Tag Archives: Promise

Adam Harris: Amid a Challenge, God is Good!

by Adam Harris

My name is Adam, and I just wanted to share my story. I felt like I should share this to encourage everyone that God is with you through your struggles and He will provide the strength you need to overcome any trial.

Life Is Hard

I was born three months before my due date. As a result of that, I had a brain hemorrhage and a collapsed lung, which almost killed me at birth. Because of the brain hemorrhage, I have had the side effects of mild ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome, mild anxiety disorder, mild cerebral palsy, and loss of vision in my right eye.

All of these disabilities are mild, but combined they create a unique challenge for me. The ADHD affected my attention span and I was diagnosed with a learning disability in elementary school, which means I was slower to understand concepts and often required further instruction or repeated instructions.

I am unsure of how Tourette’s Syndrome affects me because for a long time it was assumed that Tourette’s contributed to my stuttering; the cause of my stuttering has since been linked to Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy affects the muscles in my jaw, which also affects my speech. It also affects the muscles in my legs and arms; lifting heavy objects and standing for long periods of time are more challenging for me.

The doctor says that the Cerebral Palsy in my jaw muscles are the root cause of my stuttering, but I’ve noticed that my stuttering has become more of a problem when I’m anxious or nervous. Personally, I think anxiety plays a big part in my stuttering as well.

In Grade 11, I barely stuttered, but it came back at the end of Grade 12 and has continued to this present day.

I have struggled with these disabilities since I was born; and since my graduation from high school I have noticed some unique challenges with those disabilities as I move closer to my goal in life.

Some of the Best Years

The past five years since my grad have been some of the best years of my life. I have served two summers at Camp Cedarwood, graduated with a Certificate of Biblical Studies from Steinbach Bible College (SBC), and attended Briercrest. I have built tons of friendships, the closest I’ve ever had, and I am closer to God than ever before.

But they have also been the most challenging years of my life. I suffered through a retinal tear in 2015 and could have gone blind. This was healed in August 2015. Praise God! On top of this, I have had to live with a cataract since September 2015. The cataract is mild and currently stable, but it will get worse eventually. I have poor depth perception as well because of only having one functioning eye, and cannot see as well as I should in the dark.

My struggle with stuttering has been worse than it’s ever been. I struggle with self-esteem because of my stuttering, and I suffer with anxiety for my future. If I compare myself to others, I feel inadequate. I feel like I should stop trying to achieve my goals because others would be better at achieving them than I would. But I know that God is good and I can find my worth and ability through what God thinks of me rather than what people think of me, or even what I think of me.

God Is Good

Through all this I have never given up because I know that through my weaknesses God will make a way, and that his power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). God has the miraculous power to work through pain and suffering to bring about His glory.

The promises of God will take us through anything that this world can throw at us. God’s power is made perfect in weakness. And he will most certainly strengthen us and uphold us (Isaiah 41:10). As I look back on my life and the struggles I have gone through, I know that there is one constant that has never changed: God.

Adam Harris

He has been there with me every step of the way (Isaiah 43:2), and that if He is for us, then who could be against us? (Rom. 8:32). It says in Galatians that we will “reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Gal. 6:9), and that is what I intend to do. Never give up. The future is definitely bright when God is on your side.

Adam Harris is from Winnipeg, Man., and attends Braeside EMC. His goal is to serve full-time in youth ministry.

Dr. Bob Tice: Please Don’t Make Me Read the Genealogies!

by Pastor Bob Tice

Most people either flat out avoid reading the genealogy of Matthew at the beginning of his gospel, or they approach it like they would cod liver oil—nose held and eyes half closed. Besides the many names that are difficult for most of us to pronounce, the long list of names seems boring and unrelated to the birth of Christ. “I’ll do anything, Lord, but please don’t make me read the genealogies!” most of us would say.

Yet as regularly as Christmas rolls around, I believe we should hear the voice of the Lord say to us, “If you want to follow me, you must read the genealogies.”

A genealogy tells us who we are. It tells us what kind of family we are considering getting ourselves involved with. A genealogy gives us our bearings.

In this season of Advent and Christmas, Matthew 1 challenges us: if you enter this Advent family, here is who you are, who you will be, and what you can expect. Christ’s genealogy can remind us of four truths that, if we take the time to discover them, can enrich our lives this season.

We need to remember that we are part of the Advent family line because of someone else. This family line goes all the way back to Abraham and Sarah, who courageously broke away from one family line (the Chaldean line of Ur) to start another line. Isaac then had the opportunity to enter because of Abraham and Sarah. Rebekah had the opportunity through Jacob, and Jacob and Rachel had it through them in turn.

I’m a part of this Advent line because a former house burglar named Greg shared the marvelous story of his new Advent family with me. Now a whole new branch of the Tices has become part of the Matthean genealogy, as my children have responded to Christ through my witness.

We need to remember that our lives will be full of the challenge to walk by faith into the unknown. Many of the members of this Advent family are like Abraham, the first name in the genealogy. Abraham was called out of Ur—our of his comfort zone, out of his family’s surroundings and culture. What was Abraham called to? “To a place I will show you,” says Gen. 12:1. In other words, not only were Abraham and Sarah called away from the familiar, but were given no highly detailed road map describing every twist and turn to their new destination.

Faith is the absolutely non-negotiable human action necessary for the divine action of God to be regularly at work within us and through us. Being in this Advent line means we will allow God to direct us, often through the unknown.

We need to remember to expect the unexpected. Four women are mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy. Listing women in a Jewish genealogy is not the usual practice. What women they are! They are not the great matriarchs of Israel’s history—like Sarah, or Rebekah, or Esther. Rather, they’re women like Rahab, who had been a prostitute of evil Jericho.

Out of the shame of Rahab’s past, God saw a woman who, unlike the others of Jericho, finally recognized the true God. Rahab was the only one who said, “For the Lord your God is he who is God in heaven above as on earth beneath” (Josh. 2:11). The red cord—a sign of her own sin and defilement (and, of course, of the seedy men who used to climb up it)—now became a sign of her salvation.

In addition, every one of the four women listed here in a Jewish line were Gentiles: Tamar and Rahab were Canaanites, Ruth was a Moabite, and Bathsheba a Hittite. This family line overcomes some of the great prejudices of Far Eastern history!

Joining this Advent family means expecting the unexpected and having the unexpected asked of you.

We need to remember that our lives are kept by a promise-keeping God. This family line—just from Abraham to Jesus alone—is some 2,000 years old.

Through tens of thousands of challenges, God fights to keep this family together and intact. By Matthew 1:12—just before Jeconiah, at the time of the Babylonian exile—there was just one surviving possibility to keep the Davidic line alive. The only possibility rested with Zedekiah (2 Kings 24) and he was in exile with his eyes put out. Yet God worked things out.

The genealogy that we often avoid reading can remind us of the family line God is creating. It can remind us of our place within it and our commitment to invite others to join the family.

Bob Tice

Bob Tice, DMin, is pastor of RiverRock Church in “core-city” Buffalo, New York.  He is also an adjunct professor with Northeastern Seminary (Rochester) teaching the course Theology of the City. This article, reprinted with permission, was first published in the Gospel Herald (Dec. 23, 1997) when he was Mennonite Board of Missions urban ministry director, pastor of Westward Church of the Living Word (Buffalo), and adjunct professor in Houghton College’s pastoral and church ministries program.