words became sporadic. I was often bewildered when putting thoughts into words. I had difficulties with balance, and I experienced head pains. I also suffered from both long-term and short-term memory loss. Perhaps the most alarming feature was that I suffered epileptic seizures. Some of them were extremely severe. These and other problems caused me to be unable to work.

I and many others continued to pray for my improvement. Medications, prescribed physical activity, and psychological sessions helped some. Reading and working with word puzzles helped improve and recapture my knowledge of words. I still suffered from several ailments, but I learned to live with many and to improve to the best of my ability. Throughout all of this, my faith increased. My seizures became less severe and less frequent. Some strength returned. However, due to continuing problems, I was still mentally disabled. I became interested in art, writing, and other endeavors which also helped toward certain slight improvements.

In 1994 my condition began to deteriorate. After a number of tests, we found that my cyst had grown. Another operation was necessary. Again, many people prayed for me. As the operation approached, I again felt the calm of a trust and assurance that many people do not have. My operation was successful — another opportunity at this life. And, although so many problems of mental disability still cling to me, I continue my attempts to improve. My difficulties are numerous, including my former ailments and complex seizures. Still facing memory problems, I express gratitude to my wife, Sheila, for supplying this article with many of the facts concerning my past.

Problems often produce a deeper understanding of some truths. I would like to share a few with you here.

Sociologists, people who study society, recognize that religion is a universal trait among humans. They say religion helps to explain life, defines sacred ideas, and offers deliverance from human problems. However, many sociologists overlook three main advantages that Christianity supplies: spiritual salvation and eternal life, a genuine kindness born of a love of all mankind (Gal. 6:10), and decent behavior which improves everyone’s life.

My experiences help me understand that religion is an essential part of personal stability. As my Christian faith grew, I was better able to face more hardships (see Jas. 1:2-4). Faith is a strength that affects the spirit, the mind, and the body. And it grows from the study of God’s word (Rom. 10:17). “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength…” (Psa. 18:30-32; see Psa. 119:50). In Prov. 1:23-33, we find that we must listen to God for relief and escape from evil. God cares for us. He gave His own Son that we might have eternal life (Jn. 3:16). We gain a special strength through Him (Phil. 4:13).

Optimism and determination can also help in healing. These spring up from the well of Christian faith (see Isa. 26:4). A determined faith and fervent prayers help one to endure and recover. Many medical doctors are also beginning to recognize the benefits of faith and prayers for their patients.

It is very beneficial if we have the support of our earthly family during our adversities. Yet, a great blessing comes to us when we receive the help and encouragement of our family in Christ. And we gain some mental and physical improvement from simply knowing that they wish us well. They help us with personal care, food, and other benevolence. It is a great relief to know that we have a spiritual family in Christ willing to assist us in our time of need.

Everyone has problems. My troubles may not be as severe as those of some people. Yet, they are still the worst problems in my personal experience and affect me as such. How can any of us endure our afflictions, and even improve our life? God’s word teaches us that we must have a strong, true faith in Jesus Christ (Mk. 9:23; Jn. 20:26-31; Rom. 5:1; Eph. 6:16; 1 Thess. 5:8; Heb. 11:6; Jas. 1:5-6; 1 Jn. 5:4). It emphasizes God’s love for us and assures us that He cares for us (Psa. 34:4; 41:3; 62:6-7; Matt. 6:25-34; Rom. 5:8; 8:28; 1 Pet. 5:7; 1 Jn. 4:8). And it tells us of the wonderful spiritual family that we have in Christ (Matt. 19:29; Jn. 13:34-35; Rom. 12:13; 2 Cor. 1:3-5; Gal. 6:2; 1 Jn. 3:11; 4:7 - 5:3). I continue to find that these things are true. At one time or another, trouble will come to each of us. Yet, as faithful Christians, unique and special helps will also come to each of us (I Cor. 10:13).

“The pangs of death surrounded me, and the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears” (Psalm 18:4-6).

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 6:1).