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Facing adversity

R.A. Mathews Special to The Star

The New Year is here!

One of the greatest discoveries of last year promises hope to millions in 2020.

He’s identified only as Thibault—a strikingly handsome, 30-year-old. Four years ago, Thibault fell nearly 50 feet, paralyzing his arms and legs.

But, last year, surgeons cut into Thibault’s skull and placed two implants on his brain. What happened? Thibault walked!

According to the BBC, Thibault’s actual brain waves controlled an astronaut-like suit he wore. Incidentally, Thibault likened his steps to those of Neil Armstrong’s on the moon because of the same slow, awkward movements.

The Reeve Foundation states that in America alone there are over a million paraplegics with spinal cord injuries. Some may have turned from God, but not Christian author Joni Eareckson Tada. She hasn’t used her hands or legs for 52 years, not since a diving accident at age 17. Despite her adversity, she has always trusted God.

Consider also the Hebrew slaves of Scripture. Why? You'll soon see.

Let’s start when the Hebrews are free. The first book of the Bible has 50 chapters. Thirty-eight deal with a father, son, and grandson: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Read their story and you’ll understand most of Genesis.

We call them the patriarchs—essentially the founding fathers. They more or less live in the Promised Land, present-day Israel.

How then do God’s people end up as slaves in Egypt?

Because of the famous coat of many colors. Seriously.

Jacob is tricked into a marriage he doesn’t want. But he loves his second wife, and her two boys become Jacob’s favorites.

Jacob gives that coat to Joseph, one of the two. His jealous brothers then snap and sell Joseph to a caravan headed for Egypt.

But Joseph can decipher dreams. He warns Pharaoh of a terrible famine that’s coming, and Pharaoh makes Joseph second-in-command of the nation. When the famine spreads to present-day Israel, Joseph ultimately brings his father, brothers, and their families to comfortable lives in Egypt.

Generations pass and Joseph is forgotten. The Egyptians begin to fear God’s people and force them into slavery. Here’s what the Hebrews do with adversity: They cry out to God.

Great idea!

The Lord sends Moses with one miracle after another until Pharaoh lets the Hebrews go.

But Pharaoh quickly regrets that decision, taking his army and following them. This is when God parts the Red Sea, allowing His people to walk through on dry land and closing the water on the Egyptians, who wash up dead on the shore. Seeing this, Scripture says, “The people feared the Lord and believed...” Exodus 14:26-31

Three days into the wilderness, the Hebrews face hardship. Within 45 days, God’s people wish they were back in Egypt. It’s an amazing turn of events.

They recall that time warmly saying, “When we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread.” Exodus 15:22, 16:3

God had heard their cries—their terrible life of slavery. And God had granted miracle after miracle to set them free. But they don’t remember it that way.

There’s more adversity in the wilderness, and God’s people quarrel with Moses, speaking the unthinkable:

“Is the Lord among us or not?” they ask. Exodus 17:2-6

What?

As I’ve said many times, why didn’t someone shout, “The Red Sea parted!”

But the biggest of the Hebrews’ miracles is forgotten.

This can happen today. Scripture warns us: “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

Read your Bible daily and remember God’s ancient miracles. But God also grants modern-day miracles. You know this. Write yours down and read them often.

Stay close to God: Talk to Him throughout the day, repent, and repeat His promises:

“I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

“I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

This is indeed the year of the paraplegic—God has brought hope to millions who cannot walk or even lift a glass of water.

But this is also your year. Whatever 2020 brings, no matter the hardship or fear, remember this:

God is with you.

Copyright © 2020 R.A. Mathews The Rev. Mathews is a faith columnist, attorney, and the author of “Reaching to God.” Write to her at Letters @RAMathews.com