28: A Wise and Loving Coach

28: A Wise and Loving Coach

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Tough Times

A Wise and Loving Coach

By Ken Hornok

And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

~2 Corinthians 1:7

I called the head elder at my church and told him, “I don’t know what to do. I can’t study, let alone preach. I can’t do any ministry right now. I don’t know when I’ll be able to come to the office again. What should I do?”

As the pastor, I thought I needed to be in control of every situation, but I was at my wit’s end. A house fire ten months earlier left us living in a small rental unit, commuting our kids to their schools. We had insurance negotiations, decision overload, and the unpleasant task, at least for me, of shopping to replace the items we had lost. Also, I had contracted to do all the painting on our remodeled house, and that deadline loomed. In the meantime, we discovered my wife had cancer in her ear and head. Little did we know that our teenaged daughter would be blinded by meningitis one month after my wife’s surgeries.

I had always heard that God doesn’t give us more than we can bear. First Corinthians 10:13 says that God “will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” But does this verse apply to our sufferings, as well? It felt like God had overloaded me and my family at this time. Knowing that God is a wise and loving coach, not a hard taskmaster, I had to accept His training process. His rigorous discipline would develop my spiritual muscles, but wasn’t He going too far?

When I read 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, it answered my question. Writing about the hardships he suffered in Asia, Paul said, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.” Yes, it is possible to have more than we can bear, but verse 9 gives the purpose for it: “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.” But I felt stranded by God, and that’s when I called the elder and asked for help.

Graciously, the church leaders told me to take off as much time as I needed, and our associate pastor handled all church functions for the next three weeks. People ministered to us and our children in meaningful ways during the following months. I’m glad I asked for help.

Gradually, we found our footing again. We moved back into our house, my wife’s cancer has not returned, and our daughter regained her vision after three months. Although I had felt like I could never be useful again, I learned the paradox that God can use my weaknesses more than my competencies.

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